Comedian Bridget Everett Applauds BFF Amy Schumer for Standing Up to 'Glamour' and the Plus-Size Label
By James Patrick Herman
Bawdy should be the middle name of actress, alt-cabaret performer and stand-up comic Bridget Everett, who has been hailed as "the most exciting performer in New York City" by The Village Voice. She is perhaps best known as the BFF of Amy Schumer, who regularly features Everett on her Instagram feed, in every season finale of Inside Amy Schumer and, of course, last summer’s hit film, Trainwreck. Everett can also be seen playing the fictional friend of Maria Bamford on the new Netflix series, Lady Dynamite. And starting in October, fans can even get up close and personal with Everett, when she kicks off her international tour.
So, who can blame the busy entertainer for taking it easy and relaxing with a loved one on the eve of Memorial Day weekend? ("At date night with my dog, Poppy," she wrote in a text message. "The drinks here are laced.") ET later chatted on the phone with Everett about her longtime friendship with Schumer, her struggles with depression, and Hollywood's blockbuster stigmas, ranging from mental illness to plus-size stars.
ET: Yesterday was your favorite holiday, National Chardonnay Day. How did you celebrate -- and how hungover are you now?
Bridget Everett: Here is the worst part about it: I worked until five in the morning, so I couldn't even celebrate. I celebrated by scrolling through photos on my phone of all the different good times I've shared with chardonnay. [Laughs.] It sounds like I am making that up but it's really true.
Ramona was talking about Sonja [Morgan] having problems with, you know, excess. I know that Sonja likes to party until the wheels come off, and I definitely do too. Ramona puts on this face like she drinks responsibly, but I would like to see her after a girls' night out -- late-night cocktails at somebody's house. I bet she gets down.
Did she push her wine on you?
She had the Ramona Pinot Grigio. I was drinking it out of the bottle through a straw, and you know what? It was pretty good as far as Pinot Grigio goes. But it was not about to turn me away from my beloved mother of my children: Chardonnay.
In reference to your upcoming fall tour, Pound It!, Amy Schumer recently tweeted: "If you see one live show ever. Make it this." What is so special about it?
It is part comedy, part cabaret, part rock show. And it's whole immersion therapy -- at least for me. I could drop dead at any moment because I am going so hard. It's a different kind of experience than a lot of people get to see. I so appreciate them being there that I just go 150 miles an hour till I feel like everybody in the room is having a night they're never going to forget for the rest of their life.
How will it be different from your previous shows?
It's not going to be a whole lot different. I am hoping to have some different songs I will work into it. My audience is growing. I like to do the hits but I want people who have come time and time again to have something new to experience. The shows are wildly different. It really comes down to who is in the audience -- and how far they are willing to go. The more the audience gives, the more I will give.
What is the craziest thing you have ever done on stage?
Just go so hard that I lose control of my bladder -- but not in a disgusting way. When Fergie did it, people were like, "Oh, God." And when I lose control of my bladder, I'm like, "Yes!" It means I had nothing left to give. Literally, the bottom fell out.
Pound It! is an evocative title. What does it mean?
Well, when I am on the subway, I have this little game in my head I like to play: Pound It or Pass. I look at people like, "Would I pound that or would I not pound that?" In New York, a lot of people do that. You look at who you would hook up with and then you talk to yourself about why you would. So for me, it's just about seizing the moment, getting in there, making a new friend at last call -- and making it last a lifetime.
Are you jealous of Jennifer Lawrence for trying to steal your best friend, Amy Schumer? After all, you were there first.
[Laughs.] No, because the more the merrier. Amy is so all over the place. We still get in plenty of quality time. She texts me all the time to come walking with her in Central Park. She has a lot of love to give, so I am not jealous at all.
Are you planning to end season four of Inside Amy Schumer with your usual bawdy cabaret act?
I believe that is happening. But I don't count on anything until I see it on the screen.
What shocking song are you planning to sing this year?
I have a show called Rock Bottom that’s got a bunch of songs that I haven't toured with and one of them is called "Eat It." And it is not the Michael Jackson tribute that Weird Al did. It's a different kind of "Eat It." You'll just have to watch to see what that is. I love Weird Al. I would die to collaborate with him. But it's a different message.
You have performed with Patti LuPone at Carnegie Hall. Who would your dream duet partner be?
My dream would be Freddie Mercury but that is not going to happen.
How about a living legend?
Oh my God, Barry Manilow. He was the soundtrack of our lives growing up. My best childhood memories are attached to him. Some people want an Oscar; I want to sing with Barry Manilow.
We are putting it out in the universe.
From your mouth to Barry's ears. Let's do a prayer circle. I don't even pray! I am almost crying just thinking about it right now.
What song would you want to sing?
I have spent a lot of time picturing us singing "Mandy" together. But I feel like it would be a medley. "Weekend in New England" is my favorite along with my siblings. We all love that song so much. But I would sing any song from his oeuvre.
Barry is a Brooklyn boy, so you two have that New York connection.
I saw him on his birthday at Barclays Center last year. I went with [award-winning composer and lyricist] Marc Shaiman, who is a friend of mine, and we had the best time. I cried like 10 times.
I used to go to wild parties at Marc's apartment in Chelsea.
My birthday was about a month ago and he had a little -- I call them mixers. There was a good turnout. We had a great time. And I definitely drank a whole lot of chardonnay.
