Comedian Rachel Dratch Plays Not My Job

Apr 7, 2012
Originally published on April 7, 2012 11:23 am

Rachel Dratch was one of the stars of Saturday Night Live from 1999 to 2006. She was hilarious, and then she left the show. What happened then? Well, she got so tired of answering that question she wrote a whole book about it, called Girl Walks Into a Bar.

This month marks the 100th anniversary voyage of the Titanic, so we'll ask Dratch three questions about the James Cameron movie inspired by that historical tragedy.

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And now, the game where we ask interesting people about things that do not interest them. Rachel Dratch was one of the stars of "Saturday Night Live" from 1999 to 2006. She was hilarious and great and funny and then she left the show and what happened then?

Well, Rachel got so tired of answering that question, she wrote a whole book about it. She joins us now. Rachel Dratch, welcome to WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!



SAGAL: So I want to talk to you about "Saturday Night Live." You were on the show, you were hilarious and great. And you, among many other things, you had the most expressive and comedic face I think I've ever seen. You could get laughs just with the facial expression.

DRATCH: Oh, thank you.

SAGAL: I mean like there's the sketch you do where you're eating a chocolate dessert that is remarkable. That is...

DRATCH: Chocolate Vesuvius.

SAGAL: The chocolate Vesuvius, which is pretty crazy. Is that something you learned when you were, like, growing as a comedian to do like, just...

DRATCH: No, I think that's just like just a natural thing. It's weird to talk about facial expressions when I'm not even there, so it's just like weird.


SAGAL: Here, do a funny one for us now, we'll see if we can tell.


DRATCH: Hilarious.

SAGAL: Let me ask you about some of the characters you did on the show. I loved Denise, your Bostonian, because I spent some time in Boston.

DRATCH: Oh, thank you, yeah.

SAGAL: And one of your characters was Debbie Downer.


DRATCH: Yeah, that's like the one I get the most - people come up to me and they're like "oh, my boss is like that" or "my sister's like that" or whatever. But yeah...


DRATCH: We cracked up so hard in that initial scene that I think that like is etched in people's minds.

SAGAL: Let me ask you about, you talk in your book about the difficultly you've had getting cast...


SAGAL: roles.


SAGAL: You say the only roles you get called for are secretaries, lesbians and secretaries who are lesbians.


DRATCH: Exactly. Well that's very true.

SAGAL: So what...

DRATCH: I mean it was - I don't know what it is, but it was almost like a joke. Like every script that would come my way, which by the way, don't get me wrong, it was like once every three months or something, but like, it was always a lesbian, often obese and usually over the age of 60. Like I don't know what it was...


DRATCH: It's Hollywood, I guess.

SAGAL: How does that work, because you are neither a lesbian, obese or over 60?

DRATCH: I know, I'm not quite sure, but that's just how whatever, I don't know. I don't know, it's kind of a mystery to me. But after a while, I just kind of gave up trying to figure it out. I'm like definitely a character part. I play a lot of like low status people. So I don't know.


DRATCH: Like, I say this in the book, I sort of thought like, oh maybe I'd play the wacky friend. Then I discovered like I'm a little too odd to even be the wacky friend.


DRATCH: So that's I'm like - instead I'm like the weird secretary, which actually I'm fine with that...

SAGAL: Wait a minute...

DRATCH: I'm fine with the lesbian thing. I'm not into like playing some who's like 65 and obese because that's not what I think I look like, but whatever.

ROY BLOUNT JR.: It's a stretch, come on.


ADAM FELBER: Maybe you should do a one-woman show in which you are an older obese lesbian secretary.

DRATCH: Yeah, you know what, that's actually a pretty good idea. Beat them at their own game, yes.


SAGAL: Exactly. You say, your new book, "Girl Walks Into a Bar," as a memoir. It's based on questions people kept asking you in the street after you left "SNL." So what were some of those questions?

DRATCH: Well, actually, that's kind of a small part of the book. It actually started because I wasn't really getting any jobs after "SNL," so I had all this time on my hands. And then I thought like, OK, maybe I should write up - if something funny happens to me, I should write it up as a little story.

