Actress/Comedian/Singer Sandra Bernhard performed her cabaret show Feel the Bernhard at the beautiful Trinity Cathedral on Saturday, April 30th. First coming to prominence as Robert De Niro’s accomplice in Martin Scorsese’s 1983 opus The King of Comedy, Bernhard went on to play the first openly-gay character on network television as a neighbor of Roseanne.
The hundred-year old cathedral severed as an interesting choice to host the outspoken comedian. She told the audience that “sometimes a Jew has to come to a (different) house of worship” as she thanked the “hearty people” of Cleveland for attending the show. Promising to keep it “language light,” the often-bawdy ingénue seemed nervous to use any adjectives that hovered above the PG-13 range.
Backed by a three-piece band comprised of local musicians, Bernhard opened the show with a nice rendition of Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind.” She also waxed poetic on a variety of topics throughout the evening while occasionally singing a song when the mood, arbitrarily, struck her.
The sixty-year old is in great shape as evidenced by her form fitting little black dress “with pockets.” She told a story about being upset one day because she had nothing to wear. So her girlfriend decided to take her shopping in New York City with her “Black American Express Card” and found the perfect little number that can be worn for all occasions, including as a rough-and-tumble sleeper.
Gay marriage was a subject that was brought up early in the show. She said that she has been with her girlfriend for many years and her manager asked her if marriage was something she was going to consider. Sandra asked her accountant to “crunch the numbers” to see how much of a tax break she would get by getting hitched. When he came back with a whopping total of $6,700 a year she said that marriage “wasn’t enough for her investment,” so that she and her partner will, alas, remain girlfriends.
Later in the show she read a funny email correspondence that she had with Jane Fonda. After Fonda had recently won an award, Sandra sent a congratulatory email to her and signed it “Sandra B.” After a few exchanges back and forth, Bernhard realized that Fonda was thinking of another Sandra B: Sandra Bullock and quickly blew her off.
Even famous people can get embarrassed.
A few other topics she riffed on included: Singer Lana Del Rey: “She makes Fiona Apple look Olympian.” The hotel she was staying at while in town: “Can you unclog my drain, and how about a feather pillow?” And even Cleveland itself: “There are so many beautiful abandoned buildings.”
She did, however, make a lot of references to New York; mentioning streets, stores and famous people that may have gone over the heads of many people in the audience.
Finally, Bernhard got a little political by telling the crowd to get out and “do the right thing” and vote for Hillary.
After a quick wardrobe change, Bernhard returned to close the show by paying tribute to Prince by playing “Sometimes It Snows In April.”
Echoing much of the dry wit that has made her famous, Bernhard told the audience that she would meet everyone at the merch table after the show. Cash only, please; this would be the only opportunity to buy a t-shirt or CD because she doesn’t sell her things online.
“I don’t want to pay taxes.”
Other artists should take note.
Concert Review by Greg Drugan
Images by Brian M. Lumley