My Comedy Hero by Loretta Maine
This article is from 2014
Edinburgh Festival Fringe comedian on why Sandra Bernhard's irreverent but intelligent comedy inspires her
Comedian Loretta Maine tells comedy editor Brian Donaldson why actress and 1970s comic icon Sandra Bernhard is one of her inspirations
I first saw Sandra Bernhard when I was a kid watching Roseanne. I liked Roseanne because it made my family life look like The Waltons (only with less dungarees). I particularly admired the way Sandra spoke loud and was not a sexy character. I mean she IS sexy, but that wasn't her only part on the show and that was exciting for me because so many female roles on television were bland or just ‘oooh look at my tits in this dress giggle giggle’, barf.
Also she made history by being the first openly lesbian character on American TV which was very exciting because I'd never heard that be discussed on screen before. Ellen was pretending to, like that guy from Mr Selfridge, and Jodie Foster was still being talked about for her talent and ability as a phenomenal actress rather than her sex life. Thank God they got over that.
As I was growing up in my grandmother's trailer, a confused singer-songwriter who wanted to be loved but could only communicate through violence, it was Sandra who showed me that humour and shouting go together really well. Her irreverence and yet pointed, intelligent stand-up showed me that, as a singer, I could make points without being one of those singers that makes points. Know what I mean? The difference between a self-righteous ‘STOP THE WAR!’ and a song that somehow conveys the tragedy of death through rhyming ‘GENOCIDE’ with ‘MOTHER’S PRIDE’.
Sandra cut a chink in a wall and let some angry light shine into my angry heart, to lighten it up. Thank you, Sandra. I hope we can stand up and shout together some day.
Loretta Maine, Assembly George Square Gardens, Edinburgh, until 24 Aug; The Stand, Edinburgh, Thu 18--Sat 20 Sep; Pippa Evans, Bannermans, Edinburgh, until 24 Aug.