Comedian and actress Sandra Bernhard is heading to the City Winery for two nights to start off the new year, spotlighting her recent work entitled I Love Being Me, Don't You?
Her Oscar-nominated role in Martin Scorsese's King of Comedy brought her into the public eye back to 1983. Playing the first openly gay character on the sitcom Roseanne led to other shows including The L Word, Hot In Cleveland, and Will & Grace.
Bernhard has written three books and sings live regularly. She has opened for acts such as Cyndi Lauper and the Scissor Sisters. If you haven't heard her rendition of "Midnight Train to Georgia" then you have missed the boat.
Windy City Times caught up with her before an upcoming Joe's Pub gig and trip to Chicago.
Windy City Times: Hi, Sandra. It's been years since I've seen you in Chicago.
Sandra Bernhard: Well, it's time to get back there, that's for darn sure. Here I am, ready to roll…
WCT: Is it the same show both nights at the City Winery?
Sandra Bernhard: The bones will be the same but there will be some changes each night because I tend to get improvisational with topics in the moment. I do have a set show because you want to give people their money's worth, but will be fun and improvisational as well though.
WCT: After seeing you perform live a few times, I was wondering if it bothers you when the audience yells things out or is that part of the fun?
Sandra Bernhard: It dependsyou know what I mean? In small doses it is kind of fun. When people are interactive to a certain degree. It has kind of been less and less over the years since it can be kind of irritating and ruins the flow of the show. It doesn't happen as often as it used to. I try to roll with the punches.
WCT: It is usually just fans who want to hear your take on something. It's not like it's a heckler or something.
Sandra Bernhard: Totally.
WCT: This will be your first show of the brand new year.
Sandra Bernhard: You are right. I'm doing my show at Joe's Pub on New Year's Eve, then Chicago will be kicking off a new year. I love Chicago. I have a couple of really good friends there. Partly being from the Midwest (with Michigan), I like the vibe. It is one of my favorite American cities so I am always ready to come back.
WCT: Are you bringing the whole band with you?
Sandra Bernhard: I'm actually only bringing my guitar player, who has put together two other vocal musicians because these days to travel with a whole band is very costly. It will be very together and cohesive by the time we all get there.
WCT: Any cover songs you are planning on singing?
Sandra Bernhard: Oh yeah, but I never give that away because when people come then they want to be surprised. It is part of the fun of what I do. I will be doing some new songs at Joe's Pub so I am not sure if I want to incorporate some of those or not. I don't know definitely what the set list will be but it will be some choice stuff for sure.
WCT: There could be a live album out of this one day in the futurewho knows?
Sandra Bernhard: Right, exactly.
WCT: City Winery has really been showing a variety of acts this year.
Sandra Bernhard: I know the venue because there is one in New York. I heard the Chicago one is even nicer, so I am all about it.
WCT: You have been on Bravo's Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen there regularly for a while.
Sandra Bernhard: I did my little 10-week stint with him. He has things he wants to accomplish on the show and he has a short time to get it all done. It is a special thing every time. I love him. He's been very supportive of me.
WCT: Jane Fonda was on there with you recently so that must have been amazing.
Sandra Bernhard: It was. We have become friends over the years. She is someone I really admire. She does a lot of great work. She's a good person.
WCT: Do you have a favorite Bravo show you watch?
Sandra Bernhard: I'm kind of in and out of watching the Housewives thing when I have to do it for the show. My TV viewing is on limited time so I pick things that are unique. It serves its purpose and is fun in small doses.
WCT: Would you ever do a reality show?
Sandra Bernhard: Not like that, no. I might do something that is an unscripted, interesting, smart version but that is almost impossible to do.
WCT: Do you think American Idol will be crazy this season?
Sandra Bernhard: With Nicki Minaj and Mimi [Mariah Carey]?
Sandra Bernhard: No more than these other shows with the combinations of people they have. I guess that is the whole point because it is a runaway train. It's a weird new hybrid of entertainment and competition. It doesn't really speak to me so I will watch a little bit, but that's it. It's more about how I grew up and the people I admire. It's a different world.
WCT: How was being on TV Land's Hot in Cleveland?
Sandra Bernhard: It was super-fun! They are all talented and wonderful people. They are all warm and supportive. It's always a joy to be around people on set like that.
WCT: Any big plans for 2013?
Sandra Bernhard: My goal in the New Year is to end up on television. I'm working on that actively. There are a lot of good things in the works.
WCT: People can keep up with that on Twitter. I know you are on there often.
Sandra Bernhard: Yes, all my social media; people can know what I'm thinking. I tend to not go too overboard just because some of the people on there are not as open and intelligent as I would like them to be. They take things a little too literally. It's hard to be ironic on Twitter.
WCT: People take sarcasm the wrong way on there.
Sandra Bernhard: Sometimes. People don't pick up on the nuances as much as I would like them to.
WCT: That is why they need to come see you live.
Sandra Bernhard: Thank you. You just hit the nail on the head!
Bernhard loves being her at the City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph St., on Friday-Saturday, Jan. 4-5, at 8 p.m. Visit www.citywinery.com or www.sandrabernhard.com for more information and tickets.