Chatting with Bridget
Photo: Tony Donaldson
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The sharp-witted and outrageously funny Bridget McManus seems to have a finger in every pie. In addition to performing provocative stand-up comedy, McManus is also busy writing blog posts, acting in Web series, updating BridgetMcManus.com, hosting galas and self-help shows, traveling, and filming her popular weekly AfterEllen.com and LOGO vlog Brunch with Bridget, in which she interviews pajama-clad female guests in her bed. McManus dishes about which of these endeavors has been her favorite, how her family reacts to her racy routine, and who she would love to challenge to a pillow fight.
Some would say your routine is rather self-deprecating and seems to be without boundaries. How would you describe your humor?
Without boundaries? Moi? I've always been self-deprecating. Growing up with weight issues my classmates made fun of me so I turned it around and made fun of myself. I figured if anyone was going to make fun of me it going to be me and I was going to be the best at it. My humor is dark, defiant, random and has too many musical numbers.
You're originally from Connecticut and moved to LA in 2003. What prompted this move?
A few years earlier, I had been living in New York City and wanted to pursue stand-up but still hadn't mustered up the courage. I briefly worked with the comedy troupe Grownup's Playground at New York Comedy Club in early 2001. After September 11, I stayed in the city but didn't pursue anything creatively. In 2002, I moved back to Connecticut to be with my family and tried to figure out what was next for me. In May of 2003, I packed up two suitcases, a huge desktop computer, and a guitar and drove cross-country to start my life over. I crashed on my friend's floor for three months until I found a job. Now, five years later, I'm in the exact place I want to be with my life.
You've mentioned performing stand-up into a turkey baster at the age of 4, and that you used comedy to cope with cruel classmates in school, but how did you get your start as a professional stand-up comic?
I went through a lot of turkey basters as a child. In January of 2007, I decided to just go for it. I had been talking about stand-up my entire life and acted as if it was too late to get started. (As if I was a Vietnam vet returning limb-less from war and unable to find love. Is that a stretch?) I compiled a list of open mic venues and I was out at clubs every night of the week trying to craft three minutes of comedy gold. At each open mic, I met more comics who had other projects going on and invited me to take part. My three minute sets became seven minute sets which became headliner sets (at lesbian bars in Long Beach on Tuesday nights). My big break was in December of 2007 while performing at a gay show at Hamburger Mary's restaurant in West Hollywood. The show was being taped for Comedy.com. My taped set was noticed by Peoplejam.com who asked me to host a new show called Daily Jam. Also, at that event I met producer Andrea Meyerson who cast me in her documentary Laughing Matters: The Next Generation. The documentary is about six up and coming queer comics.
How did the AfterEllen.com vlog opportunity present itself?
In September of 2007, Dara Nai, a writer for AfterEllen.com, contacted me for an interview for an article she was writing about "5 Lesbian Comics You Might Not Know But Should", which also featured Sabrina Matthews from Last Comic Standing. Two months later, I sent Dara an email to check in since she was new to Los Angeles. I invited her to a show at Comedy Store and she brought her co-worker Karman Kregloe. Unbeknownst me to me they were looking for a substitute vlogger for their hit show We're Getting Nowhere. Their co-star was going out of town and they needed someone to fill up the couch space. Our episode was so well received that Sarah Warn took notice and asked me to pitch my own show, resulting in the birth of Brunch with Bridget. What could be better than girls in bed with teddy bears and pillow fights?
How did you and your teddy bear co-host Baby Bridget meet?
We met on Craigslist in the Women Seeking Teddy Bear section. Actually, Baby Bridget was my gift to myself for my birthday last year. I was going through a very difficult transition in my life and spent a lot of time soul searching. Baby Bridget was my little companion through my crying fits. Wow! Now I feel like a nut job—ummm—I mean I don't talk to stuffed animals. Honestly, I don't!
Who has been your favorite Brunch with Bridget guest so far?
That's tricky because I LOVE all my guests and I was very lucky that they were all willing to play with me in their pajamas for all the world to see. If I had to pick a "favorite" then it would be a tie between Elizabeth Keener from The L Word and Sarah Warn, founder of AfterEllen.com. Keener was a nut job, who kept removing her clothing for no reason at all, while Sarah pretended to beat me to death with a shovel as I acted like a frightened chicken named "Cocky". It was a real event that happened to Sarah growing up and another reason why I'm a vegetarian.