"I’m having a career renaissance,” comedian Sandra Bernhard on why people are more interested in hearing her now
MEAWW sat down with one of the biggest names in comedy, Sandra Bernhard, to discuss her ever evolving career and why people are finally interested in what she has to say.
Sandra Bernhard is one of the most prolific female figures in comedy and has been killing the game ever since she arrived in Los Angeles and started doing stand up in the mid 70s. While she might not necessarily be a household name, she’s the kind of performer that once you see her face or hear her voice, you know exactly who she is.
After doing stand-up comedy for a few years, Bernhard was cast on ‘The Richard Pryor Show’, which catapulted her career. She then started getting cast in smaller, character roles in several big films. This then led her to land the part of Nancy in ‘Roseanne’, which truly changed her career forever.
Being bi-sexual herself, Bernhard made history on the hit sitcom with the first ever lesbian kiss on network television. This in turn got Bernhard to open up to audiences both on stage and screen, showing them bits of who she was in her personal life.
“I have intimated things about my sexuality and layered it into my work for years in interesting, compelling and creative ways that revealed that part of my personal life. Just to make statements doesn’t have much power but if you are infusing your work all the time with integrity and nuance, it creates a much more consistent way of inspiring people. I manage to keep outwitting people and breaking the mold of preconceptions.”
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Back when Bernhard started doing stand-up in the mid seventies and into the eighties, not everyone necessarily connected with or understood her post-feminist, unapologetic, anti-self deprecating material. However times have changed and her persona is far more appealing to audiences today than they ever have been. Bernhard has always known who she was and is finally getting the recognition she deserves.
“It’s funny because things are finally coming around for me. I just did ‘American Horror Story’ and I am going to be a season regular on ‘Pose’, Ryan Murphy’s other show. Ryan was actually a big fan of mine from back in the 80s and had seen me perform quite a bit. It just seems like years later, things are finally coming around, but you just never know. Right now is the first time I have been this excited in a long time, it’s like I’m having a career renaissance.”
While new and pivotal relationships have developed for Bernhard in the entertainment industry over the past few years, some have ended, namely her friendship with Roseanne Barr. It’s no secret that Bernhard and Barr’s political leanings are quite different, however it wasn’t until Barr’s infamous Twitter rant (which led to the cancellation of her show) that Bernhard and Barr lost touch. Bernhard opened up on the topic and shared her thoughts on her fellow comedian’s downfall.
“Roseanne and I were friends for a long time. I just saw her taking this strange turn in her life with her philosophy and politics. There is really not much to say about it, everything she has said is so incendiary and wrong and terrible and I just don’t know where it’s coming from. I didn’t have any contact with her after all of that happened, most people really didn’t. She just sort of exploded, crashed and burned and then pretty much just went into hiding. Nobody has heard from her. People make strange detours in life and I just can’t imagine why.”
While Barr’s career is certainly at a standstill, Bernhard’s career is in full swing. Between her television and film roles, consistent stand-up shows and her podcast ‘Sandyland’ on Andy Cohen’s SIRIUS XM channel, Bernhard is connecting now with audiences in a way that she never did before.
“I think people are more interested in hearing my voice and my comedy now than they were when I started. I think people see that I am still going out, performing and doing my thing. I have never had that kind of resentful, cynical bitter veneer that people get if they don’t get exactly what they want at a certain time in their career. I think people are kind of getting hip to the whole picture of Sandy.”
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Bernhard is most definitely one of the most influential women in not just comedy, but in the entertainment industry as a whole.
Make sure to catch Bernhard on the next season of ‘Pose’ and at her stand-up shows all over the country, including her residency at Joe’s Pub in New York City the week between Christmas and New Years!