The last time I was at Marc's place, Patti LuPone was staying there.
I mean, isn't that nuts? He has so many famous friends. I have met so many people in his living room that I still can't believe it. Martin Short gets up and sings a song, and then I get up and sing, and he starts singing with me. I am like,"What the f**k is happening?" He is friends with so many showbiz icons. And Patti -- I have the greatest respect for her and so much admiration. We have been talking about doing a show for a long time. I don't know what that would be. But we keep a list of songs and we dream about doing a night together, which is nuts to me, because I think of her as the grand dame, the ultimate Broadway performer. She's got chutzpah and guts and she's like a real broad, you know? And I just love that so much.
This is my last Amy Schumer question, by the way: Amy was not happy when Glamour included her in their special issue of the magazine for plus-size women -- and she went to great lengths to point out that she is not plus size despite the fact that a huge percentage of her act has always been about body-shaming. How did you feel about Amy's public rejection of the plus-size label?
Her reaction was just she's not plus size because she's not plus-sized. And it's ridiculous to call somebody that's a -- I don't know what size she is, a six or an eight or whatever -- plus size because she's not. I am plus size. I am a big girl. [But] I don't think of myself that way. I have got, like, reverse body dysmorphia -- I will put on a bikini and be like, "Hey, this looks great, right?" Amy was the first person to tell me that I look beautiful and strong. There is no negative connotation to her about somebody being plus size. We never discussed this, but knowing Amy, I know that she doesn't want young girls or women that look up to her thinking that they are plus size -- or fat -- when they are a physically fit, strong size six to eight. It makes no sense. She is not a tiny, little Anna Kendrick, who is beautiful but very petite. Amy is a real woman. Anna Kendrick is a real woman, too, but she's just got a different shape. Amy is slim and trim and rock-hard and ready to go.
Conversely, how do you feel about Ashley Graham being hailed as the poster girl for plus-size beauty by magazines such as Sports Illustrated and Maxim?
She is beautiful and she's got an hourglass figure, but women come in all shapes and sizes. And the good news is that it is cool to see a bigger woman gracing magazine covers. As a full-figured woman, I think it is exciting.
Critics have complained that Ashley doesn't exactly appear to be plus-sized on those covers.
She is bigger than the standard model. That is just a fact. She is shapely and curvy. Maybe one day when I am 50, they will put me on the cover of Vogue.
You play Maria Bamford's confidante on Lady Dynamite. Does it surprise you that Netflix would give a series to a skinny female comic with mental illness before it would give a show to a plus-size female comic?
[Laughs.] Well, here's the thing: Maria is a genius. As far as stand-up comics go, she is adored and respected by everyone. And to me, it makes total sense that they would give her a show. Her voice is so unique. It is a dream vehicle for her. By focusing so specifically on who she is, it has universal appeal because she is so open and lovely and you can see yourself in her.
Do you think that Maria is helping to destigmatize mental illness with her show?
One hundred percent. A lot of people who have reached out to me about the show are friends of mine who struggle with depression and different kinds of mental [health] issues. It is really striking a chord with them, and I don't think there are a lot of programs that handle this subject in an inviting and approachable way like this show is doing.
Is there a stigma against mental illness in Hollywood?
Not just in Hollywood but everywhere. People just don't have a capacity for compassion sometimes and it's too bad. Sometimes people can only wrap their head around what their own personal struggles are. Mental illness isn't like a broken arm -- you can't see it. It is hard for people [to understand], so anything that can open people's eyes and hearts is a good thing. It's an invisible struggle.
Ana Gasteyer plays a Hollywood agent who claims that "96 percent of SAG is mentally ill."Do you think that is an accurate statistic?
Probably. I mean, certainly comics -- and most of the actors -- I know. It comes from a lot of pain. So, yeah, I think it is an accurate quote.
No, but I did get deeply sad for a period of time, and my friend, [drag king pioneer and performer] Murray Hill, suggested I start a band. My dad and sister had both just died and I did not realize how deeply that was affecting me. So, definitely depression, sadness and loneliness I can relate to. I hurt in a way that I didn’t know how to get out of it.
Your friends who are female comics seem to embrace personas that are like exaggerated versions of themselves. Sarah Silverman is the pretty one, Tig Notaro is the cancer survivor, and Maria Bamford is the bipolar one. How would you prefer to describe your own character?
I don't even know how because it feels like I am living a superhero life that I can't believe is happening. I would say it is boozy and joyful and love but it's also just a lot of t*ts.
Do you have any desire to be seen as "the new Melissa McCarthy" in Hollywood?
No. I think Melissa McCarthy does something I could never do. I remember the first time I saw her, which was Bridesmaids. I was like, "Give her an Oscar." I thought she was the best thing I had ever seen. We are different kinds of performers. We are both big girls, full-figured women, but my thing is different. I am a singer -- and dirtier. Would I like to do movies? Sure. But for me, my love is always the stage and having that immediacy. So, that's where my heart lies.
When is Judd Apatow going to offer to direct your own star vehicle?
I don't know, but I am going to see him at Bonnaroo [Music and Arts Festival]. Maybe I will pull him aside and tell him to take a knee and let's have a talk. I do know him -- I met him through Amy via Trainwreck -- and he is really nice. But I am working through something else right now with my mentor. It is like a dream thing and I am hoping that happens. But you know what? There's a lot of time, and there's a lot of Bridget, so there are a lot of good things that could happen.