Aha Moment: Sandra Bernhard


Friday, October 28, 2011

“Larger-than-life” doesn’t do justice to performer Sandra Bernhard. She can be cartoonishly tough and irreverent, but also intensely sincere. Her breakout role came in Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy (1983), in which she plays an obsessed fan who helps kidnap the talk show host played by Jerry Lewis.

Turns out Bernhard has her own (healthy) obsession with a famous performer. When she saw a touring production of Hello, Dolly!, starring Carol Channing, “right from the get-go, I assumed I should be a part of the cast. ‘Why am I not on stage here, playing at least one of the supporting roles?’” For one reason, because Bernhard was only eight at the time. But sitting there in the audience, “I felt I was home and where I belonged with these bigger-than-life characters.” Bernhard set out to have a career that would make her idol proud.

Is there a work of art that’s changed the way you see the world? Tell us in a comment below — or by email.



Video: Carol Channing in Hello, Dolly! (1979)

    Music Playlist
  1. Overture
    Artist: Original Broadway Cast Recording
    Album: Hello, Dolly!
    Label: RCA Victor Broadway
    Purchase: Amazon
  2. Hello, Dolly!
    Artist: Original Broadway Cast Recording
    Album: Hello, Dolly!
    Label: RCA Victor Broadway
    Purchase: Amazon


Michael Raphael

Comments [4]

Michael Armstrong from Homer, Alaska

At age 12 in 1968 I saw Stanley Kubricjk's 2001: A Space Odyssey. My buddies Chris Miller and George Dame and I took the bus downtown to the Palace Theatre in Tampa, Fla. You could buy reserved seats, and they had ushers with white gloves.
I'd read about the movie in Life and thought it would be a well-made science fiction film. It was and is, but right from the start with the chimps and the black monolith, I knew 2001 would be different.
I mostly understood the film up to the cosmic trip sequence where Dave goes ... Well, where does he go? The whole ending totally confused me. Who was that old man Dave saw? What was up with the big floating baby? What the heck went on?
For the first time in my life, art wasn't obvious. I came away bewildered. I thought about 2001 for months. I read the novel. OK, that made more sense. I read "The Making of 2001." I understood more.
I kept watching and watching that film, analyzing and thinking about it. 2001 set me on a path to become a science fiction writer (I am one, by the way). It made me understand that art could have many layers, many meanings, and that artists could do things for fun that didn't even have to mean anything at all. Did you know the first spoken words by a computer were from the song "Daisy?" Stuff like that.
I have seen many more films more than once, but 2001 is the film I keep watching and watching, and it's the first film I downloaded on my iPad.

Nov. 04 2011 12:01 AM

It was a book that changed me. I was in 5th grade, rather awkward and gawky, but had aspirations of beauty and grace. Found a girls' novel, "Behold Your Queen!" by a lady named Gladys Malvern that helped me pay attention to who I was, how I stood, how I spoke, how I related to others. It was a fictional but historically authentic story about Queen Esther in the Old Testament. I'm re-reading it again...today...still good! And I'm well past being in 5th grade (I'm 68).

Oct. 31 2011 01:19 PM
Ed Vogel from Minneapolis

"Three Penny Opera" changed my life. I discovered I could sing, learned to play the piano and moved all over the country in pursuit of a musical ideal that I still haven't captured. Enjoying the trip though.

Oct. 30 2011 10:53 PM
Stourley Kracklite from Shanghai

You and I should meet:


Oct. 30 2011 11:55 AM

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