A GoPride Interview

Sandra Bernhard

Sandra Bernhard brings her one-woman show to Milwaukee PrideFest

Thu. June 5, 2014  by Michael J. Roberts

I’m so excited to be going to Milwaukee! It is going to be a great gay evening.
Sandra Bernhard
Actress, singer and comedienne Sandra Bernhard, known for live in-your-face performances, kicked-off her 2014 tour, "Sandyland," in early January. Now the comic legend has her sights set on Milwaukee PrideFest, Sunday, June 8.

ChicagoPride.com recently got the chance to talk to Bernard to discuss her incredible career that spans over 40 years, her dislike for social media, how Lesbian characters are now in the television mainstream and her love for musical theater.

MJR: (Michael J. Roberts) Hi Sandra , its great to talk with you again. I've been looking at the breadth of your work in preparing for this interview from The King of Comedy to all your new projects. How have you managed to stay relevant all this time?

SB: (Sandra Bernhard) Simple Michael, I work my ass off! Not just me but all the comedians who came from seventies and eighties. People just seem a lot more fragmented now.

MJR: Why do you think that is?

SB: Well people don't go out as much as they used to. Not only that but the market is saturated with too many people out there trying to 'make it'.

MJR: I know you are not a fan of social media, why is that?

SB: Social media is bad for the soul because people have learned to be very cynical and horrible to each other because there is no since of human intimacy with that medium. You need contact with other people because that is how art is formed and real friendships are forged. Facebook makes it harder for people to actually relate to each other!

MJR: I have always said that stand up comedy is really that last bastion for free speech as far as an artist's expression in this country. Do you think social media seems to be intruding on that?

SB: Absolutely. You know that you can take anything out of context but stand up comedy should make people feel uncomfortable. People like Richard Pryor would never be able to make it today because people would be all over him because he sure wasn't "politically correct" but pushed the envelope to a broader discussion through his comedy. That could never happen now.

MJR: Let's talk about your musical influences as you have one of the best voices I have ever heard and "Manic Superstar" remains one of my favorites albums of all time.

SB: Thank you, Michael. I love musical theatre, and if I had not of taken the comedy path, I probably would have ended up more into singing and plays. When I started in stand up comedy, there wasn't much of a hybrid to do other things, but I kinda broke the rule on that. But singing remains a big passion for me. I still would love to do a Broadway musical and think I will at some point. Right now with having my daughter in high school, it is hard to be out ever night. With raising a family, its good to be able to go on the road, to my short gig than come back home, so for all the producers out there, I will be more available in a few years! But actually now I'm able to work on a bunch of different projects including some for TV and film.

MJR: You are one of the busiest people in show business Sandra.

SB: (Laughing) No, Michael, I'm really not. But I am having a great time doing the TV show for ABC Family called "Switched at Birth" because it is given me a chance to do a more dramatic role then I am usually given. I also have a few other shows I am on the verge of pitching to a few networks as well along with a film version based on some of the live shows I've been doing for the past few years as well.

MJR: What do you think about all the new projects slated for television featuring primarily Lesbian characters such a "Faking It", "Orange Is The New Black" and Ellen's new show she is producing, "The Big Happy", especially when you were featured on one of the first to become a hit with "The L Word" on Showtime?

SB: "The L Word" was a game changer for television for its time but you know, people are just a lot more open now. As more and more people get comfortable with racial equality and sexual identity, the more these shows have lead gay characters in everyday plot situations. In today's day and age, everyone knows someone who is gay whereas just ten or fifteen years ago someone might have been gay but still would be in the closest. Now everyone is like, "yep, I'm gay!" and families and friends are accepting. Of course there are still the exceptions and unfortunately there always will be.

MJR: So tells us about your appearance at Milwaukee PrideFest.

SB: I'm so excited to be going to Milwaukee! I haven't been there in a long time and I hear PrideFest is really, really fun. There is going to be some great entertainment and want to make sure all my fans from Chicago come to Milwaukee to see me because my band is from Chicago. It is going to be a great gay evening.

MJR: Will you do Manic Superstar for me?

SB: Of course, just for you, Michael!

Don't miss Sandra Bernhard's one-of-a kind live show, "Sandyland," at the Henry Maier Festival Park/Miller Main Stage (Summerfest Grounds) at 200 N. Harbor Drive as part of Milwaukee Pridefest in Milwaukee, WI. on Sunday, June 8th. Tickets are $13 in advance and $16 at the gate. (special reserved seating also available). For tickets visit: pridefest.com.

Interviewed by Michael J. Roberts. Michael J. Roberts is theatre editor for the ChicagoPride.com covering Chicago's diverse arts and entertainment scene.


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