Sandra Bernhard: Everything Bad & Beautiful
In the famed comedienne's new show, her outfits are wild but her talk is surprisingly mild.
She starts things off by launching into Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful." It's a persuasive rendition, and not only because Bernhard has long-since proved that she's a reputable rock singer; the number really gets to you because she delivers the fervent lyrics with intensifying passion. Along with Barbra Streisand, Sandra Bernhard has redefined the concept of beauty for a couple of generations -- so much so that women boasting the hallmarks of conventional beauty, from Jessica Simpson to Jennifer Aniston, have been reduced to being merely pretty.
Bernhard is a looker from top to toe, as she makes clear when she does the first of two costume changes mid-show. Facing the audience, she strips off the flowery get-up to reveal Victoria's Secret-like skivvies -- and her whistle-worthy physique -- before changing into a T-shirt and jeans. If she were to execute this seductive routine on a highway, trucks would collide. (The third and final outfit she dons is a shiny leopard-print slip of a dress.)
She may look a little wild, but Bernhard's comments and observations in this show are remarkably tame. True, she throws in as many obscenities as there are leopard spots on the designer frock, but she doesn't really say much -- not much that sticks with you, anyway. Maybe motherhood has mellowed her, along with the fact that she's in a contented relationship with her partner, whom she also discusses.
Every once in a while, she launches a zinger or fires a thought-provoking remark. Bernhard gets momentarily nasty about Lynne Cheney and has a thing or two to say about the proper way to support American troops in Iraq. She warbles "Like a Rolling Stone" and recounts a phone conversation that she had with Bob Dylan. Vincent Van Gogh crosses her mind, maybe because that flowery dress looks as if it might have been lifted from one of his canvasses, and she notes that his art became greater the more his depression deepened. How creative, she muses, would or wouldn't a modern-day Van Gogh be if he were prescribed Zoloft or Paxil?