An uneven evening with Sandra Bernhard
A review of Sandra Bernhard's uneven new show, which she performed at the Triple Door in Seattle on June 21. Performances continue June 22 and 23.
Seattle Times arts critic
Sandra Bernhard7:30 and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Triple Door, 216 Union St., Seattle; $40-$60 (206-838-4333 or www.thetripledoor.com)
To open her bumpy new one-woman act, "I Love Being Me, Don't You?" singer-comic-actor Sandra Bernhard strides out in a sparkly black cocktail dress (with big pockets, not merely "mockets," she informs you), and launches into a dripping-with-irony version of Neil Sedaka's "Laughter in the Rain."
Ms. Bernhard sure has a delicious way with campy soft rock, both in that boppy number (backed by her three-man band) as well as in her nearly endless version of Lady Gaga's nearly endless ballad "The Edge of Glory." ("I'm on the edge, the edge, the edge, the edge, the edge ... ")
Both were highlights of Bernhard's Thursday night show at the Triple Door, where she holds forth through Saturday.
When Bernhard is on point, there's no snazzier pop-culture absurdist-slash-satirist. With hatpin-sharp mockery, she punctures the narcissism of Cindy Crawford's infomercials, Bristol Palin's aspirations, Tyra Banks' "America's Next Top Model" hosting and her own name-dropping. (A seder that included Jon Bon Jovi and family, she noted, "was the most glamorous Passover ever.")
She also shreds the mystique of yuppie emporiums Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. And don't get her started on "Glee," which she sneeringly describes as a TV series about "the inappropriate behavior of 16-year-old high-school students played by 35-year-old actors."
But when her material is subpar in this loosey-goosey set — which is clearly a work in progress with frequent consultations of her notes — Bernhard lashes out if you don't gobble it up.
When rambling bits about her mothering style and her homelessness fantasy fizzled, she blamed and taunted the Seattle audience for only responding with a light "mist of laughter," and groused, "You guys need some vitamin B, or some kind of radiant light therapy."
Hey, it ain't the audience's fault if "I Love Being Me, Don't You?" isn't as supple and laugh-studded as anticipated.
Of course, there's no one quite like the Divine Miss B — whether she's recalling her days picking cotton on an Israeli kibbutz (the mind boggles) or communing with her inner Carol Channing by launching into a rather shrill, but certainly robust, version of "Until the Parade Passes By."
It's just that in 90 minutes, you want more of her best.
Misha Berson: firstname.lastname@example.org