I think we throw around the term “force of nature” around willy nilly. Don’t you think? The Dictionary defines the phrase as such: “In physics, one of the fundamental forces that occur in nature and affect the structure of the universe, including gravitation, electromagnetism, strong force, and weak force.” When we then apply the term to human beings, we must be careful, for not just any Tom, Dick, or Harry fits this definition. There have been a few- John Belushi, Janis Joplin, Joan Rivers, and Robin Williams who are all dearly departed whirling dervishes who conjured up exhaustion just by looking at them but who also knew how to really tug at your aorta when the time was right. I live for these types of people and this past week at Joe’s Pub, I was living for a new-ish member of that crazy tribe- Bridget Everett.
I was there with a handful of friends for the first show of Everett’s new spectacle “Rock Bottom” which has the distinction of being the Public Theatre’s 59th season opener. Also in attendance, ready and willing to be boob slapped was Sarah Jessica Parker (I think she got the closest picture of Bridget’s “under carriage” and I’ve been waiting for her to post it on Instagram, but alas- also, side note, this was during NY Fashion Week and SJP was at opening night of this show instead- just to let you know how NOT TO BE MISSED this freakin thing is)… and my former boss Billy Eichner of “Billy on the Street” fame who was on the receiving end of a very impressive motorboat. Not bad, not bad at all. This show only runs till Oct. 11th, so don’t be a jackass— stop reading this post, buy tickets immediately, and then return. Go here: ROCK BOTTOM. BYYYYYYYYE!!!!
Ok, welcome back. Hope you got good seats.
So, full disclosure, this was my third time seeing Bridget in all her f-ing glory. I can’t get enough, clearly. I was prepared for what was to come, but what makes me happier than anything in the whole wide world, is taking my friends who have no idea what’s coming and seeing them lose their shit over this woman. I don’t even let them YouTube first. Pure happiness for me. It’s almost like giving them a sexual experience. Like how people say that thing about chocolate being an equivalent? Bridget makes your body heave with laughter, sweat from embarrassment, cool down during a “tender moment” song, and long for a cigarette after your night filled with bottles of Chardonnay and beaver tail titties (“put em up, put em up”) leaves you in a state of disorientation. And then there’s the room full of people who just experienced this happening with you. As we all tried to remember our names at the end of the night, gathered our things, tried to find where our pants went, and shuffled out the door feeling both completely satisfied and bewildered, I was reminded of Bette Midler’s exclamation after the terrifying window washer scene in “The First Wives Club.” Ya wanna go again?!!?
I’ve known about Bridget for years. I first became aware of her while I was working at a “Dirty Dancing” type of resort in Center Lovell, Maine called Quisisana. Situated on Lake Kezar in the White Mountains, this is where talented, mostly college-age kids go to entertain the shit out of lovely, rich families- but only after serving them lobster before the show. Bridget had been a performer there years before me, but both staff and guests would talk about this “Bridget Everett” person and her raunchy show back in NYC which everyone HAD to catch. There was a little tack board in the Main Lodge where owner Jane Orans would put surrounding “things to do” or important phone numbers for massage therapists in the area. But also on this board was a newspaper clipping that she had cut out- a review of Bridget’s show “At Least It’s Pink.” I believe the first line of the review likened her to Bette Midler– and I have to shamefully admit, as a Bette Midler scholar, I am a skeptic when people fling around Bette Midler likenesses. I was both intrigued and knew I had to see her live and see for myself. A couple years after that, our mutual friend Marsh was going to see Bridget’s show “Bridget Everett & The Tender Moments” at Joe’s Pub and did I want to go? Um, let me think for zero seconds….yeah…. we were first row- which means we were pressed up against the stage and we were about to enjoy Bridget from a very intimate angle. I was hooked. I am also really fricken happy to see that she has been exposed to the TV-viewing masses because of her appearances on “Inside Amy Schumer” as both a featured player in sketches and as the season’s closer- actually doing her thang from the stage at Joe’s Pub. Bridget is not only the best alt-cabaret performer in NY, she is the best performer in NY period. I’ve never seen anything like her. And from the sounds of it- neither has anyone else.
“Rock Bottom” is such an experience- I can’t even explain it. For this particular show, Bridget collaborated with Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman on the music & lyrics, with Wittman driving the bus. So, there ya go- the Bette Midler likeness continues, because if I know anything about Shaiman- he’s not going to waste time working with anyone who has less talent than the divine and who is also a true force of nature. IF you don’t know Marc Shaiman, he is the composer/lyricist (along with Scott Wittman) for such Broadway shows as Hairspray, Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me, Catch Me If You Can, as well as long time Bette Midler collaborator/pianist, and genius behind some of your favorite soundtracks such as Sister Act, When Harry Met Sally, Beaches, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, and City Slickers. I can’t EVEN with him.
At the end of the night, a very old and (safe-to-say) gay man leaned over to our table and said “This must-a been what it was like to see Bette Midler at the bathhouse.” Couldn’t agree more.