Bridget Everett may be a classically trained chanteuse but she has a scoundrel’s sense of humor. Her song “Titties” is as hilarious as it is catchy, blending high and low with effortless verve. She also plays softball: Her sporting outfit, Catch Club, meets regularly. From Jan. 6–Feb. 20, her show Rock Bottom returns to Joe’s Pub after a critically acclaimed run in the fall. The show may be called Rock Bottom, but Everett is at the top of her form!
I’d love to hear you talk about Catch Club.
It’s something I do with my buddies Murray Hill and Neal Medlyn (a.k.a. Champagne Jerry). We’re the three core members, and we go to McCarren Park in Brooklyn and we play catch, do drills, move around and talk about showbiz. When you work at night, it’s nice to have a daytime activity, see friends and get some vitamin D and sunshine.
Do you play other sports?
Yeah, I’ve always been an athlete. I went to Arizona State and did competitive sports. I was on the swim team. Growing up I was on a traveling softball team—we were called “The Cuties.” Catch Club came about because a few years ago I was depressed and in a funk and my friend Murray was like, “Get outside and get some sunshine and get an activity going.” It’s great.
Is it just the three of you?
Catch Club is an offshoot of Team Pressure. We play each other. It’s really fun; it’s a group of our friends. Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock of the Beastie Boys) is involved, too; it’s a real collection of artistic misfits. It’s super-fun and everyone’s really cool. It can get competitive. I got the triple crown once, which hasn’t been repeated. I was a VIP rising star!
How often do you meet?
It can be hard with everyone working a lot but when we’re in the swing of it we will meet twice a week—even in winter. It’s a bunch of crazy people in their 40s out there playing catch in the snow.
And Catch Club is where you came up with your song “Titties,” right?
It is. We had more than three of us that day. There were five or six of us doing batting practice and I was out in the field shagging balls and this idea popped into my head. [beginning to sing] “You got go those tube sock titties, put ’em in the air. You got them little nippy titties, put ’em in the air. Put ’em up, put ’em up, put ’em up!!”
I came off the field and I sang it into my phone immediately. And then afterward we were having egg sandwiches and I said to Adam, “Is this silly?” And he said, “Yes, but it sounds like a hit. Write it!”
And now I play it at all my shows. I love singing it because the idea behind it was for my mom. We used to call her Beavertail because she’s got these long beavertail-looking titties. My brother came up with the nickname. She had breast cancer and lost one of her beavertails. She handled it so great. I wanted to sing something for her. That’s what that song is.
Where and how do most of your songs take shape?
It’s always random like that. Sometimes I’m part of a songwriters’ group and we meet once a month and it’s really helpful to have a forced deadline every month. It’s a very non-judgmental place. We also have something called a “hook challenge.” The hook challenge sometimes end up being the hits. Sometimes I’ll sit down and try to come up with something, but usually someone will say something funny, or I will, and I’ll vocalize the idea of whatever it is and whoever had it, and that’s usually how a song comes to me. Then I work on it at home.
I also do a lot of collaborating and I happen to be friends with a lot of great, interesting musicians.
And you collaborate with all kinds of people, from downtown folks like Neal Medlyn to Adam Horovitz. For Rock Bottom you worked with more mainstream musical theatre guys, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman of Hairspray. What’s that like?
It’s great, really. I got a grant to write a new show at Joe’s Pub; they were like, “Would you like a grant?” I was like, “Yeah!” I wanted to work with Scott and Marc and to write a song with Adam and work on something with Matt Ray, who I’d written “What I Gotta Do (to get that Dick in my Mouth)” with.
Working with Marc and Scott was interesting because they have this one rule: exact rhyme. They like everything to have a perfect rhyme, which is a real challenge for me, because I don’t work with any rules. They write well-executed songs, whereas my songs have always been a bit scrappier. But it was a real collaboration. I’d be like, “I can add this here and you can do that there,” and we’d make each other laugh. But they never talked down to me. Marc has a Tony award and five Academy Award nominations, so it was incredible! He loves the song “Titties.”
Jukebox Jackie was the first time Scott and I wrote together. It was great and got got me really fired up. I remember meeting Marc with Scott on the set of “Smash” and liked him immediately. We chitchatted for a second and he came up with this song about a joke I had and was so quick and sharp. I was like, “He should write a whole blue musical.” He was like, “I wrote the South Park movie, bitch!” [laughter] But I never dreamt that he and Scott would like want to work with me. You never know until you ask.
Who else are you dreaming and dying to work with?
I’m really excited about doing something with Patti LuPone. I think it’s going to be a cabaret show and a blend of our styles. We have the same birthday, Apr. 21.
Do you feel like a Taurus?
I do feel like a typical Taurus, and from my view Patti’s also a Taurus through and through.
How did you meet each other?
She came to see Jukebox Jackie, the show I did with Scott at La Mama in 2012, and she was really complimentary afterward. I was so fired up—she’s sort of this epitome of a Broadway diva with the heart of an outlaw. She’s just so fun to be around and so fun to watch. She was hanging with Scott one day and we were texting that we should all have lunch together and it was like, “Yeah, let’s sing!” And I said, “Don’t say it if you don’t mean it!” I had said how I’d never sing at Carnegie Hall, but then six months later I sang with Patti LuPone at Carnegie Hall.
