The Frame

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Sandra Bernhard crosses uncomfortable borders on stage and on 'Sandyland'

by John Horn and Elyssa Dudley | The Frame

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Sandra Bernhard hosts the Family Equality Council's Los Angeles Awards dinner at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on Feb. 28, 2015 in Beverly Hills. Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Family Equality Council

Sandra Bernhard is best known for her five-season stint on "Roseanne" as Nancy Bartlett, but her heart is in live performance. Her cabaret-style stage shows are a blend of comedy, music and pop culture commentary. They draw crowds of devoted fans, but Bernhard told KPCC that a recent foray into satellite radio has expanded her reach.

All kinds of people have started to listen to me, surprising people. People have called in from South Carolina, from Arkansas — you know, around the country, and that always takes me by surprise. 

Bernhard's SiriusXM show "Sandyland" is a live show on Andy Cohen's channel Radio Andy. She takes calls from listeners, interviews guests like Debbie Harry and Lena Dunham and delivers plenty of on-air commentary in her signature style.

Sandra Bernhard interviews Chris Stein and Debbie Harry of Blondie during "Sandyland," her SiriusXM show on Andy Cohen's Radio Andy Channel from the New York City Subway M train.
Sandra Bernhard interviews Chris Stein and Debbie Harry of Blondie during "Sandyland," her SiriusXM show on Andy Cohen's Radio Andy Channel from the New York City Subway M train. Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM

The Frame's John Horn spoke with Bernhard about hosting live radio, as well as her new stage show "Sandra Monica Blvd: Coast to Coast," which is set to debut in Los Angeles at The Wallis Annenberg Center for The Performing Arts on Dec. 8-10.


On her diverse radio audience:

They're not always necessarily a hundred percent on my super, uber-liberal wavelength. And yet, they're people who want the best for themselves, for the world, for their families. And I think that the great thing about being a performer, being an entertainer, is being inquisitive... I think there are certain people who have the ability to kind of reach across unexpected lines and get to know people.

On playing a bisexual woman on "Roseanne":

It was never done with some big heavy political point of view. It was just done because it was fun and nobody had ever done it before. She was a kooky character and she kind of fit in with all of the characters on "Roseanne." I think it just established me as [a] fun, television personality actress person. I think the impact of playing that role came later. I mean, nobody was patting themselves on the back thinking they were breaking any ground. They just thought, Oh, this is a really fun way of approaching a character.

Roseanne clip

Why you should see her one-woman show:

They'll never see anybody like me. I mean there's so few people that combine and synthesize comedy, and music, and rock and roll. It's a big mixed bag of fun and crazy. I try to get people to look at themselves, and I look at myself, and we all are the better for it.

Sandra Bernhard's newest show, "Sandra Monica Blvd: Coast to Coast," is at the Wallis in Beverly Hills Dec. 8-10. To get more stories and interviews like this subscribe to The Frame podcast on iTunes.

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