Sandra Bernhard, Second City bring edgy acts to the Playhouse

By Diana Saenger

For years, performer Sandra Bernhard has marched to her own drumbeat. A comedian, actress, screenwriter, author, singer and producer of her one-woman shows, Bernhard has entertained, shocked, amused, and angered audiences across the country. La Jolla Playhouse patrons will get to experience Bernhard’s muse when she brings her new show, “I Love Being Me, Don’t You?” to town, March 14-17.

The Playhouse design teams are going all out for Bernhard’s energetic cabaret concert that features comedy, monologues and her usual riff. A unique performance space is being created in the Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre to resemble a 1920s supper club with multi-level platforms, banquettes, and beverages and refreshments for purchase.

Bernhard started her performance career at The Comedy Store in the 1970s. Her shows include: “Without You I’m Nothing,” (also a feature film that she wrote), “Excuses for Bad Behavior,” “Giving ‘Til It Hurts,” “Hero Worship,” “The Love Machine” and “Everything Bad and Beautiful.”

She has amassed a huge following for her work, and said she always had an unusual take on how she wanted to perform.

“I’ve been an outspoken person throughout my life, and it kind of dovetailed into my performing style and what I have to say. It was never premeditated,” Bernhard said, “It just kind of came together through years and years of getting up and doing it and finding out who I was as a person and my voice as a performer.”

Bernhard said she gets ideas for her one-woman shows every day of her life from travels, what’s happening politically and with pop culture, and from her friends, family, girlfriend and TV.

What can patrons expect from “I Love Being Me, Don’t You?”

“The entire show is crafted of one-liners, monologues, music with some original songs and some covers,” Bernhard said. “It’s all blended seamlessly together, and the stories just go in an out of the music. I never pin it down; the show is always in flux. Even though a show may keep the same title for several performances, it kind of morphs from one thing to the next.”

Putting one’s all into an edgy performance like Bernhard’s requires total commitment. Her shows are full of emotional arcs — joy, anger, sarcasm, and controversy — yet her energy level always seems charged. “By nature I’m an energetic person,” she said. “I live a full life but take really good care of myself. I’m constantly engaged in living. I love my life and everything around. When I’m on stage I demand the same for myself as anybody who came there – which is total commitment.”

Bernhard said the demographics for her audience are cut from a wide path. “It’s everyone from college-aged kids to straight, gay, and many nationalities,” she said. “Basically it’s people who relate to everything from my honesty to my outrageousness.”

Gliding into the Potiker Theatre after “I Love Being Me, Don’t You?” are Chicago’s famed Second City performers with their “Laugh Out Loud Tour.”

This troupe celebrates more than 50 years of cutting-edge satiric revues and will deliver its comedic and improvisational gems March 21-24.

If you go

Sandra Bernhard, 
‘I Love Being Me, Don’t You?’
When: 8 p.m. March 14-16; 7 and 9:30 p.m. March 17
Where: La Jolla Playhouse Potiker Theatre, 2910 La Jolla Village Drive

Second City’s 
‘Laugh Out Loud Tour’

When: 8 p.m. March 21-23; 7 and 9:30 p.m. March 24
Where: Playhouse Potiker Theatre

Premium Lounge: $60 Bernhard; 
$45 Second City

Cabaret Tables: 
$50 Bernhard; 
$40 Second City

Balcony Seating: 
$35 Bernhard; 
$30 Second City
Box Office: 
(858) 550-1010