Bridget Everett delivers hilarious, absurd patter while sipping chardonnay.
Bridget Everett is the star of her show, and even she has trouble describing the bawdy, joyous spectacle people will see when she brings it to Bumbershoot next weekend.
“I guess you can say cabaret and comedy,” Everett said. “I like to say it’s a wild ride with” — here she used a mammarian slang term — “and heart.”
Everett’s performances (she does a monthly show at Joe’s Pub in New York City) are as physical for the audience as they are for her. She sings campy covers or one of her ribald originals. She delivers hilarious, absurd patter while sipping chardonnay from a brown bag (that is really an insulated wine bag).
Bridget Everett at Bumbershoot
For schedule and ticket prices, visit bumbershoot.com.
And she shakes and shimmies her 6-foot frame, letting her flouncy frocks slip and slide off her ample chest. Then she makes her way into the audience and captures a male audience member’s face between her “beaver tail” breasts — also known as “motorboating.”
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“I want people to feel free and that they’re at last call at a great party and they’re talking to someone they never thought they would be talking to,” Everett said.
She was on the phone from New York’s Upper West Side, where she was walking her dog — a 6-year-old Pomeranian named Poppy Louise Mandrell.
“She’s a former sex worker, was having babies against her will,” Everett said of her adopted pup. “It’s nice to have something soft to touch.”
Everett, 42, was raised in Kansas, and always dreamed of singing. She trained to be an opera singer but couldn’t master the languages and the diction — and wasn’t allowed to smoke or drink or stay out late.
“The style of singing I do now is the best to accommodate my lifestyle,” she cracked.
She moved to New York to be a singer, and did children’s theater “for a hot second” to get her (Actors’) Equity Card. (“It was miserable.”)
She wanted to be like Freddie Mercury or maybe perform in musicals. But she couldn’t get anything started beyond singing karaoke — especially Alanis Morrisette’s “You Oughta Know.”
“That song is a great way to connect with the audience,” she said. I’ll bet.
Years ago, a friend took her to the Lower East Side’s Parkside Lounge for something called “Cheez Whiz,” where she saw all kinds of acts, but mostly drag queens like Murray Hill and Kiki & Herb.
“And I thought, ‘Oh, you can be this kind of performer.’ It blew my mind wide open.”
Over the next five years (and with the help of a grant from the Public Theatre, which paired her with “Hairspray” writers Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman), Everett developed the act that would become “Rock Bottom.” It plays every month at Joe’s Pub. She is backed by a band called The Tender Moments, which includes former Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz on bass.
“A lot of it came from chardonnay and audiences in New York who were insatiable,” she said.
The management at Joe’s Pub let her do whatever she wanted — even stand on the piano, until they got a new piano and asked her to stop.
“They didn’t want me to break it,” she said. “And now I stand on people instead. You have to become resourceful.”
She has performed at Carnegie Hall with Patti LuPone, on Comedy Central’s “Inside Amy Schumer,” and had her own special, “Gynecological Wonder,” on Comedy Central in July. She’s working on a Netflix series, “Lady Dynamite” with comedian Maria Bamford.
Everett hadn’t seen her mother in three years when she came from Kansas to see her perform — and then got up on stage to accompany her daughter for “Hello Dolly.”
“She always wanted sing on Broadway, so it was my favorite stage memory, for sure,” she said. “Watching her was incredible.”
How did her mother feel about watching her daughter’s act? The filthy talk about male anatomy, the exposed breasts, the drinking.
“She said, ‘I’m so proud of you. Watching you was like freedom in motion.’ ”
Everett’s three days of shows at Bumbershoot will be something like her Comedy Central special. Maybe.
“I like to do whatever fires people up,” she said. “I will have a general outline and a set list, but it’s like a dance or a date: You see what works best for who is there.”
Not to drop names, she said, but she was talking to comedian Patton Oswalt, who has played Seattle numerous times, and loves it.
“He’s like, ‘Oh, my God, you’re doing Bumbershoot? The audiences there make you feel like a king!’ ” Everett said. “’And then you leave and you don’t feel like a king anymore.’ ”
No matter. Singing live is Everett’s dream.
“And when you’re my age and you go from zero to 100, I like to perform 120 percent,” she said, then paused.
“I hope my heart doesn’t explode on the last note. But what a way to go.”