As part of Canadian Music Week (March 19 to 24), the saucy Sandra Bernhard performs her one-woman show I Love Being Me, Don’t You? at the Winter Garden Theatre. From the road in Arizona, she spoke to The Globe and Mail about social media, shifting approaches and drug-free craziness.
I’ve read a few reviews over the years of your performances, including a rave review in The New York Times last year. You’re like the Sally Field of one-woman shows. It’s like, the critics like you – they really like you.Now more than ever, the fact that somebody has longevity doing live performances is very exciting for a critic. I’m someone who has been consistent at being creative, risk-taking, interesting and entertaining. People appreciate that. So, why wouldn’t they support people who continue to do that?
Do you think the appreciation is because of your originality?
Yes, and again, now more than ever, when everything is so derivative – and not very successfully so. You draw on a lot of different influences and hopefully distill it down into something that’s honest and authentic for you and your voice. That’s what I’ve been doing for all these years. That’s what keeps people intrigued.
Speaking of all these years, there was a mistake in the Times piece, in which you were reported as being 57 years old.
No, I am. And rapidly approaching 58. I’m fortunate I get to take care of myself in a way that a lot of people don’t have the time or resources for. I’m a health advocate. I eat right, I don’t smoke and I’ve never been a drinker.
How about drugs?
No, I’ve tapped into my craziness on a natural level. So, I’ve been able to maintain my inner and outer beauty [laughs].
Have you mellowed?
You get beat up along the way. You get to the point where you don’t want to fight every battle like you did when you were 20 or 30 or 40. But I certainly have things that I rail at, and I have not lost any of my concern or spark about any of it. But everybody’s a critic now, with social media. Everybody’s got something to say. So, I’ve shifted my approach a little bit. I like to think I’ve risen above the fray now, and I’m approaching things in a more sophisticated way.
You’ve talked about your act, including your current show I Love Being Me, Don’t You?, as falling under the umbrella of “old-school entertainment.” Is that style dying out?
People are on television screaming at each other, and that seems to be people’s entertainment. On YouTube you can watch kittens falling out of windows. And with social media, we move so fast and yet we learn nothing and absorb nothing. The whole world is [a freak] show. Thank God people come out to see me on stage.
Sandra Bernhard performs at the Winter Garden Theatre, 189 Yonge St., March 22, 9 p.m. $44.50 to $54.50, ticketmaster.ca. For full information on Canadian Music Week (including Film Fest, the Canadian International Comedyfest and Canadian Musicfest): CMW.net.