This old town hasn’t seen a dame as bawdy as Bridget Everett since those big fat mamas who stripped for free drinks at Sammy’s Bowery Follies. But you’ll just have to take my word on that, since most of the song lyrics in “Rock Bottom,” Everett’s rollicking cabaret show currently playing at Joe’s Pub (and featuring tunes co-written by Broadway babies Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman as well as Beastie Boy Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz) are unprintable and her best comedy routines are obscene. The singer-songwriter-performer-provocateur broadened her audience base when she appeared on Comedy Central’s “Inside Amy Schumer,” but there’s nothing quite like seeing her live and onstage, in the (considerable and barely covered) flesh.
It’s not an act. That’s the big revelation in this slickly mounted 90-minute cabaret show commissioned by Joe’s Pub. Bridget Everett (who graciously acknowledges herself to be a “regionally recognizable cabaret singer”) is every bit as joyously uninhibited as the sexually liberated persona she presents on stage. Whatever you may think of the generously endowed body she displays with pride (“Eat It” is her cheerful directive in one song), this is one big girl who is happy in her skin — and falling out of the super-sized costumes that Larry Krone has cunningly designed for maximum exposure.
The lady sure does like her men, as attested to by the clever graphics (by Richard “Dickie” DiBella) to “A Man So Fine.” But if she can’t have Daniel Craig, she’ll settle for whoever’s available — and may the gods help those old guys sitting ringside.
Presenting herself like one of those voluptuous fertility goddesses people worshipped in pre-Christian cultures, she aggressively stalks the flesh-and-blood men in the audience and thrusts her womanhood in their faces (or on their laps) and serenades them with a raunchy song. Something like “Tell Me (Does This Dick Make My Ass Look Big?),” performed with the aid of a gigantic dildo. Or “Put Your Dick Away,” which relies heavily on audience participation. Or the title ditty, “Rock Bottom,” a hilarious account of all the horrible things she’s done — and still wants to do — in her lifetime. (“I still got a little more time,” she reassures herself, “until I hit rock bottom.”)
There are ten of these songs in the show, written by Everett with her main collaborators, Shaiman and Wittman (“Hairspray,” “Catch Me If You Can”), and served up at full volume by a four-piece onstage band who aren’t ashamed to call themselves The Tender Moments, with a boost from two backup singers. Some of the cultural references are head-scratchers. (Nipsey Russell? Jessica Fletcher?) But for the most part, the unprintable lyrics are wickedly witty and sung with great gusto by Everett, who has beaucoup stage presence and a strong voice — not quite powerhouse, but close to it — that can also be surprisingly sweet.
That sweetness is delivered like a gift in “Get Over You,” a bluesy lament for a lost love; “Why Don’t You Kiss Me,” a candid expression of honest desire; and “I’ll Take You Home,” which is just flat-out beautiful.
But enough tenderness — let’s hit the dirt. From down here, the most outrageous number looks to be “Let Me Live,” an inspired version of Pat Boone’s saccharine anti-abortion song, sung here by the heroic Cole Escola, that is just too funny for me to give the joke away.