Cabaret Queen: Q&A with Downtown Performer Bridget Everett

Kathleen Fox and Jonathan Durbin

Bridget Everett is the kind of raunchy, diabolically funny singer-comedian the word “ribald” was invented to describe. The cabaret performer grew up in Manhattan, Kansas—the “Little Apple”—dreaming of playing shows in New York City. She has since achieved that goal, and then some: these days Everett headlines a monthly show at Joe's Pub downtown, where she and her band, the Tender Moments, indulge in all sorts of chicanery. She's proven to be among the City's best cabaret performers, and it's easy to understand why. She sings, dances and crawls all over her audience in a performance that almost inevitably feels out of control—which, in this case, is a good thing. (Note to the shy: audience participation is definitely on the menu.) Part of the reason for her rising popularity is that she and her band—which includes Mike Jackson on guitar, Matt Ray on piano, Carmine Covelli on drums and Beastie Boy Adam Horowitz on bass—seem to be genuinely enjoying themselves. They're talented people having a good time. What's not to like?

Bridget Everett and the Tender Moments performing at Joe's Pub. Photo: Kathleen Fox

Recently, Everett and friends, including frequent collaborators/co-conspirators Neal Medlyn (aka Champagne Jerry) and Murray Hill, decided to launch a new party. Called “Catch Club Presents,” the evening represents a way for the cabaret clique to get back to their more experimental roots, trying out material that might not hit with audiences who are paying a cover charge and drink minimum. The name comes from a weekly game of catch—no joke, see the photos above—Everett enjoys with Medlyn and Hill in Williamsburg's McCarren Park. The first edition will be on July 1 at The Slipper Room. We caught up with Everett to discuss what she loves about New York City nightlife, where she likes to go for a glass of chardonnay and who, in her opinion, is the best rapper alive.

Catch Club (from left), Neal Medlyn, Bridget Everett and Murray Hill. Photo: Marley White

Where do you love to perform? Bridget Everett: Joe's Pub is definitely my favorite. They are so supportive of the artist there. They've never said no to me, and I've done some seriously crazy s**t. On top of that, the space is cool, the lighting and sound guys always bend over backwards to give us what we need—which is rare, trust me!—and the audiences are like nowhere else in the world. They've seen some really weird stuff go down and they keep coming back. I love that.

Bridget Everett with guest performer/clothing designer Larry Krone of House of Larréon. Photo: Kathleen Fox

What makes someone at your show stand out to be a participant? Most people seem to respond really well to your antics. Is it the luck of the draw? BE: It can be anything. Sometimes, someone is looking down at the ground. I can't speak for every woman, but this woman does not like to be ignored!

What's behind Catch Club? BE: Murray Hill, Neal Medlyn and I are going to do a show called Catch Club Presents. We will each perform and have special guests, with a dance party after. I miss Our Hit Parade [a now-defunct monthly revue Everett co-hosted] and loved the opportunity to try new things. This will allow us to do that.

Catch Club. Photo: Marley White

You're out and about a lot. What do you love about nightlife in the City? BE: There's something for everyone. I love that the bars are open till 4am. I love the breadth of happy hours in this town. I love that the best drag queens in the world perform here nightly: Sweetie, Bianca Del Rio, Sherry Vine, Logan Slaughter and more. I love that you can see [cabaret performer] Justin Bond for only $25 at Joe's Pub, or hang out for free while Andrew Andrew DJ at Parkside Lounge. I love that you can go play bingo with Murray Hill and Linda Simpson and actually hope not to win—go to find out why! I love that you can catch up-and-coming superstars Molly Pope, Erin Markey or Cole Escola singing and telling stories that are hilarious and heartbreaking at 10pm on a school night. And, after all that, there's a taco truck or Chinese food waiting for you if you need it.

Bridget Everett at Alexis Bittar, Upper West Side. Photo: Marley White

Is there an era of New York nightlife that you respond to? BE: When my friends that grew up here talk about the '80s, I get visibly jealous. I grew up in Manhattan, Kansas (the Little Apple), and I used to dream of being Debbie Harry. No one has ever looked cooler.

Bridget Everett and the Tender Moments performing at Joe's Pub. Photo: Kathleen Fox

What's your favorite place for a post-show glass of chardonnay? BE: Drop Off Service on Avenue A. They have the most delicious Mexican deli next door, so I go grab a torta, bring it back, have a few glasses of wine and relax. I also love The Library, which is situated just right upstairs from Joe's Pub in The Public Theater. It is what one would call “very classy.”

What's your favorite restaurant? BE: If I'm being treated by a friend who has a job, I love ABC Kitchen. City Crab has a great happy hour. I love the spicy margaritas at Barrio Chino, but they will light you up! And if I'm in my neighborhood, I go to Planet Sushi, late night. They have a reverse happy hour and make my favorite drink, which is called the Copy This. I designed it: plum sake, chilled sake and vodka served with a side of ice and lemon.

What are some must-do things on the itinerary if a guest is visiting you from out of town? BE: Always take them to see a Murray Hill show. He's a New York institution. Always do the Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty. Hit lunch somewhere great in my neighborhood, like Good Enough to Eat. A happy hour crawl of some kind usually happens, and then we end up at Marie's Crisis, because that's a place everyone needs to go at least once in their lifetime!

Neal Medlyn (aka Champagne Jerry) with Bridget Everett. Photo: Marley White

Are you excited about any upcoming shows? BE: Catvidfest is coming to Warsaw in Brooklyn this October, and I am freaking out! The Comedy Cellar is a great place to catch big-name comics when they're in town trying stuff out. The GoogaMooga Festival this summer in Prospect Park. Meet the Breeds at the Javits Center. The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show every February at Madison Square Garden. Also, my band and I play monthly at Joe's Pub. Come check us out!

Do you have any advice for aspiring cabaret artists? BE: Write every day. Just a little something. If you say something funny, write it down. I keep a notepad. You never know when an idea is going to come. Also, karaoke bars are a great way to play around with different styles of singing. Some people think karaoke bars are sad, but I don't. I was discovered at one.

Who, in your opinion, is the best rapper alive? BE: Well, that's tough. I'd have to say Ad-Rock, followed closely by new-to-the-scene Champagne Jerry. Both blow it up!

Catch Club. Photos: Marley White

Bridget Everett & the Tender Moments have a monthly residency at Joe's Pub. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit