Mary Birdsong
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  • October2nd

    Mary Birdsong plays Fionnula Sears in Episode 7 of The Knick.

    Got GILF?



    In case you saw me in episode seven of The Knick this week (“Get The Rope!”) I feel it my womanly duty to post the photo on the left… as a reminder to Hollywood that I’m not an ACTUAL drunk, racist, Irish grandma named Fionnula Sears- but I still like being in her skin. #ewthatsoundedcreepy!  This series really is one of the best things I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of.

    But in Slant magazine‘s recap  of the episode, I’m not sure whether to be flattered or insulted by Steve MacFarlane’s review:

    As ambulance driver Cleary (Chris Sullivan) strategically keeps the crowd at bay, Sears’s mother (Mary Birdsong) clamors into the Knick, where her son barely continues to breathe.  Drunk, spiteful, and filled with colorful colloquialisms, Fionella Sears is almost too extreme a character to exist within Soderbergh’s fragile ecosystem of class and race pressures. Both funny and genuinely unpredictable, she commands attention whenever she’s on screen, with elder cops and little Irish boys standing at her beck and call.

    She offhandedly tells the Knick’s staff that Phinny’s “got more pluck in the little finger than all of ye have got in all your sorry souls,” and the cops all take a swig of whiskey in solidarity, but it feels facile. Phinny dies, and she incites the crowd to “hang every one of them black bastards. Take down every one of ‘em fuckin’ darkies. Rip their throats and grind their eyes down to jelly! Make ‘em pay for what they done to my Phinny!” To which men in the crowd immediately comply, tackling and beating random black passersby at a moment’s notice. Maybe this is how it really went down in 1900, but the randomly plucked characters and easy incitement feel more like a complex story is being told in a cheap amount of time.”

    (Pssst…. Hey, Steve? Mr. MacFarlane? Her first name is spelled “Fionnula” (not Fionella), but don’t worry, she’ll probably be too drunk to notice.)

    And here’s a great review of the show by a critic who didn’t like it at first, but is newly converted! Read Emily Nussbaum’s thoughtful addendum to her initial misgivings in The New Yorker.  I, for one, greatly respect a critic thoughtful enough to occasionally don her flip-flops and reverse a decision made too hastily.

    (And hey before we part ways in this intimate bloggy space, do this GILF a solid by telling the folks in the Cinemax suits you want more Fionnula Sears shenanigans on season two of  The Knick. Go to their Facebook page here, or tweet at ‘em here.  And check out their page on Cinemax’s website here.)

    As Fionnula would say: TANX, LUV!

  • October2nd

    Patients’ Symptoms Raise Concern About Ebola in New York –

    America- We're super chill.

    America- We’re super chill. Unless you’re Mexican…ish.

    Why is America so super chill about people being brought onto US soil from Ebola-riddled areas in Africa (who could possibly spread the deadly virus here), yet is all freaky-pants cray-cray when we’re asked to give refuge to a bunch of little Latin American kids fleeing crack dealers (who stalk them in the school system and will rape them if they don’t sell drugs)?

    I don’t get it.  But maybe that’s why myyyyyy face isn’t the one gracing Lady Liberty’s smoking’ hot bod in New York Harbor.

    Of course- I think we SHOULD grant entry in both cases, but it just strikes me as funny how, as a country, American histrionics aren’t consistent when it comes to our borders and who we let cross them.  It’s just the Mexican* thing that gets our citizens (literally) up in arms.

    I think it’s because illegal crossing of the Mexican border is so easy to understand.  It’s easy to visualize school bus after school bus vomiting out streams of little illegal immigrant invaders– diaper-clad drug lords sucking on their juice boxes and waving their M-16s.  But it’s much more difficult to imagine some virus running around taking our jobs.

    * The latest hot-button “border bunch” isn’t technically from Mexico, of course. They’re from other countries that are kinda LIKE Mexico.  They’reMexic-ish: Honduras, Guatemala… places like that that. But, we’re American, and we don’t really care.   So let’s just call them Mexican.

