Sandra Bernhard brings her one-woman show to The Wheeler for Aspen Gay Ski Week
A pioneer of the one-woman show, performer, actress, singer, and author Sandra Bernhard will headline The Wheeler Opera House on Thursday, Jan. 19, in support of Aspen Gay Ski Week and AspenOUT for the first time.
She’s known for her raucous mix of cabaret, stand-up, rock ‘n’ roll, and social commentary that are hallmarks of her live stage performances.
“It’s an hour and a half of full-on connection with the audience with storytelling and music and funny asides and kind of an overview of, you know, where we’ve been in the past couple of years,” said Bernhard. “It covers all the different topics that I find compelling, like hot off the presses. Because, as we know, every day there’s something else, and you just shake your head and go, ‘This is insane.’”
She has had a long and prolific career that started in the 1970s, when she gained attention as a stand-up comedian who often appeared at The Comedy Store in West Hollywood, which led to being cast in The Richard Pryor Show in 1977.
In the 1980s, her big break came when she was cast by Martin Scorsese to star as stalker/kidnapper Masha in The King of Comedy for which she won the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress. Soon after, in 1988, she launched her off-Broadway one woman show, Without You, I’m Nothing, With You, I’m Not Much Better.
She has gained notoriety for her many film and television roles, including her role as Nancy Bartlett, one of the first lesbian recurring characters on an American sitcom (She eventually came out as bisexual), in the hit show Roseanne in the 1990s.
More recently, Bernhard appeared as a series regular in season three of the FX/Ryan Murphy-produced show Pose on FX and is currently co-starring on season 11 of the popular series American Horror Story’s latest installation, American Horror Story NYC.
Despite all her success on the big and little screens, she still loves the direct connection she forms with her audience during live shows, she said.
“Above all, I want my audience to have that deep emotional connection that you have with a performer that you relate to and come to for ideas and thoughts and the kind of insight that a good performer has,” she said. “I’d like people to walk away with how I process the world and how I try to do it on behalf of everybody because that’s what we do as performers.”
Bernhard identifies as bisexual, has raised a daughter with her partner of 20 years, Sara Switzer, and has long been an advocate and supporter of LGBTQ+ rights. So, when AspenOUT approached her to perform for Gay Ski Week, it was a no-brainer.
“We’re all fragile people, you know. There’s elements to all of us that we need support and love, especially when you’ve been marginalized throughout your life. I don’t speak for myself; I haven’t felt marginalized, so I have even more empathy to those who do,” she said. “I like to think I’m one of those people who defends and protects. My women friends, my gay friends, my black friends, whatever situation that people are in, I like to think I’ve got the chops to step up for people, and that’s really something I like doing.”
What: An Evening of Music and Comedy with Sandra Bernhard
Where: The Wheeler Opera House, Aspen
When: Thursday, Jan. 19, 8:30 p.m.
More info and tickets: gayskiweek.com/event/comedy-show-thursday/