Don’t be surprised if you’re walking through Pike Place Market this weekend and pass a tall, redheaded woman with a familiar, arresting face determined to find a nice piece of salmon.
It’s just Sandra Bernhard, in town for a Nov. 2 performance of her comedy/cabaret act “Quick Sand” at the Stroum Jewish Community Center on Mercer Island. But she will also visit with her brother, who has lived in this area for years.
“One thing I always like to do is walk in the Market,” Bernhard said from her home in Manhattan. “Be down by the water, look at the geoducks. I always like to take a look at those.”
Bernhard, 64, has never left the public eye since making her mark as a stand-up comic in the 1970s. She won big notices for her role in the 1983 film “The King of Comedy” and was a regular player on “Roseanne,” all the while popping up in New York or Los Angeles, performing a cabaret act that was a mix of comedy and song.
“I feel like there is a continuum,” she said. “When you come out of the gate hip and your work is informed with things that are informed and timely, you’re always a groovy person.”
Bernhard now lives in New York with her longtime partner, Sara Switzer, and her daughter, Cicely Yasin Bernhard, now 21 and a college senior majoring in film and interested in production design. (“She wants to do something creative.”)
Since 2015, Bernhard has hosted “Sandyland,” a talk show that is part of the Radio Andy channel on Sirius XM radio.
“I host some people who are just friends, creative people I have known for years,” she said. “My only criteria is that someone has a work in progress and wants to talk about that. The approach is being creative and fun.”
She’s only doing the show once a week, now that she has joined the cast of “POSE,” a show on the FX network that focuses on the underground ball culture of 1980s New York, and the nascent days of the AIDS crisis. Bernhard plays Nurse Judy Kubrak, who tends to HIV and AIDS patients, is part of the ACT UP movement and becomes a more personal friend to the featured characters.
“It has been a great experience,” she said, adding that the job came out of a chance meeting at John F. Kennedy Airport with actress Judith Light, who was traveling with “POSE” co-creator Steven Canals and writer Our Lady J.
“We started talking, and I said, ‘If any characters come up, I would love to be on the show,’ ” Bernhard said. “They went back and mentioned it to (co-creator) Ryan Murphy, who said, ‘Done.’ “
The SJCC audience will be getting more than they bargained for, as Bernhard will be performing songs and bits she’s never done here.
“Because I haven’t been to Seattle in a long time, I’ve got years of material that nobody’s ever seen outside of New York and L.A.,” she said. “My material in general is evergreen. The pieces could have been written yesterday or 10 years ago. But I always throw in timely stuff.”
She tries not to make it all about politics, specifically President Donald Trump, but “things that are quotidian to day-to-day life,” she said.
“If things happen, conversations between Sara and me, or friends. That’s how I end up writing and then a song will come to mind. Something that has a fun, you know, sort of non-sequiturial connection.
“It’s a lot, from stem to stern, to have a successful evening,” she said. “It’s a lot of moving parts.”
In Seattle, she will be joined by her L.A.-based band.
“They’re like family, too,” she said. “So we’ll grill some salmon, no matter what the weather. Just bang around.”
Sandra Bernhard: “Quick Sand,” 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2; Stroum Jewish Community Center, 3801 E. Mercer Way, Mercer Island; $70 (includes happy hour starting at 7 p.m.); 206-232-7115, sjcc.org