How Bridget Everett Went From Face-Sitting at Joe’s Pub to Face Time With Seinfeld

(photo courtesy of New York Comedy Festival)
(photo courtesy of New York Comedy Festival)

Singer, cabaret artist, and comedian Bridget Everett has had quite a couple of years. The powerhouse performer is certainly memorable: her Chardonnay-soaked live act includes joyous, belted requests to raise one’s “titties” in the air and a catchy, matter-of-fact song that asks the universal inquiry: “What I gotta do to get that dick in my mouth?” There’s also plenty of audience engagement. Typical stuff, like sitting on crowd member’s faces. Brash though she may be, Everett has captivated America and become fast friends with comedian Amy Schumer, which has led to spots on Schumer’s television show, her film Trainwreck, and other screen appearances like a recurring role in Maria Bamford’s Netflix show Lady Dynamite, with more projects in the works for the future.

Though she’s appearing on bigger and bigger screens lately, she made a name for herself through shows at downtown staple Joe’s Pub on Lafayette Street. For the recurring “alt-cabaret” fixture Our Hit Parade, she put unique spins on pop songs alongside fellow out-there performers like Neal Medlyn, Erin Markey, Kenny Mellman, and even Billy Eichner. There were also solo nights with her band The Tender Moments. We sat down with Everett at Caroline’s On Broadway ahead of her show at New York Comedy Festival to talk touring, creating, and of course, fanny packs.

BB_Q(1)Have you had a big tour before?

BB_A(1)

I’ve done a lot of touring; I’ve toured with the Oddball Comedy Fest, I’ve toured with Amy Schumer, I’ve done a couple tours by myself. But the theaters are a little bigger this time, including this hometown show I’m excited about.

Not to be gross and drop a name but I was talking to Jerry Seinfeld, who I recently met. He came to a show; we’re friends. He said that his first big New York solo show was at Town Hall. So I feel like I’m on the road to the right place.

BB_Q(1)You’re doing a lot more film and TV stuff now. In the midst of doing all that, do you find it’s harder to find time to create your own live performance work?

BB_A(1)

Yes, I do. I’m desperate to write a new show. I’m not a prolific writer like Erin Markey, for example, she’s always coming up with new shit, and Neal (a.k.a. Champagne Jerry) can sit down and write songs and songs and songs, and I’m not like that. And I’m excited to do film and TV and stuff like that because it’s a new opportunity to try something cool with great people, but if you’re constantly traveling… I can only focus on one thing at a time. I can focus on getting on the plane, and then getting in the cab, and going to the hotel. And I did have some time off in August, and I have some ideas, but I need some real time to sit down and crunch it out. And you think, well, you can do it [on tour], but really you travel, you go to sound check, you put your hair and makeup on, you dress, and [do the] show, have a couple bottles of wine and go to bed. And there’s no time for music.

BB_Q(1)Do you think it’s ever not going to be considered edgy to be bold when talking about female sexuality?

BB_A(1)

I mean, if you look at the political climate, people are not comfortable with a strong, assertive woman. I think it’s a long road. For me, I’m just singing about the things that make me laugh and make me happy, so I’m going to keep doing it. But at least when I was first going out and [performing] at places in New York, you could see that women in particular were starved for it. And I think there’s a reason that Amy is so popular… I remember my agents were like, We don’t know what to do with you, essentially. And I was like, Trust me. Women—and men—they like it. I’m never going to stop doing it; I hope people don’t get bored of it. I don’t see how they will.

BB_Q(1)I feel like every interview I’ve read with you, people say, ‘She’s so shocking!’ And this is over the course of several years.

BB_A(1)

Still, I do a lot of the same stuff. I like to do the hits. As the audience grows you want to do the things that you know people like and that I love singing. There’s definitely still a sense of shock and awe in the audience but I think a lot more people have seen it and they’re bringing friends back, and it’s less shocking and more just a party. That’s what I want it to be— I don’t want it to be shock. For me it’s like mud wrestling, but with low-cut dresses and money notes.

BB_Q(1)How many flowy red dresses would you say you own?

BB_A(1)

That particular one I wear a lot is called Titty Tops. I have three of those. Then I have two silver ones that are like disco balls. Larry Krone, who makes all my clothes, from the House of Larréon, he likes to accentuate my curves. And you know, it’s helped my performance, actually. It’s nice to have freedom. When I very first started, I was shopping on the 7th floor of Macy’s going to the big girl floor. [I would get] House of Daréon. Tina Knowles, Beyoncé’s mom, she had that line of flashy stuff for big girls. Larry started making me dresses, and he’s House of Larréon. He dresses all body types, but I like to think I’m his star pupil.

