Punchline Magazine Interviews Sandra Bernhard
by Emma Kat Richardson, Punchline Magazine
Comedy icon Sandra Bernhard headlines Rooftop Comedy’s Out Loud Comedy and Arts Festival — running Oct. 7 – 10 — in San Francisco. In in an interview with Punchline Magazine, the versatile force of nature tells all!
Sandra Bernhard – actress, comedian, musician, pusher of societal buttons – has been a major league hitter in the entertainment game since the late ‘70s. Her career has spanned the administrations of presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and… well, you get the idea. Some would even say that her multi-range talents have included a trip into the much-traveled panties of the Material Girl, but it all depends on who you ask, and how drunk they are. (Bernhard herself has since refuted this long-nourished tale.)
Regardless, controversy and the endlessly churning celebrity rumor mill have always taken a backseat to the intricate craft of Bernhard’s comedy, and her staying power speaks as an undeniable testament to the driving force that is Ms. Sandra B.
And with appearances in more than 60 movies and TV shows, coupled with the kind of stand-up stamina that would send a million wannabe open mic stars weeping into their cheap beers, who’s going to successfully argue that her eventual tombstone should make any reference at all to Madonna?
Performing at Rooftop Comedy’s Out Loud Comedy Festival Oct. 7–10 in San Francisco, our favorite Roseanne guest star caught up with Punchline Magazine to rap about the gay community, Richard Pryor, and why she loves to sing the blues.
Punchline Mag: You’ve been performing since the late ‘70s. When you first started out, did you ever expect your career to maintain this level of longevity? Did you set out for that?
Sandra Bernhard: Oh, well, I thought I’d be a much bigger star than I am. [Laughs]. But I think I’ve been able to maintain my integrity and do my work and really enjoy it. I was just kidding about being a bigger star. Everything kind of comes in a wave. You do a project, and you get a lot of attention, or you can keep doing what you’re doing and sometimes people won’t notice it. Being a perennial, that’s the most rewarding part – being able to do my career the way I’ve done it.
Punchline Mag: Do you feel like it gives you a lot of creative leeway, because you’re not, as you said, living under a certain set of expectations?
Sandra Bernhard: Yeah. I don’t care for that. It’s just too much. You can end up saying the wrong thing, and people will ask you to backtrack and explain it. It’s like, that happens once in a while; I’ll say things that are controversial, and people will want to know if I meant it, but in general, when I perform, I get to do what I want to do and say it the way I want to say it. That makes me happy.
Punchline Mag: That’s interesting that they’d ask you if you really meant it. Would you say something you didn’t mean, as a comedian?