For the record, she’ll be rooting for the New England Patriots. But before Paula Abdul, 42, can relax at Sunday’s big game against the Philadelphia Eagles, she’ll play host to the winner of Ameriquest Mortgage’s halftime sneak preview contest in Jacksonville, where Paul McCartney will perform. PEOPLE recently caught up with the football-loving American Idol judge and quizzed her about that other ratings juggernaut: her FOX reality show.
If you were to try out for Idol, how would you do?
I’m glad I don’t have to. … It’s grueling. It’s like taking master’s classes in singing and performing. It’s unbelievable the amount of pressure that is put on these contestants – emotionally, artistically – it’s immense.
How would you deal with Simon?
Simon represents the disapproving dad, I represent the nurturing mom, and Randy is just the cool brother to have, and we are part of America’s cultural dysfunctional family. And if you look at it that way, that’s what makes the show very successful. I keep the dream alive, Simon will crush that, and Randy’s the perfect middleman.
But if Simon criticized you …?
I would have to remind Simon, “What instrument is it that you know how to play?”
What song would you sing for tryouts?
I would never pick a song because it might be that judge’s favorite, or a song that would compare me to any other artist. You pick a song first and foremost that gives you the best shot at sounding your best, that allows you to hit tender high notes and rich low notes.
Do the judges hang out together off the set?
We do sometimes, but I try not to be anywhere near the antics of male-bonding night and, like, not to be around for the wrap-up, (the) “let’s re-enact what happened the night before.” I like to wear a dress on occasion to remind them that I am still of the female gender and I don’t need to hear it.
But you all get along?
Simon and Randy can sometimes forget that I’m not the brother. Sometimes I have to look between my legs and make sure I’m not growing something in between to remind myself. But I wouldn’t take it any other way. I absolutely love those guys.
Finally, we have to know: What’s your personal crowning sports moment?
My best friend (and I), we were junior high school and high school paddle-tennis champions. … She always provided comic relief to the point where she never felt like she succeeded unless she made me pee in my pants. And all I remember is, we’d win and I’d pee in my pants because she’d make me laugh so hard.