You should do the cabaret show on your birthday! In his review of Rock Bottom, Charles Isherwood described you as “rampaging id.” What do you make of that?
I think that’s a pretty good description. I read reviews but don’t pore over them or commit them to memory. But I remember seeing that and thinking, “Oh! That’s how you describe it.” People always ask you how to describe your shows and I still can’t describe them. It’s great when someone else does.
I want to do a show and have an experience with an audience that feels unforgettable. Unforgettable in a great way—or maybe in a not great way for some people—but I want the audience to really feel something. And so I think that “rampaging” is a good word for that, because it’s full throttle. I’m 150 percent committed to every show I do and that comes in physically, vocally and emotionally. I’m so grateful to do it every time because I have pretty bad stage fright.
How do you manage it?
I have happy hour! I’ll have a glass of wine before I go on. Also I do that trick with your eyes where you blur everyone out. If I’m especially nervous, I’ll do exercises before I go on. But yeah—I blur my eyes to chill.
The show is both so hilarious but also very moving and vulnerable—how do you move between the bawdy and brave, soul-baring stuff?
I don’t know, other than the fact that those are just different facets of who I am. I wouldn’t want to watch a show of just “Titties” for 90 minutes. Like anyone else, a lot of the humor has pain underneath it. For me, music and singing has always been the best way for me to communicate. When you go see something you want to see every color of the rainbow of that show. I like all different kinds of music. I went to the opera last night…
What’d you see?
Shostakovich’s Macbeth at the Met. It was three and a half hours. Scott took me and I really enjoyed it! The orchestra was phenomenal, even if some of the storyline goes on. I love the grandness of opera, but I also enjoy chamber music at a cocktail party. I love Barry Manilow and Queen.
How did your band the Tender Moments come together?
It was an accident. I doing a show at Joe’s Pub, Our Hit Parade, and I wanted to do a new solo show of all love songs. So I booked it while I was there one night. I’ve often operated on the plan to book it and then do it. I have to have a deadline or I won’t do it. So I come downstairs that night and Adam was there and I said, “I’m going to start a band.” And he said, “Do I want to be in your band? What? I am in a professional band!” So I said, “Don’t say it if you don’t mean it!”
Then I asked a longtime friend and collaborator Mike Jackson to be on guitar. I asked my friend Carmine, who’s on the softball team, to do drums. And Matt Ray—it’s been fantastic because it’s like the first thing that I did that I was totally in control of and making all the decisions for. If I thought something was a good idea I’d be like, “Let’s do this,” and they liked my crazy ideas and we just did it and it’s been so fulfilling. I’m happy I took a chance on myself. Anytime you do that it’s gonna pay off.
Your costumes are amazing. Do you have a favorite? What’s your daywear like?
My friend Larry Krone is the costumer for Rock Bottom and the force behind House of Larréon and the first thing he made was a silver muumuu I wore. His designs are funny and whimsical but they also really showcase my body in a way I’m comfortable showing it! His costumes embrace the power of a full-bodied woman, if you know what I’m saying! For Rock Bottom he made a kimono; it was called Holy Kimony, and it got stolen.
I saw that on Instagram! How’d it get stolen?!
I take it off at the end of the show and throw it into the audience. I usually throw it to a friend but it gets a little chaotic and I don’t know what happened. It’s gone. It was a bummer because it was my new favorite. The only thing I feel great about is that the kimono was so glittery that I hope whoever stole it has glitter over their face!
Did you always know you’d be a singer? You are classically trained…
Yes, but I had no idea how or what or where or why. I trained classically at Arizona State and loved the repertoire and listening to opera and singing it. But the life style for me is a no go. I like to stay up late and have fun and go to parties that are noisy and chitchat. I need to have a fast and loose lifestyle. It was interesting being at the opera last night just to see if I had stayed that course, what my life would have looked like. I made the right decision.
You have a great song about loving chardonnay and “Murder, She Wrote.” Any other things you care to defend in print?
The beauty of the character of Bridget is that she doesn’t give a shit what people think. I love chardonnay and staying up late on Petfinder and making a wish list of kitties and special-needs pets. I love watching kitty cat videos and I love Barry Manilow. I think that all those things are pretty fucking great.
Do you have any pets?
I want one, but I travel a fair amount and my apartment isn’t the kind of place for an animal. So not until I’m in a place where I can afford great care for my animal when I’m away.
Speaking of your apartment, what’s hiding under your bed?
I have a lot of dolls. Sometimes I’ll forget to hide my dolls—they’re like my children. They aren’t like cute dolls that you would see on a Marie Osmond telecast—more like the kind that you can buy at CVS around Christmas time. Some have burn marks…
I won’t investigate further into that one. What is your idea of spiritual bliss?
Probably sitting on the beach at sunset with a fluffy kitty cat and a bottle of chardonnay. That’s as close to heaven as I’m gonna get.
January is good for…
Oysters. The water’s cold. January is good for coming to see Rock Bottom! It’s also a great time to buy tickets to the Westminster dog show and look at the dogs. Usually for me January is just a time to stay at home, bundle up and fire up some new dirty songs.
Speaking of which, if American Theatre magazine had a theme song, how might it go?
I have a song called “Living the Dream,” and it sounds like that fits with the magazine. Stay strong out there and live the dream!