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Bridget Everett @ Turner Hall Ballroom

Nov. 9, 2016

Nov. 10, 2016
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Photo Credit: Alex Walzak
On the day following Donald Trump’s nightmarish triumph in the presidential election, one thing that seemed particularly hard to come by was a good laugh. I’m not talking about some Onion-headline tee-hee or the odd socially required chuckle either, but the desperately needed-to-keep-from-crying kind, where you may be staring into an unknown abyss but still can’t keep from cracking the fuck up. Thankfully though, and entirely coincidentally, Milwaukee happened to be graced at just the right time by brassy cabaret-comedienne Bridget Everett, who in many ways is the complete antithesis to Trump’s desperate macho postures, a fearless, proudly plus-sized Queen Bitch who couldn’t care less what anybody thinks about her. Fifty percent Bette Midler, 50% Divine and 100% hilarious, Everett’s onstage persona takes a backseat to no one, least of all the president-elect.

Getting this somewhat cathartic show underway was “the hardest working middle-aged man in show business,” Murray Hill, aka the cleverly anachronistic drag king creation of New York stalwart Betsey Gallagher. Sort of a smutty, gender-bending take on a hacky Catskill comedian, Hill’s kitsch sendup of old-school showbiz culture included everything from a labored attempt at tap-dancing to trading insulting zingers with the audience, who were more than game for the bawdy but still old-timey shtick. The crowd participation culminated in a delightfully awkward dance contest, in which the first prize turned out to be the vegetable platter from the Turner Hall dressing room. This all primed the three-quarter-full ballroom, an admirable turnout considering the exhausting circumstances, for Everett herself, who forcefully claimed the stage with the ever-so subtle statement-of-purpose song “Fuck Shit Up.”

Known primarily for her scene-stealing roles on series like “Inside Amy Schumer” and Maria Bamford’s underappreciated “Lady Dynamite,” as well as her debauched, hour-long Comedy Central special “Gynecological Wonder,” Everett often appears with former Beastie Boy Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz as an ironically downplayed bandleader, but here required no additional star-power to capture the audience’s rapt attention. Swilling chardonnay from a brown paper bag, wistfully recalling her twisty sexual history and singing her goddamn heart out (not to mention undergoing several, albeit very casual costume changes), Everett seemed to forge a genuine connection with the appropriately feisty, predictably LGBT-oriented local crowd. While they were likely never too far from anyone’s mind, the election results rarely intruded, and then only in glancing asides, the performance itself protest enough. Sometimes all you can do is laugh.

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