— February 7, 2011 —
Using his modern interpretation of the original Proust Questionnaire, Jefferson Hack uncovers the true mindsets of his peers
Sandra Bernhard American comedian, singer, actress and author Sandra Bernhard has had people in hysterics since she first started her career as a regular and popular staple at The Comedy Store. Featured in Comedy Central’s list of the 100 greatest stand-ups of all time, Bernhard made her big break when Martin Scorsese cast her in the 1983 King of Comedy (she won the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress.) Often one to speak her mind, Bernard is well known for her frankness and outspokenness, which frequently throws up much debate. With a directness in speech she has also presented an openness in sexuality posing naked in 1992 for Playboy. Candid and controversial, there is no doubt that Bernhard has staying power – it has been 23 years since she first performed her one-woman off-Bradway show Without You I’m Nothing. She also played Nancy Bartlett for 33 episodes in the popular sitcom Roseanne, starred in The Sopranos, The L-Word, Will and Grace, released 12 albums of pop, jazz and blues and written three books. Bernhard is also a keen activist lending her talents to benefits for organisations including The Ali Forney Center for LGBT Homeless Youth, and Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS. Here in AnOther’s Proust Questionnaire the polymath shares her love of food, family and fulfillment.
What are you thinking of right now?
About how tiny this print is and how blessed I am that I can still see it without reading glasses.
What makes you laugh?
An afternoon hanging out with fashions high priest André Leon Talley, as he critiques my panties while trying on Chado Ralph Rucci designs.
What makes you cry?
When I run out of food in the house.
What do you consider to be the greatest invention?
The garlic press.
Do you have a mentor or inspirational figure that has guided or influenced you?
Paul Mooney and Lotus Wienstock, two of the most incredible comics who basically discovered me the first night I performed and guided me through the up and downs all these years.
Where do you feel most at home?
New York City.
Where are you right now?
In my apartment in New York.
What is your proudest achievement in work?
The ability it improvise on stage, to take the moment to it's highest potential.
What is your proudest achievement in life?
Every time I put together a new show. And watching my daughter evolve into a lovely young lady.
What do you most dislike about contemporary culture?
Tacky crapped up reality TV and cynical politicians.
What do you most like about the age we live in?
When it works, and you connect with the right people, the immediacy of the internet, used to it highest power.
At what points do life and work intersect?
Every day for me, I take the crazy, the mundane, the nuances and twist it into the mad cap landscape of my performances.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Never judge your life when you're tired, from my darling Lotus Wienstock.
What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
Having my baby on my own.
Recommend a book or poem that has changed your perspective on life?
Most recently Just Kids by Patti Smith.
What is your earliest childhood memory?
Falling asleep with double mint gum and waking up thinking there were bees in my hair, as my mom cut out the gum with a pair of cuticle scissors.
What’s the most important relationship in your life?
There are two: my daughter and my girlfriend of 12 years, Sara.
What’s the most romantic action you’ve taken?
Demanding that Sara become a part of our lives and my daughter's other mother.
What’s the most spiritual action you’ve taken?
Most certainly having my baby, but also sticking to my muses with my work year after year.
If you could wish for one change in the world what would it be?
That really and truly everyone could find their deepest happiness and fulfillment and let everyone else live and be well.
Sandra Bernhard's Whatever It Takes is at Leicester Square Theatre from 9-13 February