Post Mortems

The Masked Singer's Penguin on How Beyoncé Inspired Her Eagle Attack and How Lizzo Taught Her the Truth Hurts

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Wednesday’s The Masked Singer.

If you thought The Masked Singer‘s Penguin was on fire in her smackdown round against Eagle a few episodes back, you don’t know how right you were.

The black-and-white bird’s impassioned performance of Fifth Harmony’s “I’m Worth It” led to her victory that night — Eagle wound up unmasked and revealed as Dr. Drew Pinsky — but rising temperatures inside the custom-made costume also nearly took her out.

“When I did the dancing for my life, it was so much work, and I was out of breath,” says the Penguin, who was revealed in Wednesday’s episode to be former View co-host Sherri Shepherd. (Read the full episode recap here.) “I literally felt like I was going to pass out… But I think it was because my adrenaline was going. Because I’m not a singer. I didn’t even know you had to breathe when you sing! Half the time, I was holding my breath.”

TVLine chatted with Shepherd about her time on the show — and why when it came to a Lizzo song, the truth really hurt.

TVLINE | You had the smackdown against the Eagle, whom we now know is Dr. Drew Pinsky. Afterwards, he told us that he didn’t know who the Penguin was, but that she was aggressive.
[Laughs] Here’s the thing: I couldn’t see where I was at. All I could see was the Eagle’s feet. And I did a kick that I thought Beyonce did at Coachella. I guess she didn’t. But I thought that she did. I didn’t know I almost kicked the Eagle in the chest. Because I couldn’t see. And I was so aggressive because I wanted to stay! It was either me or the Eagle, you know? Bird-on-bird! I knew I wanted to be the bird that stayed. And I was like, “Damn it if anybody knows I’m Sherri. I don’t care. I’m going to drop it like it’s hot and twerk my ass off, because I don’t want to leave!”

TVLINE | And you were successful.
They had me, right at the end, I said I’m going to pass out. Everything in me was shaking because it was so much exertion. And this mask — you start feeling claustrophobic. That’s what it is. I said you’ve gotta take it off. They sat me down and took it off and I said Oh my God. I’ve never loved fresh air more.

TVLINE | Even last season, Jenny thought you were on the show. What came first: Your desire to be involved, or her suggestion that you might already be involved?
It was literally her suggestion, because I was watching with [my son] Jeffrey [during Season 1] and I saw my face pop up, because she thought it was me. I said it’s not me. I was texting Jenny going, “That’s not me!” She was like, “Yeah, right.” I thought it was so much fun, because I loved that I could watch the show with my son. And then when they asked me, I was at some fancy-schmancy dinner, and I screamed. Because I was so excited. Then I realized, “Oh my gosh, do they know I can’t sing?” I look like a gospel singer, but I’m not. I do look like I can sing, but I can’t. I am a professional karaoke-r.

TVLINE | I wouldn’t say you can’t sing, but you’re not a professional singer.
You ain’t got to say it. I said it!

TVLINE | So how do you prepare for something like this when you have no singing background?
There was a lot of prayer. I started out wanting to do Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts.” They had me with a vocal coach who was amazing. And I started singing that daggone “Truth Hurts” and trying to dance, and I said, “Oh yeah, we ain’t going to be able to do this,” because you’ve really gotta breathe. I said I don’t understand how Lizzo does it naked, twerking, playing the flute and is able to do this. That’s when I realized: Whatever gift you have, you’ve got the other gifts that go along with it. Lizzo is a singer, so she knows how to breathe. I’m a comic. I don’t have to breathe on stage. I put you out of breath, laughing.

TVLINE | Let’s talk for a minute about some of the clues in your package. There are mentions of “the new adventures of old Penguin” and how you never “curbed my enthusiasm.” You haven’t been on those shows!
Being on TV. Being on sitcoms. I even said, “I was with many presidents.” Being on The View. Interviewing people who were running for president. You skirt the edge of a clue, because you don’t want them to guess. That was all about, just, TV.

TVLINE | What was better: Your worst day on The View or your best day on The Masked Singer?
[Laughs] They’re so different! On The Masked Singer, I don’t have five other people in my ear, screaming at me. I don’t have Barbara Walters in my ear when I’m singing, going, “What are you doing, dear?”