Sandra Bernhard is a woman of many talents. Stand-up has always been a part of her act, even before her big break in Martin Scorsese's The King of Comedy, for which she won the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress.
After her many appearances on the Roseanne sitcom she continues with more TV shows such as Brooklyn Nine-Nine and recently on 2 Broke Girls as a lesbian owner of a Manhattan restaurant.
Bernhard returns to Chicago and talks being blessed with a Nunn.
Windy City Times: Hi, Sandra. I see you have been traveling all over.
Sandra Bernhard: I have been doing my usual assortment of shows.
WCT: And grilling out for Fourth of July…
SB: Yeah, we were out in Hudson, New York, which was really nice to get out of the city for a few days so that was fun.
WCT: So talk about the new act, "#blessed."
SB: Well, my work is always in progress because things change culturally. I always try to keep it up to date and fresh. There are longer pieces that are a little more evergreen and there's more topical stuff. It covers the wide swath of life and experiences that I stay open to. It is all intermingled with great music using my Chicago based band. They are rocking. It will be another great night of fun with Sandy. [Laughs]
I don't like to overexplain specifically about my shows, but there is continuity in my work that has spanned all the years that I have been doing it. I think that is why people come back again and again. They want to hear what I have to say and get caught up in my world.
WCT: I love the celebrity stories.
WCT: I read that there is burlesque in the show.
SB: Nowhen I describe my show, I say there are elements of burlesque, cabaret [and] rock, and I think people just get confused. I talk about all of the stylistic entertainment values that I bring to my shows.
WCT: The #blessed expression is playing off how everyone thinks they are blessed these days?
SB: Yesthe absurdity of social media, how people come to that letting everybody know the wonderful things that are happening or whatever they need to talk about, and having everybody else see that they are talking about it. We can't be thankful or happy or sad in private anymore. It is all done for the benefit of followers or the extra followers you might get from baring your soul, whether it is the truth or not.
WCT: I wonder what God did before all the prayers on Facebook?
SB: Probably about as much as he's doing now … I will leave it at that! It kind of takes the responsibility out of the hands of the people and turns it over to unknown entities. I think it is better to take control of your own life. That is the best advice I always have for people.
WCT: What is your opinion on new female comics like Amy Schumer?
SB: I think everybody who has worked hard and been out there doing their thing deserves success. I think everybody has some sort of talent. What speaks to me are subtly and nuance. It was funny: My girlfriend and I were watching 9 to 5 last night with Jane, Lily and Dolly. There is such a difference in 35 years of filmmaking where people had space in a film and were not hitting people over the head with grotesque body functions. I like smart work and anyone who brings that I like. That is what my work is about and what I respond to in other people's work.
WCT: Did you watch the Netflix show Grace and Frankie, with Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda?
SB: Yes, I did. I think they could have done a better job writing that show for those two women because they are so sharp and talented. It is a little soft, the writing…
WCT: Maybe second season it will pick up.
SB: I hope so. It should and they deserve better. I will take it any way I can get it because you want to see those women work forever.
WCT: Lily is such a class act. They don't make people like that anymore.
SB: No, they don'tthat's for sure.
WCT: I think since Joan Rivers died we haven't heard people making politically incorrect jokes as much.
SB: That is the problem with political correctness and irreverence. It is a tragedy for the American comedy scene. I was saying to my girlfriend this morning that I have to measure out every word that I say to not offend people, then spend all this time explaining what I really meant. When I started performing I could just say things and they were funny. The audience would get the layers. That is how it should be. No good, smart performer should have to explain anything. It's a bummer and ruining the whole process.
WCT: Don't change because you are funny.
SB: Thank you. I'm not changing, believe me, but the world is not open to the nuances it once was.
WCT: Now that the Supreme Court ruling [regarding marriage equality] has come down, I saw you focusing on reproductive rights on social media.
SB: Of course it is fabulous that people can get married now. It is long due, but when you turn around and people are still being shot in churches because of their skin color in the South, I look at the whole picture. Women's reproductive rights are almost extinct at this point so I continue to worry and stay involved in all of the different aspects of social justice. Everyone is thrilled about marriage equality, that's a given.
WCT: How was being on the television show 2 Broke Girls?
SB: It was fabulous. I had a great time. The girls are really fun. They were open and welcomed me as the entire cast did. It was a great experience with an old school sitcom … or new school sitcom!
WCT: Do you get to have fun while in Chicago?
SB: I'm really not because I am in and out. I have to get back because there is stuff happening at home. I love Chicago. I would like to come there and just hang out and not be performing because whenever I am working in a city I never get to have extra time. It's too much.
WCT: What are you doing after touring?
SB: This is not a proper tour since I perform around every year. That is a part of my career. I have something big coming up but it is still in negotiations. Until then, I will continue to do what I do. I am #thankful!
Find out what she's so #blessed with two shows at City Winery July 23 and 24 at 8 p.m. Visit CityWinery.com for tickets.
Bernhard's exploits can be found on SandraBernhard.com .