Bridget Everett is surrounded by queer people in her everyday life. She has queer friends, queer family, queer fans – the latter whom she courted while performing her alternative cabaret (while she’s known for singing assholes to a tune accompanied by a ukulele) in the New York gay bars.
Everett, who Amy Schumer featured on her sketch show “Inside Amy Schumer,” is straight but, at this point, you’d have a strong case for making him an honorary member of the LGBTQ+ community. And now, with her new HBO series “Somebody Somewhere,” in which she stars and produces, her queer-filled real life extends to the heart of this moving, semi-autobiographical show. That’s because so much of the show is about the chosen family, and in the case of Sam (Everett), who doesn’t fit his small-town Kansas mold, it’s the town fags who do it. feel at home. Among them are Joel (openly gay actor Jeff Hiller) and Fred Rococo (Murray Hill, comedian and New York drag king performer).
In a recent Zoom interview with Everett, the actress opened up about how “Somebody Somewhere” being gay reflects her own life in some ways, her longtime relationship with Murray, and why she thinks gay people have it.” saved”.
I thought I knew you, until I started writing all these questions last night like you were a fag. Am I the first to assume that you are part of the LGBTQ+ community?
I think, you know, the people I run with [are], and people make assumptions. But you know, we all do our best. [Laughs.]
It must have something to do with your immersion in queer culture. Is the show a reflection of your chosen queer family in the real world?
Oh yes, most certainly. Murray Hill is one of my closest friends, and we’ve known each other for about 20 years. He was the first person to give me a job, to give me stage time, and he was so supportive. And I started meeting people like Murray in New York, and I suddenly felt seen and encouraged to be more of myself. So I feel saved and rescued by the queer community [laughs]. So I really wanted to be on this show because I think that’s who I would be looking for, you know?
How did your chosen queer family translate to “Somebody Somewhere”?
Paul [Thureen] and Hannah [Boss], the showrunners, pitched this world and the idea and had the character of Joel and the character of Fred Rococo. They know I’m friends with Murray. So that was good. It also helped solve the concept for me. I was like, “Oh, well, my homie can be on this show. That’s it [laughs].”
But I think that’s the problem: when you live in a small town and you don’t feel comfortable, you have to find the family of your choice anywhere. We are all looking for our chosen family, aren’t we? But for me, thinking about what it might look like in Kansas was really interesting. I just know that if I still lived in Kansas, I would have found people like Murray.
What was it like growing up in Maine?
I spent summers in Maine at this kind of “Dirty Dancing” resort, and I was singing at night and serving tables during the day. And I went to school in Arizona, so I would be there all year. And then I finally moved to New York and left the two behind. But in high school and growing up, I had a lot of friends. But I didn’t always feel seen by anyone. I looked bad, I was dirty, I always got in trouble with my teachers for talking hot bullshit. I mean, even since I was a little kid. I was just always like that and always got scolded for it. But it also made my friends laugh, you know?
When I got to New York, I remember doing this show with Murray, and we had this song called “Can Hole,” which is about anal sex, and I sang it. The response we got, I was like, ‘Oh my god, people think that stupid shit is funny. These are my people.
You got your start in gay bars, didn’t you?
I was doing a lot of Murray shows [at] gay bars. It feels like queer culture is still cutting edge; queer culture generally identifies what’s coming and what’s new, and encourages you to be yourself. And the only way to succeed and have an original voice is to stay true to yourself. That’s what I felt like I was getting.
As you built a career, it must have felt like a real boost to your self-esteem that your LGBTQ+ audience believed in you and your work.
Yeah, because I struggled with self-esteem and all those things growing up, and low self-esteem. And even though I had a lot of friends, I didn’t feel special. And I felt special when I got to gay bars and gay clubs, and also, encouraged to push even further. [Laughs.] The reason I am the way I am is because of these days.
You can sing in this show, you can act, there’s a bunch of fags, you can do Zumba. Sounds like what you were born to do, doesn’t it?
I mean, I hope so. I feel like I couldn’t have done it until this very moment in my life. I would have been too nervous or bad about myself. But because I had to be an integral part of the whole process, I really felt at home and didn’t let myself get in the way, and I didn’t just feel like a part of it, but I felt celebrated, knowing you ? I felt like we were trying to make everyone feel like that on set. But we felt like we were doing something a little different, and let’s just be ourselves, relax, and see what happens.
You’ve come a long way since “Joseph and the Incredible Technicolor Dreamcoat.”
Fully. Believe me, I remember… oh my god, this is so funny. We were doing [that] in Maine to this resort town, Quisisana, where I worked for many summers. I was singing “These Canaan Days”. I felt like such a star. I didn’t know I could go any further. I had no idea life would get better from there, but it does. [Laughs.]
Going back to Kansas, where you were born, what was your introduction to the queer community?
Two of my favorite cousins were both gay. And my older sister, Brinton, who’s since passed away, I remember her and my cousin Bruce, we’d be at a big family event, and they kind of took me under their wing.
And I still love my cousin Bruce. He is great. Every Friday evening, he goes to play the piano in a retirement home. Super nice, and he’s fabulous and works for Ralph Lauren. But I didn’t have many gay friends in high school. College, yes. I mean, there were. But now I found the queer people in my home town, so when I go home, I see them. When I moved to New York, that’s where I found all my people and my friends. All my gay friends. It was just the community I was looking for and waiting for. And I know there were friends of mine who have since come out. But in Kansas, in the 80s, it was unfortunately not as easy as it is today. And maybe it’s not easy now. You know, I don’t know. I don’t know the right answer. Please edit some of it because I look like a real ding-dong. [Laughs.] But my heart is in the right place.
How close is the show to your current family dynamics?
We tried to make the character of my mother look like my mother, who you can’t even believe is real because she’s so much larger than life. I don’t even know how to describe it. We tried to make the character work, and it was like, “No.” Each time, it looked like a clown. I’m like, we can’t do this. And then the dad, I didn’t have a close relationship with my dad at all, and I have a close relationship with my dad on the show.
But the dead sister was something that was really great for me, because like a lot of people in the Midwest and a lot of people in Kansas, I dealt with my grief in a very solitary, sort of boxed-in way. And this show was a beautiful way for me to mourn her and honor her.
I wish you could see me here while I binge it. I mean, I was watching this alone the other night eating a turkey sandwich and just, like, crying over the turkey sandwich.
Ah, Chris. [Laughs.]
It’s very, very moving, Bridget.
And it also sounds like a big moment for you, career-wise. Do you feel like Hollywood struggled to figure out what to do with you?
Yeah, most definitely. And, you know, that’s not their job. [Laughs.] I’m lucky to be in this position. I’m lucky that HBO wanted to take a chance on me. And HBO has been very supportive, patient and helpful. But it’s hard for me not to be emotional. Even when we’re just watching montages and the HBO logo lights up and the sound goes off – I grew up thinking HBO was crap. And now I’m on HBO. And not just on HBO, but I’m on my own show. And I can’t really stop and think about it that way, because it’s too much, and I’ll be the one crying in my turkey sandwich. [Laughs.]