Bridget Everett talks Mardi Gras, cabaret in NYC and energy on stage

There is a huge exuberance to Bridget Everett. Her performances at MICF last year where a barrage of singing, dancing and getting very close to audience members. Her style has caught the eye of comedians Amy Schumer and Whitney Cummings – who she has both collaborated with on TV projects. She is coming back to Australia again to perform at the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, currently on at the moment.

Bridget is always evolving into performing all manner of art forms, but cabaret is her heart and soul, as you will find out in this interview which we conducted about a week ago.

I remember seeing you at last year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival and remember being blown away by your show. I heard it was somewhat a stand-up show but you’re more a cabaret performer. How would you classify yourself?

I’d call myself a cabaret performer but it’s not really ‘on-trend’ here in the US. It’s easier for me to go to comedy festivals and be labelled as stand up I guess by other people. I consider myself a cabaret performer, though.

Was Melbourne your first time that you came to Australia?

I went to the Adelaide cabaret festival before in 2012 where I was part of another group. Melbourne was where I first performed solo in Australia. I have never been to Sydney other than to fly through. I’ve longed dreamed of going there, though.

You’re playing as part of the Mardi Gras Festival. Have you heard or known much of the festival/parade?

I feel like I have seen friends who have been part of it – like the Mardi Gras itself. I’m excited to get a piece of that and see what it’s like. A lot of my New York friends and other people have been down for what I thought was the Mardi Gras, but it wasn’t. I’m really fired up.

A lot of these friends has been ‘you have to go, it’s off the rails. It’s so huge and colourful and beautiful.’ I’ve always wanted to go but the dots never got connected. Other than that the only reason I know about it is through my performer friends that have been there and loved it.

You’re not shy about going into the audience and you do it a lot in your show. How do you do that and get the courage to do it?

I liken it to every show is like a first date and you are trying to get to know the other person. For me, the other person is the audience. It’s a conversation. It’s the wildest, the best first date that you can imagine. Maybe I’m not the first date that everybody wants to go on, but there are a lot of people that do, so for those people: just try to stick around and someone will probably get laid!

I like that idea of how a performance is a conversation.

It is because the best shows I have are ones where there is someone in the audience I talk to the most. Its usually someone unexpected. What they bring to the show is what gives me inspiration. For example, I’ve been doing a lot of these same songs for a long time, but it’s different because of the person I am singing it to or the type of audience that is there. So, it’s always a different experience, and that is really wonderful for me.

What would you consider the most unique thing that people come away with your performances?

There’s a lot of people, especially when I tour around the States who I think are ‘locked up.’ I think my show gives an opportunity for people to let go and unlock. To me, that is the biggest reward and a real treat.

On this last tour, I did a lot of people who I call the AARP’s (Association of Retired Persons), so there was a lot of 80 and 90-year old women that were at my shows and getting them to sing along and dance was amazing.

What that does is to give permission to other people in the audience to not be so wound up tight. It’s incredible and a delight to see that happening. For me, right now, I’m looking for any reason to feel joy. Especially with the crazy things that are happening here politically.

I figure you’d want to deliver more joy to audiences at around this time. I suppose entertainment has a job to do to bring some sort of levity.

It’s funny, a lot of my comic friends – they’re citizens just like I am. Most of my friends are liberal. They’re freaked out but are trying to find ways to keep things funny and making themselves feel good.

It’s hard. It’s a crazy thing, but for me, though, I have shows in New York and I’m so excited… it’s like when you really need to go out and have fun after a long day, the party is even wilder. For me, these shows are a massive release. Fun, joy is all there. It’s just taking something that is already a 10 and going to a 15. We go until the wheels go off.

You have this huge amount of energy too.

When I was in Melbourne, it was a heavy performance schedule for me. Six days a week or something and I’m not really in tip top physical condition by any stretch. I generally try to keep active, walk around. All that kind of thing, getting 10,000 steps in.

I’m not young, I’m not a triathlete, so I sure up energy for the night too. It’s pretty taxing, so I need to sure up for the stage.

That 10,000 steps are just a reminder to keep moving. I was talking to someone who did 30,000 and I was all “fuck you.” We all do the best we can, and you lap around us with your steps. Go fuck yourself. I should wear one of the pedometers while I do my show and I’m sure I’d at least get 30,000. I’ll show him.

Let alone the sweat that you’d generate from the stage and the hotness up there.

Yeah, all those lights up there will probably be at 5,000 steps.

I was looking up a lot of stuff you’ve been doing recently, and you’ve been busy. You’ve just been a part of a few film shootings – one of them that recently got quite a bit of buzz at Sundance. Can you tell me a bit about these films?

Those two films were done with two Australian actors co-starring with me. One was with the divine Toni Collette. That movie is called Fun Mom Dinner. That will be released at some point this year. She is a delight, she is like a warm orb that’s walking towards me. She just glows. I loved working with her so much.

I did another movie called Patti Cake$. It’s about this New Jersey rapper. It was the second highest selling movie at Sundance. They wanted to cast an unknown and I got to work with an Australian whose name is Danielle MacDonald. Her parents were there on set, and I’m telling you – she will be a huge star. I think this movie will have this great reaction like “oh my, she’s an Aussie” because she was so convincing as this New Jersey rapper.

I’m all about the Aussies this year! They’re taking over.

You’ve also worked in TV too, and I simply wonder – how do you fit all this work in?

As we mentioned – the live shows are a physical kind of situation. While with TV and film, the hours are longer, it’s a lot easier. It’s different, but it’s nice to mix things up. I find by doing other things, it’s helping me to come up with new things for my live performance. It’s just good for me to continue to grow and not get stuck. That’s whether it’s for TV or film or whatever – I want to do it.

Bridget Everett performs on February 28th at the Enmore Theatre as part of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Comedy Gala. She will also perform a show at Max Watts in Sydney on March 2nd. For more info & tickets head to www.bridgeteverett.net/tour/

Photo credit: David Kimelman