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Sandra Bernhard brings sass, class and laughs to Byham

| Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Sandra Bernhard
Courtesy Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
Sandra Bernhard

The gap-tooth smile, the full pouty lips, the expressive doe-like eyes, and the fearlessness of a woman perfectly happy in her imperfect skin — yep, Sandra Bernhard is coming to town.

You can't just call her a comedian, she is so much more than that; she's a singer, a storyteller, an actor, a fashionista and an author. Eager to please and taking no prisoners along the way, Bernhard, never wants to take an audience for granted. This pop culture diva will do what it takes on April 27 at the Byham Theater to provide a great show.

Her show, during which she also sings, will feature critically acclaimed pianist Jeremy Siskind, who tickles the ivories as well as Bernhard tickles our funny bone. According to Bernhard, “you won't miss the band because Siskind is so good.”

You may remember her from her many appearances on “Roseanne” or “The Late Show with David Letterman.” More recently, she was seen on “The L Word” and “Hot in Cleveland.” Bernhard also was featured in the critically acclaimed 1982 movie “The King of Comedy,” which was recently remastered and will be shown this year at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

Whimsical, incendiary and unique, Bernhard, 57, is always on the cutting edge of what is happening today, and is not afraid to speak the truth. As she puts it, “I like to crack it open and reveal my own psyche — to be vulnerable.”

Bernhard's unflappable confidence shows people that it's not only OK to be different, it's an asset.

When Bernhard called, what stuck out the most was how easy the words came to her, and she revealed her sexiest attribute — her brain. She's a person you want to spend a rainy afternoon in New York with, drinking coffee and trying to learn as much as you can from.

Question: You are many things: comedian, actress, author and singer. Do you have a favorite?

Answer: I like to keep it multi-faceted, the schizophrenic me. I like to hop around, sometimes write a joke, another time write a sad poem and other times sing. I like that my act is in flux, it keeps it different.

Q: How was your childhood? Was it normal?

A: Who had a normal childhood? I'll say this, I had an interesting childhood. Between my daughter and me, there isn't that much of a generation gap. For my parents, they were dealing with a lot; the war, etc., and all kids want to break away to find their identity. My brothers were the hippies, the ones that broke the sound barrier. Me, I had a good childhood, my parents were around — lots of love.

Q: How has motherhood changed you?

A: I was always a gypsy, a free spirit. I traveled. I still travel; it's a little more controlled now. I just can't go from Detroit to Paris. And now, it's wonderful to come home. It's a little daunting, but it's grounding.

Q: Who were the people that most influenced you and why?

A: There were a lot of people who influenced me, but, comedically, I wouldn't be doing this if it weren't for Paul Mooney. Paul Mooney and Lotus Weinstock. We lost Lotus a year or so ago, but Paul Mooney saw me on my first open mic and kept me going. He would take me places and make them put me on. He really helped me over the down times when I wanted to walk away from it.

Q: What's next for Sandra Bernhard?

A: We just pitched a project to cable with Melanie Griffith and myself. It is a “fun & sexy” project. It got turned down. We might take it back to the networks. Either way, I will be reading for movies and television and on the road. Plus they remastered the movie “King of Comedy” — it will be featured at the Tribeca Film Festival. I will be in Pittsburgh that day, but I'm hopeful that will show the right people my acting and introduce me to new people.

Q: Tell us something about Sandra Bernhard we might not know.

A: People would probably not know I'm domesticated. I cook, I clean. I keep my house immaculate. I'm pretty fastidious. I go to the gym, I work out. I eat right. That's the complete opposite of what people think. They think I party, get high, but I don't.

Q: What was the best day of your life?

A: Career-wise, it would have to be when they called me to be in “King of Comedy.” Yes, it would have to be that, because that changed everything.

Comedian Matt Wohlfarth is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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