The comic, singer and actor, performing in the UK for the first time in seven years, answered your questions
Thanks for all the questions – I’ll be at Ronnie Scott’s at the end of the week!
What does the song You Make Me Feel Mighty Real mean to you? Why chose to cover it?
Mighty Real was sort of an anthem for the pre-AIDS gay experience – a time of unbridled celebration and sexual freedom.
Another admirer of King of Comedy here. What are you most proud of?
What I’m most proud of is that I’m still in the game. I still love performing and being creative. I love what I do!
Have you ever had stage fright? Which of your projects has been the most nerve-racking?
Of course! Any time you walk on stage you’re nervous, that’s part of what motivates you to do a great show. But any time that I do television or films that’s the most nerve-racking because other people are dependent on your professionalism.
Who in your eyes, are the real king and queen of comedy, past or present?
When I was growing up, I adored Totie Fields and, of course, my dear friend Paul Mooney.
Genevieve Scoville asks:
I’m a keen listener to your radio show on SiriusXM. Is there someone who sticks out as your favourite interviewee?
Most recently, Mena Suvari was a lovely surprise but on a regular basis, comedian Judy Gold is a fabulous interview. She’s on my show frequently. She’s a terrific conversationalist.
Beans on a fry-up?
I adore beans. On anything and everything!
Today’s political and cultural climate in the US and the UK is shifting in a way that was not expected by many. As a result, it seems that a comment that once would have been seen as thought-provoking (even if you disagreed with it) can now send social media lynch mobs at people and potentially ruin careers (if not lives). This is seen on the left and on the right. As someone who speaks her opinion, how do you feel about this culture? How do you respond to such things?
I have definitely started to edit a lot of things that I would not have thought twice about saying 10 or 15 years ago. It simply isn’t worth it to be exposed to the unsophisticated thinking of so many people. I’ve learned how to recalibrate my approach to social commentary.
You recently said: “I try not to get caught up and swallowed up by the changing tides because they’re gonna keep changing” … however, now that Oprah indicated a lack of desire to be nominated to run to be the next President of the United States, would you be enticed to throw your hat in the ring? Sandra Bernhard POTUS46 has a nice ring to it.
I wish I had it in me but I’m afraid I’m not your lady for this one!
I’ve always enjoyed your multilayered approach to comedy, and it always seems to have a message. Do you think this is lacking in the current comedy world?
I think the issue is there’s too much product out there. And there’s only a certain amount of things people can talk about. So sometimes it becomes redundant. It’s getting harder to hone your craft because of YouTube and the internet. You really need to get out to the clubs to hone your craft. A lot of people these days don’t have the patience.
There’s an amazing film of yours from the mid 90s – an Australian film called Dallas Doll (featuring the screen debut of Rose McGowan), a sort of reverse Crocodile Dundee. It had a huge cult following, but is unavailable to buy. There’s a host of classic lines in the film, two of which are particular favourites in our family: “I’d like to see THAT angry!” and “Don’t forget the garlic bread, gorgeous.” For old times’ sake, please would you say those lines again now?
Actually it’s Rose Byrne. Working on this film was one of the strangest experiences of my life. It was like being trapped in a ‘no exit’ situation.
What’s your favourite memory of filming Hudson Hawk?
All my time spent with Richard E Grant! In particular a trip we took together to Vienna. We always had a great time.
You performed a brilliant version of the Rolling Stone’s Angie on a Channel 4 show years ago called Viva Cabaret. Is it available now?
The answer is no! It’s one of my favourite songs of all time. It reminds me of my first trip to London in 1973 when the song was released. I was 17 and travelling around the world and having an incredible time.
[I’m] yet another massive fan of your work in King of Comedy. Did your craziness in that film come from real life, or was it a stronger version of [it]? … I’ve known a few women a little like you at times in that film!
At that time i was much closer to the character in the sense that i was just starting out in my career. I was very young, had a lot of extra energy, emotion to spare. Masha was more in tune with who I was then rather than now for sure…
What things are most important to you in your job?
Promptness, professionalism and no obscene language.
Are you as funny in real life as you are on film, tv and stage? PS, you fucking own Raging Bull.
It depends on the setting! Of course I can be much funnier offstage rather than when I’m performing but those are private moments with friends who get the absurdity I seem to capture as I go through life!
Any advice, ideas or recommendations about how to survive Trumpageddon? I live in the US, and each day is more painful than the last. Please help!! PS, thank you for all the years of comedy therapy!
My best advice is to take big breaks from listening to the talking heads and endless updates on his latest faux pas and do something creative and rewarding so you can continue to have some normalcy in your life. As in all stressful times, this will pass!
I see you musically as a rock’n’roll vixen. What can we expect from your set at the jazz church that is Ronnie Scott’s?
It’ll be a blend of personal stories, fabulous misc of course with my Sandyland Squad band on hand and a journey in and out of day-to-day quotidian life as I see it!
Hello – It’s great to be back in London where, although the language is generally the same, the culture is much different. And that’s always inspiring!
Sandra Bernhard webchat – post your questions now
To call Sandra Bernhard a triple threat would be selling her short. Since she started out in LA’s comedy scene and on The Richard Pryor Show, she’s been a provocative force in standup, and her cabaret-style shows prove she can deliver a song as well as a punchline.