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Bernhard’s powerful show is no joke

Comedienne’s set at Ronnie Scott’s features a mash-up of pop and musical hits, Hollywood gossip, and her take on Trump

01 March, 2018 — By Róisín Gadelrab

Sandra Bernhard

IT didn’t matter that Sandra Bernhard’s jokes were unadapted for her crowd, it didn’t matter that her set appeared to be a deconstructed meander through her mind – observations, memories, scraps of paper, newspaper adverts – or that her vocals were raw and unpolished, it all added jeopardy to the sharpness of the comedienne’s set at Ronnie Scott’s on Friday night.

The closing medley in Sandra’s memorable show was an apt indicator of the entire set… if only it came first. A mad mashup of Whitney Houston’s My Love Is Your Love, A-Ha’s Take on Me, Let It Go from Disney smash-hit Frozen and some other incongruous hits was the perfect illustration of the random nature of her mind.

Bernhard would probably accept that she’s not the strongest of singers but that was not important in the circumstances.

Her vocals carried a strength that carried the crowd and, in some cases, mesmerised, as with her combination of Jesus Christ Superstar’s Try Not to Get Worried and Jimi Henxrix’s Manic Depression – an affronting rendition with some hints of sweetness.

The song count was low as Sandy B – as she likes to sign off – launched into showbiz stories, often involving her being snubbed by Hollywood royalty, “insider stuff” she stage whispers and random observations, some of which include such US-centric elements of daily life that did not necessarily translate across the water.

But it was this “don’t care enough to adapt to her audience” attitude that gave Sandy that extra bite, and carried her audience with her.

Although she has previously professed to avoid current events, Bernhard couldn’t help but betray her views on Trump and gun control, as well as throwing Joan Collins and Liz Hurley under the bus – “they both voted for Brexit you know”.

At times hilarious, at others self-deprecating, scathing and endearing, this was a show to be remembered.

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