"IN YOUR FACE" doesn't begin to describe Bridget Everett's live performances. At her monthly showcase at Joe's Pub in New York, the brassy cabaret singer/comedian spends as much time in the audience as she does onstage: She's down there fondling, straddling, spitting, clawing, groping, and pushing her ample bosom (or as she puts it on her Twitter bio: "tits for days") on anyone within arm's reach.
"Everybody wants to be touched," she says, speaking from Austin, where she performed at the Moontower Comedy Festival. "This is my time to have my human contact."
In most cases, the physicality of a stage show like Everett's—not to mention her tendency to perform in various states of undress—would be a ploy to distract from shortcomings in the talent department. But the 42-year-old is the complete package. Her voice is huge and commanding, emboldened by years of training, with a serrated bluesy edge. Even when in service of something as silly as "Titties," an electropop ode to breasts of every shape and size, her singing soars.
Given Everett's voice and commanding stage presence, you might expect her to be working regularly on the Great White Way. After moving to New York from her hometown in Kansas, she did do some musical theater, but quickly realized it wasn't for her. She instead found kindred spirits in the cabaret scene, particularly drag duo Kiki and Herb, who encouraged her to find her own style.
"I just kept pushing it further and further and further," she says. "It was a natural evolution and I finally landed it in the place where I wanted to be."
Word spread quickly about Everett's events at Joe's Pub and she started to gather the support of some famous friends. Comedy Central star Amy Schumer has brought Everett on tour, Broadway legend Patti LuPone is a huge fan, and she's found musical allies in former Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz (he plays in her regular backing band and produced her album Pound It!) and Tony winner Marc Shaiman.
As Everett's star has risen, she's taken her act on the road, including two shows at Mississippi Studios on Thursday. And with these tour dates, she now runs into the challenge of facing a new audience who might not be familiar with her (literally) flashy, hands-on performance style.
"It's fun on the road because every time feels like the first time," she says. "I really enjoy people's reactions, whatever they may be. It's sort of like giving birth in every city, if that were a pleasant experience."
Everett's only concern now is trying to convince bookers outside of New York that, although her songs are crass and hilarious, she shouldn't necessarily be pigeonholed as just a comedy act.
"I consider myself a singer that happens to be funny," she says. "But I've been working more with comics and doing comedy festivals because that's how I'm being marketed, for lack of a better word. In truth, I consider myself a musical event with stories. It's all the elements of who I am, this weird wild person comedy mix called Hurricane Bridget."