Sandra Bernhard: Sandy’s Holiday Extravaganza-A Decade of Madness and Mayhem

Sandy Bernhard (Photo Courtesy of Brian Ziegler)


by Carole Di Tosti


Sandra Bernhard is a performer, actress, singer and author who never receded from the public eye since she became known for her stand-up comedy. Her break-out came with her memorable performance in The King of Comedy (1983) for which she won the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best supporting Actress. Since then Ms. Bernhard’s illustrious career skyrocketed and she has not stopped since. Currently, she hosts her popular daily radio broadcast, Sandyland. She looks fabulous (at 64-years-old) and is a walking dynamo who has been headlining during the holidays at Joe’s Pub to a smash turn out at both her 7:00 pm and 9:30 pm shows.

Somehow, a decade has passed. To celebrate its close Sandy’s at Joe’s Pub, once more to capstone her New Year’s spectacular, you can see her this evening. Our nation has moved through a decade of unprecedented events, politically, socially, financially, every which way but loose. From downs to ups, from lefts to rights, like the song says, “The World Goes Round.” Thankfully, now in her 10th year at Joe’s Pub, Sandy recaps the mishmash that was and puts the cherry on top of the holiday season poking fun at our enslaving routines and idiocies, using herself at the chief foil.

Did you know that Sandra Bernhard studied opera as a child? You can hear the strength and power in her voice and her breathing control when she sings with her Sandyland Squad Band. In her comedy/cabaret act there are songs and music that saliently embrace her monologues and stories. Her songs range from classic pop music, jazz, and blues tunes. Indeed, those early lessons she took paid off. This is obvious with her rendition of “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess which brought down the house last night. She has released several albums which include both comedy and music as both mediums inspire each other and fill out her creative repertoire.


(Photo: Carole Di Tosti)


Sandra Bernhard’s masterful one-liners were on subjects from the renovation of her kitchen which flew by the years and has yet to happen to her enjoyment of watching Nicole Wallace at 4:00 pm on MSNBC because Nicole switched parties and is moving in the right direction. She averred that by the evening she is too stressed by events to listen calmly to Rachel Maddow.

Happily, and to much applause of the males in the audience, she stated that women are “running the world,” and directed us to raise a glass to Speaker Nancy Pelosi who, at 79-years-old, “looks and is phenomenal.” We, of course, did while she emphasized the point that Donald Trump is terrified of her. All of these riffs brought laughs to a welcomed audience.

Ms. Bernhard brought out her flip phone which she still adores and reminded us of the devastation of learning how to switch to the iPhone. Such were the technological difficulties which were the easy part of life before the 2016 election. She hovered with one liners about the President, referring to “The Kremlin West, formerly known as the White House” to laughter. And she riffed about Trump’s use of Irish Spring to keep himself clean (its scent is devastating and keeps away mice) and the handy Tic Tacs by his bedside, “just in case…” (You fill in the rest.)

A tennis fan, as Sandy is, I particularly enjoyed her riffs about tennis and Serena Williams. Though she no longer goes to the US Tennis Open (it is too heartbreaking) she watches it on television where she is able to applaud and cry without the pressure and tension of a live match. She made some interesting points about Serena’s rival at 24 Grand Slams, Margaret Court. Actually, there is no adequate comparison with the level of play, the equipment, the power required from Court’s game to Serena’s. The equivalence just isn’t.

As always, Bernhard’s comedy is ripe and the music is vibrant. Her show at Joe’s Pub is around one hour and change and is a hoot. If you’ve never seen her perform live and love her, there is still an opportunity to get down to Joe’s Pub (425 Lafayette Street).


For tickets to this evening’s performance go to:

To keep up with Sandy you can catch her online at her site: