Interview, Audio: Bridget Everett Plays Mom in ‘Patti Cake$’

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CHICAGO – Bridget Everett is a New York City entertainment maven, as a singer and “cabaret provocateur.” She is breaking out recently as a movie actor, with the just-released comedy “Fun Mom Dinner” and her latest role, as a mother to “Patti Cake$,” a white girl hip-hop artist from New Jersey with a determination of gold.

“Patti Cake$” features Danielle Macdonald in the title role, that of a bartender with a talent for hip hop rhymes, and her friends Jheri (Sid Dhananjay) and Bob (Mamoudou Athie), who want to help her record her beats. Patti’s home life is difficult, as her mother Barb (Bridget Everett) is depressed and unstable, plus her grandmother (Cathy Moriarty) is fighting a homebound illness. But Patti will not be stopped, despite her weight, the odds and her obsession with rapper O-Z (Sahr Ngaujah). The film was written and directed by Geremy Jasper, making his debut as a feature filmmaker.

Patti (Danielle Macdonald) and Mom Barb (Bridget Everett) in ‘Patti Cake$’
Photo credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Bridget Everett has had a long and winding road to notoriety. She was raised in the midwestern environs of Manhattan, Kansas, but knew there was something else for her down that road… to Manhattan, New York City. She developed a hugely popular cabaret act in the Big Apple, and sings with her band, The Tender Moments. She had a Comedy Central special in 2014 called “Bridget Everett: Gynecological Wonder,” and her film “Fun Mom Dinner” opened on August 4th in theaters and Video-On-Demand. She spoke to about her character of Barb in “Patti Cake$,” and that long road to knowing what was the destiny for her talent. The part of Barb was about understanding her circumstance. What do you think made her most distressed in the situation she was in, and caused her sometimes questionable behavior?

Bridget Everett: I think she is jealous that her daughter saw something in herself that she didn’t see in her own self. I don’t necessarily know if that was the case, but that’s how I portrayed her, that’s how I felt about the situation. This was a bit more dramatic a role than your usual comic ‘cabaret provocateur’ persona. What was most daunting about creating the pathos of the character as much as her extreme behavior?

Everett: I had never done anything like this before, and it was really about Geremy Jasper convincing me to come to Sundance Labs, and I thought ‘yeah, I’ll come to Sundance to hang out.’ [laughs] But in all honesty, I was really terrified to take on the character, but he reassured that we’re all going to be there and we’re all going to figure it out together.

I was talking to Danielle [who portrayed Patti] the other day, and I told her about the first time we read the script… I was stumbling over my lines and choking, and I thought I just wasn’t getting it. Danielle then said she was simultaneously having the same experience, but as I was observing her, she seemed so seasoned and in control. I also found out that Geremy was in the same boat. There was a level of community in finding it together, we built it from the ground up. Had it gone to a studio, they would never have picked a lead girl who had not rapped before and a singer who couldn’t act. [laughs]

Bridget Everett (right), with Nikki Glaser and Caudio Odoherty in Amy Schumer’s “Trainwreck”
Photo credit: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment Barb isn’t necessarily a loser, but she perceives being one due to some questionable life circumstances. If you as Bridget were to meet her for dinner, what advice would you give her after you found out about those life circumstances?

Everett: I’d tell her to let herself off the hook. I’ve struggled with the same thing that Barb is going through, she had circumstances that she never really pictured happening. But when you beat yourself up about it, you make it a thousand times worse. Once you take your foot off the gas, your life will elevate. Do you think she got there in the timeline of the story?

Everett: It was the first step. Barb has a long way to go, but that was the first step. This film is different because it explores a level of society that we don’t often see in the movies… the struggling working class. What lessons do you think we learn by seeing that segment of America reflected back to ourselves when we watch Patti Cake$?

Everett: There is something to be said for taking a chance, as Patti does, and believing in yourself. It sounds very simple, but the truth is most people don’t give themselves the opportunity to do what they really want to do, because they feel trapped by their circumstances. But it’s critical to trust your heart… it’s personally taken me 20 years to get there myself.

In the audio portion of the interview, Bridget Everett talks about her early career, from Manhattan…Kansas… to New York City, and her sisterhood connection to comedian Amy Schumer.

“Patti Cake$” opens nationwide on August 18th. See local listings for theaters and show times. Featuring Danielle Macdonald, Bridget Everett, Cathy Moriarty, Mamoudou Athie and Siddharth Dhananjay. Written and directed by Geremy Jasper. Rated “R” senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Writer, Editorial Coordinator

© 2017 Patrick McDonald,

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