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“We like to make it intimate here at Joe’s Pub,” says Sandra Bernhard, illustrating her trademark penchant for frank talk, “You don’t need that Broadway Waspy Albee bull–.” Arriving onstage in a sequined Suzy Wong number and silver go-go boots, Bernhard sings, “Where am I going?,” delighted that she’s right here, accompanied by her long time music director Mitch Kaplan on piano, John Badamo on drums, and guitarist Kevin Andreas, for a happy, entertaining blend of snark and sass. She had the opening nighters of a six-day run at Joe’s Pub eating her brand–now that she is one– out of the palm of her hand, and buying “merch” in the Public Theater lobby, as candor gives way to commerce.
Keyed into the Zeitgeist, she’s obsessed with the Sunday New York Times Style wedding section, quipping she’s just making sure Jews marry Jews. Gay marriage is much more exciting, she kvells with a little political zetz. Don’t get her started on the spare offerings at a goyische Thanksgiving, or the NYT food section reviving schmaltz. She wraps up a vignette over her rivalry with Angelina Jolie in Cannes over Brad Pitt with an adaptation of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene:” “Jolie, Jolie, please don’t take my man,” she sings out. Self-effacing, she shares an email from Jane Fonda who gushes over Sandy B., eh, the other one Sandra Bullock.
Bernhard tells us she lost her mother Jeanette this year. She mentions this in wistful passing, wondering what mom was doing while teenage Sandra was locked in her room listening to Laura Nyro. This quiet moment–maudlin, as she might describe it– shows how she keeps the intimacy alive.
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