Fresh from her recent stint on “The L Word,” the outspoken solo artist has returned to New York City with Sandra Bernhard: Everything Bad and Beautiful, her new Off-Broadway show combining social commentary with comedy and rock ‘n’ roll that opens April 5 at the Daryl Roth Theatre. She recently spoke to Playbill.com about the project.
PLAYBILL.COM: Congratulations on turning 50 last year. How did that feel?
Sandra Bernhard: It was fine. You know, time just goes by when you’re busy and being creative. I’ve got a thirty-year career under my belt now. I had to turn 50 eventually.
PLAYBILL.COM: What made you want to do the show Off-Broadway, as opposed to perhaps a nightclub venue or even Broadway?
SB: I just think it’s less pressure than Broadway. There’s less pressure doing a show downtown. And it attracts more of my audience, per se. When you’re on Broadway, everybody comes to Broadway, but it’s hard to compete with The Lion King and Tarzan. Though I do suppose we can get animals and I can have a harness. We can do S&M Disney for them.
PLAYBILL.COM: How was your show set up at the Daryl Roth Theatre so suddenly?
SB: I did the show in L.A. last year, and then I ran into Daryl Roth at my friend Michelle Lee’s performance at Feinstein’s. She had a play in there already, something about Maine which crashed and burned. So she was like “we need to get you in there right away.” So she put the show on the fast track.
PLAYBILL.COM: Are you also credited as the show’s director?
SB: Essentially, I am. But I actually brought in my friend, a young director named David Brind, who I had just done a short film with. It’s going to be at the Tribeca Film Festival called “Twenty Dollar Drinks.” It’s starring me and Cady Huffman. And I needed another set of eyes and he came in this way.Just some nips and tucks needed to happen. It’s hard to get notes directly from the producer, so he’s kind of being a liaison. He’s very talented.
PLAYBILL.COM: How does it compare to your other solo performances?
SB: Well, upfront, it’s super-political. Obviously, I’m very concerned about where things are in our country. But without beating people over the head with the stuff they talk about every night on “The Tonight Show” and “Letterman,” I’ve managed to find a way of bringing out the irony.
PLAYBILL.COM: What songs are you performing?
SB: They’re all kind of rock and roll ballads. And my big finale encore is a tribute to Prince and all of his progeny.
PLAYBILL.COM: Would you ever consider doing a musical?
SB: I grew up with being very influenced by Hello, Dolly! with Carol Channing, but I don’t think those plays hold up so well. There’s nothing I can think of.
PLAYBILL.COM: What made you choose the title Everything Bad and Beautiful?
SB: Well, I’m very overwhelmed by where we’re at culturally and politically. But as bad as any time is, there’s always beauty to be mined from it, so it’s kind of about that.
PLAYBILL.COM: What makes you feel so overwhelmed?
SB: It’s a disaster. I mean, 2,500 young kids have died in this war. Countless have come home maimed and changed forever. We’ve gone into a country that was already subject to trauma. In spite of everything, Saddam Hussein had it under control. And we turned it over and opened a can of worms that should never been opened.
PLAYBILL.COM: Would you ever considering performing for the troops?
SB: Under the right circumstances, I would, but I don’t know, I’m pretty out there. I don’t know if they’re ready for it. I think anybody who’s in the armed services wants to think that they’re doing the right thing.
PLAYBILL.COM: Are there any celebrities that you hope will attend the show?
SB: Joni Mitchell. Gena Rowlands. Elaine Stritch. And George Clooney. I’ve been observing him outside from his filmmaking and I think as a person he’s really there and real. And I like everything he does.
PLAYBILL.COM: What other projects are you working on?
SB: I’m doing a kind of postmodern variety show for LOGO. Hopefully that’ll turn into a series of specials that I’ll do for them. And I’ve also written an idea for a series for myself that I’m going to present to Fox. There’s a person there who’s very smart and likes me.
PLAYBILL.COM: I noticed that Saturday night has late shows. How do those compare to your other performances?
SB: I’m so completely exhausted that I’m like a blathering idiot. Anything can come out.