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Last Night: Sandra Bernhard at Colony Theater

Sandra Bernhard
Photo by Lydia Marcus

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An Evening With Sandra Bernhard

The Colony Theater

July 27, 2007

Better Than: A drag show

Sandra Bernhard can channel Mick Jagger better than any chick rocker. Last night, in her show at the Colony Theater, the 5-foot, 10-inch comedian showed off her legs while strutting her stuff on a fierce pair of Minolo Blahnik shoes.

"An Evening With Sandra Bernhard" a crafty mix of music and comedy, was all delivered in her signature "if you don't like it screw you" kind of way. What else would you expect?

During the first show of her four-performance stint Friday and Saturday, the acerbic comedian came out fighting. The opening number, with Bernhard walking in to the theater from the right of the auditorium bathed in a white spotlight was supposed to quake the rafters of the Colony, but the angry anthem from "Dreamgirls" – "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going" – lost its steam when the wireless mic kept cutting in and out giving the song an annoying rat-a-tat. She dismissed it until she climbed up the stairs and in to the audience to deliver her opening speech and had no mic at all.

The technical troubles plagued her until her tech team told her the problem was due to limited range at which point Bernhard decided to play the whole show from a 2X4 spot at center stage. No matter, it didn't stunt her style except to offer plenty of fodder for "out of range" to become the evening's running joke.

On with the show. Bernhard's delivery is the “pal next door” – the one who takes over the party telling story after story. She's an incessant name dropper – Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks lives in the same Manhattan apartment building and was having a fit one day when her kids were watching Veggie Tales because it's "nothin' but Bible stories." Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, a staunch vegan, once stopped at the apartment for Thanksgiving dinner – no turkey of course – chowing down a bunch of pies that were loaded with eggs and milk and not vegan at all.

Her encounters on airplanes also feature an array of recognizable names including a particular run in with the Rev. Al Sharpton, whom she called exploitative then tacked on a middle finger raised high to Al. Cheryl Tiegs, wrapped up in a fur coat, told Bernhard "life ain't what it used to be" while on an America West flight from Arizona.

Another story was an ode to Britney, Paris, Lindsay and Nicole. The tall tale follows Bernhard as she takes the Brat Pack under her maternal wing. "I bought them construction paper, glue and markers." She piled them into her '91 Gold Acura Legend and drove them through the streets of L.A. She lectured Britney on the joys of motherhood and settling down after removing Tropical Bubble Yum from Britney's mouth. She even said she kissed her.

And then, as was the set up of the evening, Bernhard delivered a fortune cookie: "The bottom line is, you never know what is going to inspire you" and then she launched into a ballad, "My Pride Is Gone."

Sandy Bernhard, as she referred to herself frequently throughout the night, has mellowed a bit. She talks about her 9-year-old daughter, Cicely, who is away at summer camp and she misses her. She talks about her girlfriend, Sarah. Her New York apartment, her L.A. house. She talks about juggling career, relationship and motherhood. For just a minute you think to yourself, “Sandy Bernhard, she's really the woman next door.”

Then she disappears from the stage for just a minute, reappearing in a short, short dress fashioned to look like a cop's outfit with a police hat, but looking like something that you'd buy at Pleasure Emporium while still wearing the Manolo stilettos.

You realize Sandra Bernhard will never be the woman next door, and thank freakin' God for that! -- Michelle F. Solomon

Critic's Notebook:

By the way: Bernhard's gig just before the Colony was performing on Rosie O'Donnell's gay cruise "R Family Vacations" in Key West.

Random Detail: Gay men in the audience outnumbered anyone else 10 to 1.

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