Sandra Bernhard: Everything Bad & Beautiful

For those times when you’re in the mood to listen to a smart and talented woman bitch about the world, this CD contains plenty of Bernhard's beautiful badness to scratch that itch.

Sandra Bernhard

Everything Bad & Beautiful

Label: Breaking Records
US Release Date: 2007-06-05
UK Release Date: Available as import

Sandra Bernhard is the ultimate gonzo comedienne. She has keen observational skills, yet she’s not the sort to look without also touching. Instead of merely pointing rudely, she relentlessly jabs her targets, like a boxer. Furthermore, she’s no outsider. Rather, Bernhard is a near-A list celebrity who once even counted Madonna as a friend. In a sense, when she's nipping at Hollywood’s elite she’s also biting the hand that feeds her. Bernhard namedrops oodles of celebrities during this program, and is unafraid to say exactly what she thinks about People magazine’s best and brightest. She is also abrasive, God bless her, and we love it. Everything Bad & Beautiful is a semi-autobiographical journey through Bernhard’s eventful life, which is told while she dishes the dirt.

Bernhard begins by giving a little of her personal history, which took her from Flint, MI to Scottsdale, AZ, and eventually to Los Angeles, CA. She was still a teenager when she entered the high-end fashion world of El Lay. “I arrived on Cinco De Mayo and the party hasn’t stopped,” says Bernhard, when recalling that fateful day her dad drove her to Los Angeles. She even sings a few bars of Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets”, just to give aural to this visual. “I began my career at the Charles Ross School of Beauty,” she continues. Later, she worked in Beverly Hills where she saw everyone from Jacquelyn Smith and Diane Cannon, to Victoria Principal, whom she describes as “the cat’s ass.” She eventually also started doing stand-up at The Comedy Store, “the 1:00 am slot,” as she recalls it. “You better believe I’m glad to be here tonight,” is how she concludes this autobiographical sketch.

This CD is the audio recording of Bernhard’s one woman (plus band) theatrical performance of Everything Bad & Beautiful, her off-Broadway show from 2006. It was captured on the nights of May 24th and 25th 2006 at the Daryl Roth Theatre in New York City. Her occasional backing band is called, not surprisingly, The Rebellious Jezebels. Such a name makes sense because Bernhard is a rebel -- albeit with a cause -- here to make you laugh out of shock and embarrassment.

If you’re a girl and a Republican, you may not have all that much in common with Bernhard. She criticizes Condoleezza Rice, for instance, for this Secretary Of State’s seeming non-blackness. Elsewhere, Laura Bush is lambasted for preaching abstinence to native Africans. Celine Dion is also a girl, but this Canadian-born singer is by no means any Republican. Instead Bernard gets her good by mocking how she talks about the joys of motherhood from a glitzy Las Vegas stage -- not the right spokesperson and certainly not the right place to give a family testimony.

Bernhard is a fine singer, as well as being a comic, and she takes the time to sing a few songs. She opens with an acoustic guitar-accompanied version of the Linda Perry composition (and Christina Aguilera hit) "Beautiful", and then sings Cheap Trick’s "The Flame", and later Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone". There is also a hard rocking version of Lita Ford’s metallic "Kiss Me Deadly" along the way. Many of these songs are sung for comedic effect. But “Like a Rolling Stone” follows the story of when Bob Dylan called Bernhard, seemingly out of the blue. “Beautiful”, which opens this show, is one of the only serious moments in the whole program. She sings: “I am beautiful no matter what they say / the words can’t bring me down.”

Bernhard may not be everybody’s definition of a beautiful woman. For example, she’s been mercilessly ribbed over the years about her extra large lips. But Bernhard’s unique beauty is her no-holds-barred honesty. Much like Kathy Griffin, Bernhard speaks the truths that few others have the guts to tell. But as good as the best moments of this CD are, it cannot replicate the experience of seeing the woman live and in person. Comedy is just as much visual as verbal, after all, and the listener badly misses seeing Bernhard’s vitriolic delivery. Yet for those times when you’re in the mood to listen to a smart and talented woman bitch about the world, Everything Bad & Beautiful contains plenty of Bernhard's beautiful badness to scratch that itch.


To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.