In Sandra Bernhard's breakthrough 1987 show Without You I'm Nothing, the comedian jokes that if you can make it in New York, you can't make it anywhere else.
But last Friday night she made it all the way to the San Francisco Regency Ballroom. She felt fortunate to be on the road, entertaining a sell-out hall of Dynasty queens, recovered punks, power lesbians and Paul Mooney, the legendary comic who discovered her 40 years ago.
“I'm fucking excited tonight,” she beamed. “I'm happy because I'm traveling again.”
[jump] Bernhard has recently been to Prague and Paris with her girlfriend Sara Switzer and daughter Cicely. She will soon celebrate her anniversary with said “wonderful, rock-solid” girlfriend.
“We've been together almost 16 years,” she gushed.
Sandra Bernhard is really going places professionally, as well. With recent appearances on TV shows Switched at Birth, Brooklyn Nine Nine and 2 Broke Girls, the funnywoman is back in the national spotlight and looking refreshed after a little dry spell.
“I'm surprised you can still recognize me after my recent surgical procedures,” she quipped.
Best known for comedy albums Without You I'm Nothing and I'm Still Here… Damn It!, films The King of Comedy and Truth or Dare, and TV shows Roseanne and The L Word, Bernhard is all gratitude tonight, if the title of her new #Blessed show is any indication.
In the presentation, which she describes as “Farm to table, artisanal, with elements of luxury,” she tackles topical issues, starting with the California's long-term dry spell. “With the drought, I'm really worried about California,” she said, in her best deadpan, between gulps of water.
San Francisco's homeless problem was next on her hit list. “It's either high end or low end,” she said. “It's one thing to sleep against a building. It's another thing to sleep on the curb. I guess homelessness is legal in San Francisco. In New York, they sweep that shit away. The street cleaners suck up the homeless, so we don't have to see that shit.”
On political unrest in Baltimore: “Thank God some people of color are here,” she joked, as two late arrivals took their seats in front. “I'm gonna pack you up and take you to Baltimore.”
Referencing another big news story, Christine McVie's return to Fleetwood Mac, Bernhard took the opportunity to revisit her popular “Nightingale” skit, where she imagines the singer/keyboardist foregoing fame and fortune to play hostess at an LA diner, from 1998's I'm Still Here… Damn It!
Sandra Bernhard is at her best when she's recounting celebrity encounters, real and imagined. She perfected this shtick long before Kathy Griffin and Chelsea Handler built careers on it, and thankfully there is no shortage of these tales in #Blessed, where the comedienne describes socializing with Vogue stalwart André Leon Talley and canoodling with Brad Pitt behind Angelina Jolie's back.
Other stars, namely singers, are just there to diss. The comedian likens Ariana Grande's name to a cocktail, calls Taylor Swift the least sexiest woman, and says she's mystified by Lana Del Rey's success.
Miley Cyrus is apparently one young pop star that Bernhard, a sometime singer, can support, as she includes a cover of “Wrecking Ball” in her setlist, along with charismatic renditions of Laura Nyro's “Stoney End,” Roxette's “Listen to Your Heart,” Journey's “Don't Stop Believin'” and “Jolie,” about the A-list actress, in the style of Dolly Parton's “Jolene.”
Sandra Bernhard's own star is rising again, and she recognized a similar upswing in the City by the Bay, last Friday night.
“San Francisco's heart is coming back a little bit,” she said. “The tech came in and gutted this fucking city. Sometimes we're better off without the money. Just ask me. I'm not suffering, but I could have made more shekels.”