Bridget McManus gets physical on “The Queen Latifah Show”

In late 2007, I saw a stand-up comic on the internet and thought she was outrageous and outrageously funny. I knew I wanted to interview her for an article I was working on called, “Five Lesbian Comics You May Not Know but Should.” That was seven years ago and Bridget McManus has since become an AfterEllen staple – creator and star of the Logo TV show Brunch with Bridget, Grey’s Anatomy recapper, Afternoon Delight columnist, among others – but more importantly, she’s become one of my closest friends. Oh, and she married one of my other closest friends, Karman Kregloe, who is also the Editor-in-Chief here, and the one who gave me my first writing job. It’s a whole, big, incestuous ball of lesbian awesome.

Because of all that and much more, I could not be happier that Bridget McManus is now enjoying much deserved recognition and full-time employment as an on-air talent and warm-up comic on The Queen Latifah Show. I called her to talk about how it all came to be, why Queen Latifah‘s set pillows should fear her, and how she went from doing stand-up in back of a video store to being on network television every day.

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AfterEllen: Hey, you.
Bridget McManus: Hi weirdo.

AE: You’re a weirdo. You’re also a successful weirdo.
BM: Thanks. So are you.

AE: No, I’m not. You’re the rising star on The Queen Latifah Show.
BM: That’s very sweet. I’m very lucky to have a job on the show… [long pause] Can we start again? I have to get this dog off me.

AE: What is happening over there? Doesn’t Francine know I’m trying to interview you for the first time in years?
BM: I know! I haven’t talked to you in an interview since 2007.

AE: I recently learned that was your first interview. I didn’t know that.
BM: You took my interview virginity, Dara.

AE: As I am known to do. And now, you’re the hottest commodity on The Queen Latifah Show! How did you end up with such a sweet gig and how does it feel to have it?
BM: I love working on The Queen Latifah Show. How I got there was, I worked on The Jeff Probst Show, the host of Survivor, as their warm-up comic. When that show wasn’t renewed, its producers went over to The Queen Latifah Show. And when Queen Latifah started shooting, they called me in to audition for the warm-up comic job. It was me and a bunch of guys. So I went in, they liked me, and they called me back. I became the show’s warm-up in September and I’ve been playing over there ever since.

AE: I love that you beat out a whole bunch of dudes. You’re basically Queen Latifah’s sidekick now. I think that makes you a princess. Or court jester? But wait, weren’t you the DJ for a hot second?
BM: It was supposed to be funny, that I was DJ for the day but I don’t have any actual DJ skills. We have a real DJ named Hunter that works on the show. I just love him. He’s fantastic.

AE: I’ve been to the show taping, twice.
BM: You’re a super fan.

AE: Listen, I need to come back when you’re doing a give-away. I want a flat screen TV and a copy of Herbie Hancock’s new autobiography. When are the big-ticket items being given away, so I can clear my schedule?
BM: We’re giving away dream vacations in February. We just gave away a $5,000 vacation to Hawaii. And we gave a Costa Rican vacation to a 93-year-old woman. She was so overwhelmed. It was the sweetest thing.

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AE: Aww. I hope she sends you pictures of herself on a zip line. Hey, speaking of being at the tapings: You are a total maniac when you’re working. You never stop moving, never stop dancing, never stop playing with the audience. You keep the energy up, for hours. How you do it every day?
BM: [laughs] Well, that’s my job. I’ve been in enough TV audiences myself, and you get bored sitting for hours. So, when I come out to work, I go back to my All-American cheerleading roots.

My warm-up is different from other warm-up comics. Instead of an “act,” I’m very physical with the audience. Because people want to play, and dance and have fun. Queen Latifah will come out and take selfies, we give away T-shirts. I will find the couple who’s been married the longest and force them to get up and dance with each other and the audience always cheers. I feel like I’m at a party every day. And then, I get home and crash.

AE: Didn’t they recently try to calculate how many calories you burn every show?
BM: They did! They put a little calorie counter on me. I burn 4000 calories a day. And sometimes, we shoot two shows a day. I should be really thin. [laughs] I also use a lot of deodorant at work.

AE: Queen Latifah seems to be very enamored with your antics. She loves when you do splits, as we all do.
BM: Well, I’m usually in a dress, but I’ll do splits in a dress. Note, doing a split is just weird. It’s something that children do. So, when I do it, especially in a dress, people say, “What’s wrong with this person?”

Queen Latifah wanted to show the audience at home what happens in the studio before taping. So, I was dancing with her, doing The Running Man, and I thought it would be funny to do a split. But of course, we’re on TV, so just in case, I grabbed a pillow to cover my crotch — as ladies do. And then, I got up, put the pillow back on her couch, and ran back to my little DJ station. She said, “I cannot believe you put the pillow back!”

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AE: I love this story.
BM: Then, we had Florence Henderson on the show recently. Mrs. Brady! Florence said I needed–

AE: Xanax?
BM: [laughs] Yes! But she also asked me to do a split. So I went down on stage, (I was wearing a dress again), I grabbed a pillow, did the split, and put the pillow back, again. Florence said, “Why would you put the pillow back?” Pillows are not safe around me.

For the Christmas episode, I sewed Queen Latifah a Frosty the Snowman pillow. And an audience member recently made me a pillow too! I think she did it so I would stop abusing Queen Latifah’s pillows.

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