BWW Interviews: Daisy Eagan - Tweeting and Singing
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by Jena Tesse Fox
It all started with a tweet.
Well, actually, no, it didn’t. It all started when Daisy Eagan, the youngest female Tony-winner ever, decided to get back into show business after several years away, and documented her return through Twitter. It ends on Monday night, when she premiers her new cabaret show at Joe’s Pub, gleefully entitled “Daisy Eagan: Fuck Off, I Love You.”
After several cabaret performances and a run in off-Broadway’s Love, Loss and What I Wore, Eagan decided to do a cabaret show themed around her birth year. “I looked at the songs from 1979 and said, ‘Meh,’” she recalls.
And while she searched for a cabaret theme, she also searched for a temp job. And that’s where the tweet came in. In late July, she submitted a quip to her Twitter account: “I have a job interview tomorrow for a temp job packaging human breast milk. I also have a Tony award.”
The tweet generated a rapid—and somewhat surprising—response from the theater community. Much of it was positive and supportive. Some of it was negative and derogatory. All of it was surprisingly passionate. “It changed the game and got me new attention,” she recalls. “People enjoyed what I had to say. It was different from what I was expecting… A couple months before that, somebody who described himself as musical theater fan tweeted that I was the most disagreeable person on Twitter. I replied, ‘I disagree.’ He didn’t find that amusing and un-friended me. That was the response I was expecting [from the tweet].”
But the reaction did impart an important message to Eagan: “I thought I was making people uncomfortable,” she says of her public persona, noting that she had even created an anonymous Twitter handle to share her thoughts without sharing her identity. “I thought I was protecting my career by not being me, and it suddenly occurred to me that I didn’t know what career I would have if I wasn’t being myself—if any career at all. So I threw caution to the wind and decided to be who I am.”
There was an immediate effect: It took Eagan three years to get to 1,000 followers on Twitter. “I doubled that in the three days after that tweet,” she says. “It was a game-changer.” After the tweet tripled her Twitter audience, she found TV comedy writers (“Which is a job I’d love to have,” she adds) and other celebrities taking notice of her humor, and taking interest in her career. “I don’t know where it’s gonna lead, but so far I’m along for the ride,” she says with a wry laugh. “And some people will think I’m crass—last night I made an abortion joke and I’m sure I offended people—but that’s who I am. Jackie Hoffman has a similar sense of humor, so I’m not the only one out there. It’s easier for men to be crass and blue and get away with it. With women, it makes people uncomfortable. But if it is who I am, it’s who I have to be. Fuck ’em f they can’t take a joke.”
And then there’s the show’s title, which would probably not be approved for many marquees. “I was a little worried about the title,” she admits. On the other hand: “I’m not doing a pretty concert. I am reintroducing myself as an almost-33-year-old who says ‘fuck.’ It also speaks to my relationship with the industry and myself and with my audience.”
The show was a collaborative effort among Eagan and friends who helped her choose the songs she would sing. “I’d email them and ask for a song that says something about being one step behind in life, and they would send suggestions,” she says. “As the script started to develop, I’d find places for songs based on sentiment.” Others she chose just because she liked them. “I knew I wanted to sing some Harold Arlen. I made that work.”
Now that she’s done several cabarets, Eagan says she’d like to do more in that vein. Also, she would like to tour again. “There are some major cities I’d like to visit,” she says, then quickly adds, “Not Detroit. Never again.” This particular show will be more of a workshop, she continues—“Certainly a finished-ish product,” she laughs, “but also a work in progress. It will have a life beyond this, and it will grow. I’d love to do a show about the survival jobs I’ve had—like customer service for a psychic hotline. I’ve had some doozy jobs. And I’m really getting into the idea of doing standup comedy…I do tell jokes and riff and I like the idea of developing an act with songs. It could definitely be fun.”