Comic Sandra Bernhard comes to Guild Hall on Friday with a show that is so much more than standup.
“It’s a one-woman kind of extravaganza,” Bernhard says. She mixes storytelling with a cabaret act that includes both original music and cover songs, performed with her band The Flawless Zircons.
The self-assured performer says her monologues and observations are offbeat yet very compelling and funny—“and brilliant if I do say so myself.”
Her stories are often personal and topical, and not always planned. “I have written entire pieces on stage in the moment,” she says.
Being a young kid in the late ’60s and ’70s, Bernhard says, she was exposed to the feminist movement, which allowed women to be funny and confident.
“When I started performing, my work was very anti-self-deprecation—the same drum that had been beaten for many years,” she says. “We all like to make fun of ourselves to a certain extent because we all have our weird habits and foibles that make us interesting. And it’s OK when it’s in a naturalistic, sophisticated and fun manner, she says, but fat jokes and husband jokes are bad for the person and bad for the spirit of evolution; she wants a more interesting approach to her art.
Bernhard considers herself and her work postfeminist.
She names among those she admires Carole Burnett, Mary Tyler Moore, Goldie Hawn and Julie Christie, women she says have a unique sense of themselves and the world. And she also counts among her influences women who write their own music, including Carole King, Carly Simon and Joni Mitchell.
When she infuses music into her act, she is sometimes just accompanied by a pianist, but for this show a three-piece band will share the East Hampton stage with Bernhard.
Bernhard is no stranger to the Hamptons. She visits friends here once or twice every summer and has even rented homes for weeks at a time herself with her partner and daughter.
“I love East Hampton because it’s just incredibly beautiful,” Bernhard says.” “There are just so many parts that you just can’t believe.” She also loves to cook and to barbecue outside on a quiet afternoon, so visiting Hamptons organic farm stands for ingredients is another treat for her.
Bernhard is based in New York City, but is frequently traveling to Hollywood or on the road.
She has a recurring role on ABC Family’s Switched at Birth and in addition to her touring schedule, Bernhard is working to get a few television projects off the ground. She is looking for a show runner and pitching to networks. She also hopes to take material from her act that she has curated for the past 10 or 15 years and turn it into a film.
“There’s not that many performers who have been doing it as long as I’ve been doing it,” Bernhard says. “My work has stood on its own and I think it transcends each era that I’ve been a part of.”
Bernhard’s show kicks off the inaugural Guild Ha!! Comedy Nights series. Upcoming performers are Jon Lovitz (June 28), John Leguizamo (July 3), Rob Schneider (August 26), and Celebrity Autobiography with Alec Baldwin, Christie Brinkley, Tovah Feldshuh, Ralph Macchio, Jerry O’Connell, Eugene Pack, Dayle Reyfel, and Rebecca Romijn (August 22).
Sandra Bernhard and The Flawless Zircons perform Friday, June 20, 8 p.m. at the John Drew Theater at Guild Hall, 158 Main St, East Hampton, NY 11937. Tickets are $45, $65 and $75. Call 631-324-0806 or visit guildhall.org.
Also catch Bernhard Friday, July 18, at Suffolk Theater in Riverhead for the Hamptons LGBT Comedy Festival. More details at suffolktheater.com.