BB_Q(1)I do like that fanny pack.

BB_A(1)

Oh my god, I love the fanny pack. He makes them every once in a while, one of a kind ones, but I like to think mine is the best.

BB_Q(1)My fanny pack recently broke, and I’m trying to adapt to life without it. Something interesting I’ve found is when walking down the street it always floats sort of towards the crotch and flops around…

BB_A(1)

I know! I like that, though, it’s like a friendly reminder I’m walking with my vagina wherever I go. We are one and we’re here on the streets of New York City. I wear that everywhere. I was at some fancy party in the Hamptons and I had it on. I’d been wearing it for years. I saw Kelly Ripa, and she was like, “It’s the year of the fanny pack.” And I was like, “Every year’s the year of the fanny pack, honey!”

You know who gave me the original one? Neal and Ada [Calhoun], his wife. And Larry did the design over the top. There’s a lot I owe Neal, and that’s one of the things. Growing up, my mom would always walk around without a bra on, around the house. Always just full-frontal Freddy. So I was always comfortable with my body because of that, but you add on top of that some of the first shows I did in New York. Neal was part of those shows. And he came out one time with just a sweater and no pants on and I was like, oh my God, this is the best thing I’ve ever seen. Like a modern Andy Kaufman. Neal’s a very special, talented performer. And a good friend.

BB_Q(1)I do think it’s cool when these “alt-cabaret” people make their way into the sorta-mainstream comedy scene.

BB_A(1)

It’s an interesting time. Also, I’d consider Taylor Mac alt-cabaret, and he’s totally dominating right now with his 24-hour show. I’m doing a lot of stuff around, and Murray Hill tours with Dita Von Teese. It’s almost like we’re just… normal. But still, if I go to a comedy festival or something I’m aware I’m a little different than the hoodies and the dick jokes, but I’m still happy to be a part of it. I really resisted the urge to be called a comic or comedian, and I still sometimes do, because I think of myself as a singer. But I’m so lucky that I get to be part of the world of comedy, it’s given me a world of opportunities.

Amy’s the one who sort of pushed me to do it. She was like, You should come on the road with me, let’s do this comedy club. I was like, They’re not gonna like me there! And she’s like, Trust me. They will.

BB_Q(1)When touring, has there ever been a city that just didn’t ‘get’ you?

BB_A(1)

I’ve mostly stuck to bigger cities when I’m by myself. When I was on tour with Oddball, we would go [to] some of those places, and I would get a ton of comments on Twitter. I don’t always read those, but there would be 20 that say, Fuck yeah! And there would always be one [that said], What the fuck was that cow doing up there? But for me, it’s exciting. The people who were into it were on their feet and going crazy, and the people who didn’t like it had a really strong reaction. But I want people to feel strongly about it, like it or hate it. Those are the things that excite me.

But when I started in New York, as I’ve been doing this, my peers are people like Erin Markey, Cole Escola, Neal [Medlyn], Murray Hill, and those are people who do things a little differently. They inspire me, and they’ve also informed my work. If not everyone in Tampa or someplace gets it… Although, Tampa’s a great fucking town and I love performing there, and I’m hoping Champagne Jerry comes with me. That’s where my tour wraps up. It was supposed to end in Miami, and Tampa and Miami switched. I was like, Fuck yeah! I’m excited about that place. Get myself some neon, sit on a beach, get a frozen drink, fuckin’ live the dream.

BB_Q(1)And I feel like for every person who either hates it or loves it, there’s someone who’s friend dragged them there and they’re like, Wait a minute…

BB_A(1)

I did a couple shows with Amy last weekend, and she has me go on after her as a surprise guest, and she encourages people to stay. Obviously, there are going to be the people who are like, I’m going to beat the traffic, I don’t give a fuck who it is. But we were in Boston, and I would say 95% of the people stayed. And she’s playing arenas, that’s an incredible opportunity. And me, I always wanted to be a rock star. So it’s like, living the dream.

BB_Q(1)I was just going to say, it seems harder to sit on audience’s faces in arenas than in smaller venues…

BB_A(1)

You’d think so but it feels fucking great. And it’s so much fun. It’s a little different, though, because [when] people are coming to see me, you can kinda tell they want to come up onstage, but when you’re in an arena with people who don’t know you, people are just sort of slack-jawed. I’m making American great again, just not the way Donald Trump had in mind.

Bridget Everett performs at Town Hall on November 3 as part of New York Comedy Festival.

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