Sandra Bernhard is an original, much like her doppelganger the late French actress Sarah Bernhardt, and her newest comedy CD –of sorts, it is that and much more– Everything Bad & Beautiful is just as original as this great lady of the stage.

Bernhard is a multi-talented, erudite, take no prisoners and fools gladly singer, writer, poet, and anything else she needs to be to make a Sarah Bernhard show or recording a precise but sometimes seemingly off the cuff artistic performance that never, ever dumbs down for the audience.

I am not always partial to Bernhard. I really like Without You I’m Nothing but am less than impressed with I’m Still Here … Damn It! (aka the pregnant in a negligee show).

Everything Bad & Beautiful is a stand-up comedy performance CD that makes me want to reconsider past releases I did not really enjoy and think about getting and listening to what, in her vast catalogue, I am not familiar with.

What I admire in Everything Bad & Beautiful is how effortlessly Sarah Bernhard can do a pas de deux from caustic, dark comments to sweet, innocent observations on the same topic. This is especially true and evident in Motherhood / The Flame / Thanksgiving where she rips apart Anne Geddes and Celine Dion and then talks about her own experience as a mother in a piece that is innocent, heartfelt, realistic, and angst ridden.

I doubt there is another artist or comic that can do this kind of material and Bernhard makes all the transitions sound totally natural with a kind of self-awareness we all wish we had more often. It is a very human piece that you want to listen to a few times to get every nuance she has put into it.

I am much less partial to material like Sara and Out Of Tears which sounds more like a witty monologue to a shrink over a double mocha frappe cappuccino than comedy or show material.

The track Mariah Carey & Britney Spears simply reminded me that Carey and Spears are the new Michael Jackson and airplane jokes. I also wonder about the interest of the Bob Dylan track

The political material, such as Kerry Laura Bush Lynn Cheney and Condoleeza Rice & Rosa Parks is superb although I wish the Rice & Parks had been expanded. The short bits Hugh Hefner and I Hate Golf / Mock The Poor are also fun.

Sandra Bernhard Everything Bad & Beautiful is not a stand-up comedy CD you put on for a few laughs. Everything Bad & Beautiful is, without wanting to seem pompous or artsy-fartsy, often an aural experience that brings to mind the very best old-style Broadway chanteuse who has a Sybil like ability to transform into a punk, a bitch, and little girl.

Sandra Bernhard
Everything Bad & Beautiful
Stand-up comedy CD
Breaking Records 2006
76 minutes

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