  • September21st

    MEAT & OKRA…      & MEETIN’ OPRAH!

    (Because okra’s gross.  But Oprah’s not. And if ANYONE can give this slimy, Cajun-cooked freak a TV-ready makeover, it’s Oprah.  Here’s my killer idea for the world’s worst cooking show.)

    There's okra. There's Oprah.  And you get to meet them both!

    There’s okra. And there’s Oprah. And you’d get to meet both!


    It’s perfect for the FOOD NETWORK (or O.W.N. - not sure which).  Maybe it’ll be one of those new-fangled shows that are simulcast on two channels at once! Okay, so the concept is simple- Every episode, a Southern lady would makes a dish that includes  meat, and a mushy, slimy vegetable that creeps me out (aka OKRA). Then Oprah comes out and eats it. Come on- it writes itself!  Seriously, I really do hate okra, unless it’s in a gumbo or something, but this  recipe for Ground Beef Chili with Stir-Fried Okra actually looks pretty good, and is very healthy. This nice lady at seems to like okra a lot, so maybe I should re-think…

    …those slimy little sci-fi lookin’ green sumbitches!  Aaaaaghhhhhh!!!!! 

    This is Capt Kirk on planet okra- do you read me?

    (Photo of Oprah, sans her adorbs okra accessories, courtesy of rolling

  • September16th

    Come to Sit n Spin this Thursday @Comedy Central Stage.

    (I’m telling a story that includes two grown-up black dudes named Bunny and Lambchop.)

    and it’s freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

    Weeeee! (will be expecting you)!
    Weeeee (will be expecting you)!


    All shows start at 8pm at The Hudson Theater in Hollywood

    Limited seating, so be sure to call (323) 960-5519 for reservations.

  • September5th

    I was lucky enough to get to meet Joan Rivers once.  In a little club in NYC. Here’s how it went:  

    This actually happened.

    And before that I even got to share a stage with her- at New York City’s “Town Hall,” though I doubt we even spoke to each other the night at Town Hall. Benefits by their nature are always chaotic, and this one was no exception.  There must have been at least ten drag performers, and… let me put it this way: Wallace Shawn played the butler.  Okrrrr?

    Wallace Shawn as "Dreggs" in Screen Door.

    Wallace Shawn in Screen Door.

    The Divine Charles Busch

    The Divine Charles Busch

    Between the feathers, the false eyelashes, the wigs, and God knows WHAT else we were contending with that night, it’s a miracle someone snapped a picture of Joan and me together. (I so regret that they didn’t get Charles Busch in this photo, though. He was one of the stars of the show, and he remains one of my big influences, right up there with Joan – a brilliant & hilarious man.)


    From TWEED’s “Screen Door”- a benefit at NYC’s Town Hall, for God’s Love We Deliver. (front, l. to r.) Me as Judy Garland, Blaine Trump, Joan Rivers, and Sheila McRae. (back) The brilliant Kevin Joseph, as his drag creation “Flotilla DeBarge.”

    At the time of my appearance on Conen O’Brien (see video below), I was performing in my first Broadway show with another great comic legend, Martin Short. I played many different characters, including Joan Rivers.  I taped this interview in between performances of that Broadway run.  And now I think I know why they call it a “run.”

    Because on a two-show day, the moment I got my costume & wig off from the matinee performance, I was literally RUNNING, on foot, to Rockefeller Center (where Conen taped) from the theater (on 48th street I think). I got back just in time for that evening’s performance. I was in my 30s. But that little DIY, “heart stress-test” didn’t even come close to the kind of energy Joan Rivers was STILL putting out in her 80s.

    By giving us allllll of HERSELF on stage (especially the nasty bits, which were some of her best) she gave a lot of people (women especially) the courage and the permission to be all of OURSELVES- both on stage and off.  And of course… as is often the case with performers who play “mean and nasty” so well ON stage, she was very warm and very sweet OFF stage.

    Thank you from the bottom of our nasty hearts, Joan Rivers, for all you gave. And gave. And gave…

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