Since the autumn 2014 run of Bridget Everett’s Rock Bottom, the Village Voice cover star extended her show’s Joe’s Pub dates through February, starred in the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s “Betty vs. the NYPD” video, and filmed forthcoming Comedy Central special Gynecological Wonder. Thursday evening at Hell’s Kitchen venue Stage 48, the alt-cabaret breakout was also honored at the performance-art community’s Bridget Everett Gets Fucked by Ars Nova.
Table seating was designated via lyric placards rising above votive candles and penis-shaped confetti. One might find oneself seated at the “Flap Jack Titties” table, for example, or the “Cave Man Titties” table, “Tic Tac Titties” table, “Nurse Jackie Titties” table, etc. Just below the stage, the “Bridget Everett Titties” table sat front and center and loaded with chardonnay.
Directed by Hairspray vet Scott Wittman and DJ’d by Neal “Champagne Jerry” Medlyn, the tribute, good-natured roast, and collection of well-wishing interstitial videos from Alan Cumming, Sex and the City writer-director Michael Patrick King, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Dina Martina, and an Andy Cohen/Anderson Cooper twofer benefited the nonprofit theater where, under artistic director Jason Eagan, Everett developed her 2007 debut show, At Least It’s Pink.
Chris Tyler’s quintet of male dancers in Everett-inspired blond wigs and strapless red dresses kicked off the free-for-all with a rendition of “Fuck Shit Up” and Everett idol Barry Manilow’s “Mandy.” Of the Ars Nova promo video that followed, comedian John Early quipped, “Ars Nova: a real beacon of nuance for the arts community.” Addressing Everett, he confessed, “I feel very connected to you, because we both look like aging Hitler Youth.”
The Dan Band’s Dan Finnerty and drag queen Sweetie revisited deep cuts from Pink, as did Jim Andralis and House of Larrèon designer Larry Krone. Duetting on ukulele-accompanied anal-sex ode “Can Hole,” Andralis reminisced on the less tasteful segments he and Everett conceived for unproduced talk show Chatterboxes. Said Krone, “I would sit and pray that she would ask me to design clothes for her,” as a slideshow of Everett looks — including first piece, the pink and yellow “Pussy Dress” — unspooled overhead.
“This is like backstage at the Ice Capades!” noted drag king Murray Hill, who auctioned opportunities to be both motorboated between Everett’s “beavertail” breasts and spared from being motorboated. “Let’s hear it for the three heteronormative women here tonight!”
Backed by Everett’s band the Tender Moments, with whom she recorded 2013 album Pound It, Kiki and Herb’s Justin Vivian Bond unleashed a snarling, table-hopping, balcony-trekking version of Pound It‘s “Pussy Power,” while Molly Pope countered with Rock Bottom swooner “Why Don’t You Kiss Me?”
“I met Bridget in 2008,” Pope recalled midway through. “She made a man eat a Smartie off her lady-parts. She’s been a trusted mentor and friend ever since.”
As diapered, body-suited stand-ins for Everett’s real-life double-uterus abortions, Cole Escola and Erin Markey traded verses on a favorite Everett cover, Miley Cyrus’s “The Climb.” Billy on the Street agitator Billy Eichner followed, declaring, “Tonight’s not about roasting Ars Nova, it’s about celebrating Amy Schumer’s best friend of the last one year…How do you describe Bridget Everett’s career? It’s what would happen if you put Melissa McCarthy’s career and Rebel Wilson’s career and Adele’s career in a blender, and then never turned it on.”
Calling Everett to the stage, Eichner introduced a cake-wielding Sarah Jessica Parker and led a singalong for Everett’s April 21 birthday. When Everett turned to face the overhead screen, a personal video from Manilow himself rolled. “It means so much to me that I was told my music was the soundtrack to your life,” the singer smiled from his piano bench. “Happy birthday!” The stunned Everett wiped away tears as the crowd of 400 rose in a standing ovation.
“They said there was going to be a surprise,” Everett gasped, composing herself. “I thought my mom was going to be here. This is so much better!” After performing “What I Gotta Do,” backed by the Varsity Interpretive Dance Squad, she welcomed “biggest badass in Broadway” Patti LuPone, who initiated her own brief motorboating interlude with Everett during Hall and Oates’s “Rich Girl.”
Chucking her black strapless bra, Everett conceded, “My life in New York began when I went to Ars Nova. It changed me [in] every way: personally, creatively, finding my chosen family….They put me on a track and fostered my career. I drink a lot and I’m wild onstage and a little reckless, but that’s because you told me it was OK!”
With Marc Shaiman on piano, Everett belted admittedly raspy (“I’ve been laughing too hard!”) Rock Bottom ballad “I’ll Take You Home” before heading into the crowd for full-contact fan favorite “Titties.” Back onstage, she cast aside her red sequined dress in favor of the straining red bikini beneath, friends and supporters shouting in unison to the defiant “We don’t give a fuck/So put your hands up” lyrics of appropriately grateful closer “Living the Dream.”
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