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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?

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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!

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Comments

Joaquin_de_la_Mesa March 15, 2012 @ 10:43 a.m.

Wow! A liberal in Hollywood! There's a new twist on things.

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tomjohnston March 16, 2012 @ 4:45 p.m.

At times I have been reduced to voting for the lesser of 2 evils,as in Obama, so I guess that's about the the same as voting for the person deemed least stupid. But you do realize that Sarah Palin wasn't running for President? It's one vote cast for president/VP together. While the electoral college could elect for a different VP, because of the Twelfth, they don't.Even though the Constitution says that the President and Vice President are chosen separately, in practice they are chosen together and I think there has only been one instance in which a VP candidate didn't receive an electoral college majority. I get the idea of what you're saying, but the idea that choice of a VP candidate bears more weight than that of the Presidential candidate of the same party is really odd to me. I understand that you don't want Obama re-elected; he has been a big disappointment to me as well, but as Scott Marks put it, I simply can't consider any of the current alternatives. Not to get preachy, but I have voted for moderate republicans for various offices in the past. But none of these guys come even close to fitting that bill. I could go on and on, but I'll simply end with this: As bad as Obama has been do you really want to elect someone offers these choices: misogynistic, blatantly racist, anti gay rights, anti pro choice, anti women's health, anti military, pro protectionist? At any given time all 4 have displayed most, if not all of these. It's the ultimate political/philosophical dilemma: Is it worse to vote for the lesser of the 2 evils, to vote for someone just because you won't vote for the alternative, or to not vote at all? Tough choices all.

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Scott Marks March 16, 2012 @ 5:36 p.m.

I'm from Chicago where the motto is, "Vote early, vote often!" The last time I voted was one of the few times in my life where it wasn't a case of choosing the lesser of two evils. I wanted Obama to win and I hope he gets a second term. Besides, think how much money we'll save on swastika flags if Santorum doesn't get elected.

Seriously, Tom: what do you think of Sandra Bernhard? ;)

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tomjohnston March 17, 2012 @ 6:28 p.m.

Scott_Marks, Actually both my wife and I think she's great. We've lived up here a long time. From about mid 75 to early 82, unless we were in San Diego, most weekends included the Strip at some point. We saw a lot of the era's best then and Sandra was just starting out in the late 70's. The Comedy Store was the hot comedy club at the time we saw her bunch of times there, just not as the headliner. My wife remembers her as part of Richard Pryor's act at the time so I'll defer to her on that one. Back then and I guess thru much of the 80's, she was pretty hard, kind of in the vein of a Kinison or a Dice Clay. It was a different time then, it wasn't so PC back then and they could get away with more. Ever see Pryor or Red Fox live back then? They would NEVER get away with most of what they did now. At some point Sandra changed it up a little bit. Not so much got soft. It was more like using a finely honed, razor sharp knife to slice you up instead of trying to chop you up with an axe. I have to admit, I never did get the whole Sandra/Madonna thing. It seemed contrived to me. Kinda of like the Madonna/Rosie thing. We also loved her on the Rosanne show and she is a pretty good actress, at least in my opinion I always love a quote of hers on Johnny Carson: The Johnny Carson Show" in 1983, she told Johnny, "I just want to stay in shape, I want to be healthy, I want to live a long life and I want to be here for a long time...to bother a lot of people. We haven't seen her live in quite a few years at least 5 or 6 but probably more. We had other commitments this week, and her only other shows planned so far are up in Seattle so it will probably be a while.

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tomjohnston March 17, 2012 @ 2:13 a.m.

The whole John McCain dying thing was really pretty apparent, and while anyone can drop dead at anytime, it's not been a frequent occurrence of our Presidents. His removal or resignation from office might have been a more likely scenario. This is not meant as a knock, it's just that I just find that to be very odd reasoning. And to be sure, when it comes to the matter of governing at any level, I think she's as dumb as a box of rocks. But I don't think you would have ever had to worry. Had something happened to McCain and she had ascended to the Presidency, she would not have been running the country. Never would have happened. Despite the fact she would have been President, she would have been nothing more than a puppet. The repub powers that be would have been in total control. They would have picked their own replacement VP and Palin would have been dumped at the next election, if not "encouraged" to resign sooner. And I also got the whole Palin hunting thing. But you do realize that many of our Presidents have been hunters and/or fishermen, right? I also can't recall, in my lifetime anyway, a single general election in which either ticket had a candidate that was either vegan or vegetarian. That choice is not a problem for me. Our oldest daughter decided to become a vegetarian on her 13th birthday. Her partner has been one for probably just as long, and I have no doubts at all that while they would never force it, they will for sure encourage their daughter to become one also. Like I said no problem. It's just that with your rabid hatred of us who choose to be carnivores, with us being barbarians and all, it seems odd you would single out Palin. I mean wouldn't be kinda hypocritical to dismiss sweet Sarah for being a meat eater when you have voted for them in the past. Again, to me just an odd criterion. I am glad you responded, though you really didn't answer the question as to the the answer to that "ultimate political/philosophical dilemma" I posed. If you don't want to, that's fine and I respect your choice not to. But don't be so coy about it. If that's the case just say so. Like I said, I'll respect your choice not make or at least reveal your choice. I posed the question sipmly because it's one that many people who voted for Obama in 2008, and I suspect even some who didn't, will have to ask themselves come November.

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tomjohnston March 17, 2012 @ 5:46 p.m.

Unless I am misreading your comments, you seem to be under the impression that I supported McCain and thus Palin? Nothing could be further from the truth.I voted for Obama, though my preference was for Hillary, and though I am unhappy with his performance, I most likely do so again unless a more viable candidate emerges. My issue with McCain is extremely personal, at least to me. I give respect, admiration and thanks to absolutely anyone who had to endure time as a POW, including McCain. But, at least to me, someone who waves that around as a validation for being POTUS doesn't deserve the air he breathes.He didn't do anything that any other POW hasn't done, except in the case of some, survive. My brother came home from Vietnam in a coffin and my uncle never came home at all and I have no doubt they would feel the same. As for Palin, you do get that describing her as dumb as a box of rocks is something less than resounding support, right. The only positive things I can say about her are that she's not running the country and she's is an attractive 48 yr old woman. As my granddaddy would have said, she cleans up nice. The fact is Mindy, I don't think you're just a lowly stupid woman. I really don't think about it at all unless you make some incendiary remark like anyone who eats meat is a barbarian. Or you won't vote for Palin because she hunts, despite probably every other candidate for a federal office that you've voted for isn't a vegan or vegitarian. Or a blatant untruth that POTUS issued Michael Vick a pardon. I mean, talk about being an instigator. And fyi, personally, as far as I'm is concerned if Vick was on fire, I wouldn't even as much pee on him to help. You have made it clear several times that in your opinion I should be tossed and tried have to have it done. But as you notice, I'm still here so someone disagrees. And every time you've complained about something I posted if, it was removed so was your accompanying response. Whatever!!! Sometimes I just add a little info to a conversation that heretofore wasn't talked about and sometimes I offer my own personal opinions, some subjective, some objective. Whether anybody, including you agrees or disagrees is not a factor. I really don't care because in a place like this the only person who thinks they have even the slightest bit of importance is me. Feel free to like what I say or hate what I say. I'm not going to jump for joy or hang my head over what anyone says either way. And I'm for damn sure not gonna run away from the Reader just because I don't like what you or anyone else says to or about me. Have a pleasant evening.

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tomjohnston March 17, 2012 @ 2:25 a.m.

And let me add this one other thought on sweet Sarah. While she comes of as dumb as a box of rocks, her complete and utter failure in the campaign is not entirely her fault. In fact, I would say the the majority of the blame lies with the powers that be. I understand that they felt the need to have a woman on the ballot and maybe they did it because they thought Hillary was going to take the Dems VP slot. But OH MY GOD, how could they take some one like her, someone with so little experience she couldn't even be considered a political neophyte and in less than two weeks, put her in the VP slot WITHOUT ANYONE EVEN MEETING WITH HER IN PERSON. Whomever was in charge of their parties vetting process, which was non existent in that case, should have been tarred and feathered and forced to endure the incessant ramblings of Ron Paul until they had a complete nervous breakdown.

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Ghost_of_dolores_hope March 16, 2012 @ 6:37 p.m.

Happy Birthday to comic genius Jerry Lewis. Just saw The Big Mouth and Three on a Couch for the first time. Underrated classics. Film goers take the man for granted.

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Colonna March 18, 2012 @ 5:08 a.m.

"No politics - I already do comedy for a living."

  • Jerry Lewis
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