Audiences of the 2010 documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work tend to be most impressed by Rivers’ willingness to reveal her softer side, to somehow conjure a few tears in a face seemingly devoid of natural function. One gets the sense that disparaging comedians of Rivers’ ilk—Kathy Griffin, Rivers’ younger carbon copy; Lisa Lampanelli, hackneyed shockstress—secretly cry themselves to sleep at night. Twenty-five years ago, the same might have been said about multi-faceted comedian Sandra Bernhard, formerly known for, as New York Times critic Stephen Holden recalled in a 2012 review, “prowling the stage with a flashlight…patrons ducking in their seats to avoid being objects of her withering scrutiny.” Unlike the aforementioned Sisters Grimm, Bernhard has consistently evaded comparison to other comedians, save for the legendary Lenny Bruce (“She has [his] brooding menace and quick, razor-sharp mind,” said cultural critic Camille Paglia), partly because her singular comic sensibilities are not easily consumed. “You must hear Bernhard (and see her) to really get it,” a Washington Post critic wrote two decades ago. “It’s all in the way it comes out, that voice, that aggressive-erotic-ironic intensity, that larger-than-life hauteur, that makes her so beloved (and feared) among those who do get it…She doesn’t do jokes.” What she does do has been referred to as a cultural “skewering,” a “prob[ing of] the tyranny of triviality,” an “angst-driven, foulmouthed, poison-laced joy ride that banks frenetically through the worlds of fashion, celebrity, rock, and religion.” Whew. Since the birth of her daughter in 1998, some critics have been eager to pigeonhole Bernhard as a softer maternal version of her former self, failing to appreciate the evolving perspective of an artist and remarkably human 58-year-old woman; if anything, Bernhard has developed into a shrewder performer and wordsmith. As Stephen Holden notes, “to describe [her] as a mellower version of the comic sniper she used to be is not to say that she has lost her edge…Instead of fear she elicit[s] waves of affectionate laughter.” Bernhard transcends the typical comedian’s trappings—she is a bona fide actor (numerous high-profile television appearances including a five year stint on Roseanne), writer (three published books, pieces in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and Interview), and singer (three full-length albums).