Bridget Everett says she treats cabaret singing like a "full-contact sport," and many of the clips of her performances posted on YouTube, performing hits by Rihanna and Janis Joplin, help explain how she's gone from singing with abandon to landing movie roles as a brassy, hard-charging personality.
Everett has had several movies released so far this year. She plays the mother of a teenage female rapper in Patti Cake$, released by an offshoot of Court 13 (Beasts of the Southern Wild). She has a lead role along with Molly Shannon and Toni Collette in Fun Mom Dinner, in which women who only know each other because their kids are in preschool together go on a bender. She's also in Little Evil, a comedy horror film about a couple who may have given birth to the Antichrist.
"People who want me in their movies want the flavor of Bridget, and I just have to calibrate the level," Everett says via phone from her home in New York. "My instinct is to play to people in the room. I did a table read (for a screen role). My friend came up to me and said, 'They want me to fire you. We're going to keep you. Tone it down.'"
Everett isn't planning on toning it down for her cabaret show at One Eyed Jacks Monday, Oct. 23, with comedian and host Murray Hill and Kitten N' Lou. The show includes original songs (many with explicit names) from her album Pound It!, plus whatever she's in the mood for.
"This is old time showbiz: big time hits and money notes," she says. "It's like you're on a first great date and the only question is, 'Is anybody gonna get laid?'"
Everett broke into New York's cabaret scene and movies because of her powerhouse voice and the way she throws herself into a song. She was discovered singing karaoke.
"I like to sing 'Piece of My Heart' and big rockers," Everett says. "I wasn't trying to get discovered. I was just trying to shake the beast — the beast inside of me that needed to sing like that. Even in show choir in high school (in Manhattan, Kansas), I wanted to rip out of my clothes and my skin and throw my heart on the floor and be like, 'Look at that motherf—kers! That's rock.'"
That energy has paid off in New York — many times. After Broadway diva Patti LuPone heard Everett sing The Velvet Underground's "Waiting for the Man" at a show, she invited Everett to sing with her at Carnegie Hall.
Doing her act at Montreal's Just for Laughs comedy festival attracted Amy Schumer, and Everett has been on every season of Inside Amy Schumer on Comedy Central. (The two are friends and have vacationed together in New Orleans, Everett says.)
Everett and her band The Tender Moments (often featuring the Beastie Boys' Adam Horovitz) have been regular performers at Joe's Pub, one of the venues at New York's Public Theater. Joe's Pub is a notable spot where Amy Winehouse and Adele first performed when they arrived in the U.S., and it helped launch a generation of new types of cabaret performers including Everett and Justin Vivian Bond.
While she plans to continue cabaret singing, Everett's spending more time on film. Love You More, an Amazon pilot written with Bobcat Goldthwait and also starring Loni Anderson debuts Nov. 10.
"I keep it 50/50," Everett says. "Singing and doing live performing is the wife. The film and TV stuff is the mistress. And I love both and I can't quit either of them."