Brilliant, bitchy and brazen

By |2018-01-15T16:03:24-05:00June 23rd, 2005|Entertainment|

Sandra Bernhard is in Morocco. Well, she is at the time of this writing, though I suspect that by the time you read this she’ll have returned to the States and likely be en route to Motown. Morocco. Motown. Heck, they’re both pretty exotic locations. The difference being, if Sandra Bernhard were in Motown as I write this, I could have gotten the interview the Power Center for the Performing Arts in Ann Arbor, where she’ll be playing Thursday, June 30, wanted me to have. As it is, she obviously doesn’t have a cell phone with any international minutes on it and so the interview failed to materialize.
I confess I’m not too terribly disappointed. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Sandra Bernhard before and as I recall it wasn’t particularly pleasurable, to be frank. She seemed irritated by most of my questions and her agitation was only aggravated by the fact that the interview had somehow been scheduled on her nanny’s day off. So I spoke up and we conducted our terse interview to the accompaniment of her infant child’s continual crying.
“What a bitch!” I thought as I hung up the phone (Sandy, darling, don’t be mad at moi if you’re reading – and I know you are, love), and then it hit me, how could I expect any less? Bitchy is what Sandra Bernhard does best. She’s built a whole career on it!
When she was here a handful of years ago for a run at the Music Hall with her Broadway show “I’m Still Here Damn It,” Sandra Bernhard, a Flint native who turned 50 earlier this month, took on a wide variety of gay icons from Elton John to Liza Minnelli to supermodels and how they were responding to the death of Gianni Versace. (In the unlikely event there are any Fleetwood Mac fans out there reading, she also assassinated Christine McVie in a naughty bit of comedic brilliance.)
Yes, that’s another word that aptly describes Sandra Bernhard. She’s bitchy and she’s brilliant. She’s also a complete and utter original. She’s not exactly pretty, yet she’s somehow sexy; foul-mouthed yet refreshingly frank in an awesomely insightful sort of way. She’s a clever comedienne, an accomplished character actor and, it’s worth mentioning, a very capable cabaret singer.
That’s right, if you’ve only ever heard Sandra Bernhard speak, it might surprise you to know that her brazen – another great B word that befits her – vulgarity belies a soothing and sophisticated vocal ability that could have made a career as a chanteuse a definite possibility.
It’s the combination of her vocal prowess, powerful comedic instincts and hysterically hard-hitting commentary on pop culture that makes a Sandra Bernhard show stand out from other stand-up comic routines. It’s a true theatrical experience, and one where even the most sensitive of subjects is likely to be given the bodacious Sandra Bernhard treatment.
“You know, even when I laugh at stuff it doesn’t mean that I’m not taking it seriously,” she told me in our earlier interview. “It just seems that most things are sort of verging on the ridiculous. So I need to address them.”
And address them she does, in the brilliantly bitchy way that only Sandra Bernhard can. She allows you to laugh at life’s little insanities and by so doing somehow manages to restore your faith in humanity. She is, at times, downright evil, and that evilness is a joyous revelation. Simply put, she’s one of a kind.
Sandy, sweetheart, bitchy or not, I still love you, girl. Be sure to send me a postcard from Morocco!

About the Author:

Jason A. Michael
Jason A. Michael earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Wayne State University before joining Between The Lines as a contributing writer in 1999. Jason has received both the Spirit of Detroit Award (presented by the Detroit City Council) and the Media Award from the Community Pride Banquet & Awards Ceremony for his writing and activism. Jason is also an Essence magazine bestselling author having written the authorized biography "Strength Of A Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story," which he released on his own JAM Books imprint.