Liz Swain 4:24 p.m., May 24
Sandra Bernhard at the La Jolla Playhouse
It was all very last minute, but I'm delighted that comedian, author, actress, and singer Sandra Bernhard was able to spend a few minutes talking to The Big Screen.
Simply put, Sandra Bernhard has one of the funniest minds on the planet. Bernhard's live-shows are part cabaret act and part stand-up comedy aimed at skewering political targets and showbiz fatuousness with her delicious serrated-tongued delivery.
Sandra can currently be seen through March 17 at the La Jolla Playhouse in her one-woman show I Love Being Me, Don't You? Tickets are still available. Click for more information.
Scott Marks: You and I go way back. I'm from Chicago, where I saw you perform many times at the Park West.
Sandra Bernhard: That's so cool! I love the Park West. Those were great dates.
At first I thought the title of your new one-woman show was I Love Being Mean, Don't You? You're still mean, aren't you?
Well, I don't think it's necessarily about being mean. It's sort of a commentary on how social media has taken over, taken the place of the performer. Everybody has surpassed the Andy Warhol "15 minutes of fame" prediction. Everybody has their moment and it's really about me. It's a me culture.
I remember you saying some terrible, terrible things about your fellow performers. You called American treasure, and daughter of the late Judy Garland, Liza Minelli, the 'C' word.
No. I never called Liza a 'C' word. I'm friends with Liza.
This was also something like 30 years ago.
Anytime I've ever said anything about people like that it was...I was pretending to be drunk or something, or pretending to be her mother. I would never say that as me just saying that verbatim. There's always a context anytime I critique anybody. Even if I didn't like someone intensely I wouldn't call them that verbatim unless there was something else going on.
You were definitely in character and the audience was definitely laughing.
It's important to point that out because reading something in print, people don't always get the nuance.
You also took some potshots at a personal deity, Jerry Lewis. What was it like working with Jerry and Scorsese on The King of Comedy?
Robert DeNiro, Sandra Bernhard, and Martin Scorsese learn at the foot of the Master.
It was fabulous. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I learned so much from everybody on that film, including Jerry. Is he easy to get along with? No. Is he notoriously crank and misogynistic? Yes. But that doesn't mean you don't have a great experience in spite of people's limitations. It was incredible.
How is it that you and movies never clicked? It seems like such a natural fit.
It certainly wasn't my choice. I'm still working on it. I've done my fair share of movies. Some of them might have been a little more under the radar than others because there are a lot of independent films that get tossed to the side. Do I wish I was a leading person in movies? Sure. Do I hope that it happens again? Yeah. Anything's possible. You can't get into that because different things happen in your career and life. You kinda' gotta' roll with it and enjoy what you're doing.
In your estimation, what is wrong with contemporary cinema?
Filmmaking has become very lazy. There are a lot of people doing it that probably couldn't have done it 25 years ago. Everybody can pick up a High-Def camera and make a film. I don't see that necessarily as a good thing. The originators of cinema really had a passion for storytelling. A lot of that is missing.
People always complain that the stories aren't there but you hit it on the head when you say it's the fault of the storytellers.
I think so.
What are some of the new targets you set your sites on in I Love Being Me, Don't You?
I try to cover the waterfront of politics. It's everything we see all day long on Twitter and Facebook and read on the blogs. The speed at which things move and the attention deficit which everybody suffers from...everything from prescription medication to my daughter being in 8th grade. I cover a wide swath of topics that are personal, political, and sociological in nature.
Do you think the Republican contenders are basically handing Obama the election on a silver platter?
Yes and no. Everybody still has to get out and vote and support Obama. Unless we vote for an all-Democratic Senate and Congress he's going to be stuck in the same situation again. This is the problem. He could have effected a lot more change the past 4 years had he had the support, not spending half the time battling these regressive thinkers. The key right now is to really get the right people to work in conjunction with him so he could get things accomplished these next 4 years.
You are also quite the chanteuse. Can we expect to hear some original songs added to your repertoire?
Yes, absolutely. There's a nice selection of music in my show with a great band.
Have you done much time in San Diego?
Over the years I have. I haven't been down here in a long time. I'm particularly happy to be back in Southern California, particularly La Jolla. It's one of my favorite places in the world. It's incredibly beautiful and peaceful.
What's not to love?
There is nothing not to love!