Bridget Everett Wants You To Take A Chance On Yourself

The star of HBO’s Somebody Somewhere opens up about playing a version of herself on screen.

by Emily Maskell

Courtesy of Getty Images

It’s impossible to pick the best noun with which to introduce Bridget Everett. Actor, stand-up comedian, alternative cabaret performer, producer, writer, singer—she does it all. A gem of New York City, Everett regularly frequents Joe’s Pub with her rambunctious cabaret act, she’s performed stand-up on Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer, and stole the show in Geremy Jasper’s 2017 indie feature, Patti Cake$.

Now, with Somebody Somewhere, her seven-episode HBO original comedy, Everett is arguably the most real she has ever been with her audience. In the endearing series based on her life, Everett stars as Sam, a 40-something woman stuck in Kansas while grieving the loss of her sister and attempting to rediscover her voice. Anchored by her humble hometown surroundings, Sam’s artistic dreams of singing grandeur are put on pause.

W called Everett to chat about the experience of playing a version of herself on screen in Somebody Somewhere, her go-to karaoke songs, and the documentaries she’s obsessing over lately.

Somebody Somewhere is described as your autobiographical series, when did you decide that you wanted to draw inspiration from your own life to create this show?

Well, I actually didn't. Our showrunners Paul [Thureen] and Hannah [Bos] pitched the idea to me and I’d never thought about doing a show in a small town let alone my own hometown. But as they pitched it, it felt right. As we further developed the series we laid down themes from our real lives which helped me, as an untrained actor, to make it more personal and true to my life experience.

You’re a very musical person. Do you use soundtracks to get into character?

During Somebody Somewhere, I listened to a lot of ’70s rock and Barry Manilow, which was the soundtrack of growing up in my house. Also, England Dan and Ambrosia really made me feel connected to my sister, who, like Sam’s, passed away. We have that connection.

You play a version of yourself, but in what ways is Sam not like you?

Even though she is sort of sad and drifting through life, I feel like she has a much larger willingness and eagerness about her to re-engage. I’m much more of a shut-in. When I’m offstage I like to be alone in my apartment. I think Sam is looking for an invitation to rejoin life and does so more willingly than I might do myself.

This performance is really a culmination of your grounded dramatic work, like in Patti Cake$, with sprinklings of your singing and comedic talents. How did you approach this role that is somewhat different from your previous work?

I would agree with that. I think if it weren’t for the experience of the live cabaret show that I do and the live comedy festivals but also getting the opportunity of doing Patti Cake$, I never would’ve been able to do this. I’m not a classically trained actor, but I’ve been given a lot of opportunities along the way to kind of figure it out. This is the culmination of a lot of life experience, patience, tenacity, and help from a couple of friends along the way.

What do you hope people take away from Somebody Somewhere?

Take a chance on yourself…. what’s the worst that can happen?

Let’s get into the Culture Diet questions. What’s the first thing you read in the morning?

I typically don’t really read in the morning, I usually like to put on music. I find that it is the most soothing and it stimulates my brain. Then I’ll play The New York Times’s spelling bee.

How do you get your news?

My usual spots are The Washington Post and The New York Times with a little whisper of NPR. I try to get a beat of what’s going on but not so much that it’s going to keep me under the covers all day.

What’s the last thing you Googled on your phone?

The last thing… Should probiotics be doing this to my body? [Laughs.]

What TV shows have been keeping you up all night?

Right now I’ve been doing a deep dive into Search Party which is excellent. John Early and Alia Shawkat are killing it! They all are. I also love documentaries. I’ve just watched the Sesame Street doc and Harlan County, USA, which is older. A wildcard that my friends recommended was 60 Days In; it’s about people volunteering to go undercover into prisons. It just seems like the most asinine thing in the world but it’s wildly entertaining.

What’s the last thing you saw at the theater?

I saw Justin Vivian Bond at Joe’s Pub, which is my favorite place to do live entertainment. They were just reopening after the pandemic so it was very exciting and Justin Vivian Bond is one of the most dynamic performers I’ve ever seen.

What are your go-to karaoke songs?

I’ve got three: “Piece of My Heart,” “You Oughta Know,” and “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers. They’re all cathartic in their own way, and we all need a lil something to give us a jolt from the inside these days.

What podcasts have you been into lately?

I’m not really a podcast girl but I’m just learning how to download Audible because I want to listen to The Cinnamon Bear by my friend Eric Gilliland which sounds like a delightful romp. I did a small part in it but I’m barely in it. He keeps telling me how good it is so I gotta listen.

Are you into astrology at all?

Well, that’s a good question. I’m into astrology because I think I’m a total Taurus but I really don’t know what that means. I just know that I’m stubborn and I think that’s one of the characteristics. When somebody says “she’s such a Sagittarius,” I’m like “I know right,” but I have no idea what the fuck they’re talking about. I know Geminis are quite wild, I think I like Geminis. I love Virgos. I don’t know the science behind it but I love Virgos.

What’s the last thing you do before you go to bed?

Watch porn. Can I say that? [Laughs.] Or, I always check before I go to sleep with the hopes that I’m going to find and fall in love with another Pomeranian.