And so then I had this little stack of stories and then eventually I got a crazy sort of life plot twist that provided a twist for the whole book. But the initial stories were kind of like, you know, bad dates and stuff I was doing instead of acting. But then about a year later at almost age 44, I, by surprise, got pregnant. And so then that provided a whole kind of direction for the book.

SAGAL: When you say by surprise...

DRATCH: By surprise, I knew...


SAGAL: Do you have any idea how that happened or was it...


SAGAL: In your book, you talk a lot about the dates you went on. Can you tell us about some of them?

DRATCH: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, one guy just blew me off really hard. He said he was also really into eating horse meat, that's the sidebar.


SAGAL: Wait a minute. He blew you off and told you, says I don't want to see you anymore...

DRATCH: No, before...

SAGAL: I'm going to be busy eating a horse.


DRATCH: No, no, no.

SAGAL: What?

DRATCH: He was really into horse meat and then later he blew me off.


DRATCH: So, yeah. Anyway, that's about the time I...

FELBER: So he thought the horse meat was a selling point?


DRATCH: Exactly.

SAGAL: So anyway, so that was guy number one.

DRATCH: I don't know if the dates are really like worth going into.

SAGAL: Oh they are.


SAGAL: All right, so already you had the rude horse meat guy. Who was next?

DRATCH: The second guy was - well this is kind of typical but he was gay.


DRATCH: And then the third guy, the third guy...

SAGAL: Hold on, how did you find out he was gay.

FELBER: And give us time to make a horse meat joke here.


SAGAL: All right, so you find out - that's not good. I'm sure he's very nice otherwise.

DRATCH: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

SAGAL: But then the third guy?

DRATCH: The third guy had a baby. And I guess he wasn't really asking me out, but I thought he was and then I found out he really wasn't at all, you know.

FELBER: Those are terrible dates.

JR.: I know. That really is a high incidence, a high ratio of pregnancy to dates.

SAGAL: Dating, yeah.


SAGAL: Well, wait a minute. I think we need to go back to that, because you had these three disastrous dates and you ended up pregnant. And I took seventh grade health. I know that there's something missing here.


DRATCH: Well, what's missing is the guy. The girl walks into a bar, title words, and eventually I walked into a bar - by the way, it didn't happen that night, because I don't want people to think that.


SAGAL: Oh, I see. So you don't want to say - you didn't walk in the bar and had a baby that night.

DRATCH: Yeah, I didn't get pregnant when I walked in the bar.

SAGAL: All right.

DRATCH: But no, I started dating this guy long distance for six months and then I found out I was pregnant.


DRATCH: And it was quite the crazy scenario.

FELBER: You got pregnant long distance?

SAGAL: That's amazing.

DRATCH: Yeah, that's the most amazing part. That's the crazy part.

SAGAL: From now on, I am totally using a headset. I am not holding the phone...


SAGAL: ...up to my ear if that's a danger.


SAGAL: I've never been successful in meeting anybody romantically in a bar, my whole life...

DRATCH: Well, me neither, that's why I don't want to give anyone hope.

SAGAL: All right.


SAGAL: So I'm curious, I mean you clearly are not, as what they say a player.

DRATCH: No, no.

SAGAL: So I'm curious as to what you did to meet, apparently, a very nice guy you wanted to keep around, in a bar.

DRATCH: I don't know. I mean I can't give advice on this.

SAGAL: Really? Because there are a lot of listeners who probably would like to, you know, meet somebody and get them pregnant long distance.


SAGAL: And have that power, you can't help?

JR.: Was it a land line or I mean...


SAGAL: Well, Rachel Dratch, we're delighted to have you with us. And we've asked you here today to play a game we're calling?

CARL KASELL: Let's rearrange those deck chairs.

SAGAL: This month marks the...

DRATCH: Oh boy.

SAGAL: ...100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. So we thought we'd ask you three questions about the James Cameron movie which inspired that historical tragedy.


DRATCH: Oh my god.


SAGAL: Answer two right, you'll win our prize for our listener, Carl's voice on their voicemail. Carl, who is Rachel Dratch playing for?

KASELL: Rachel is playing for Carla Schuster of Marietta, Georgia.


SAGAL: First question, according to James Horner, the film's composer, an early rough cut of the movie that he got to see was different from the final film. How? Was it A: the whole Leo and Kate romance was a subplot, to the main story about the adventures of spunky Kathy Bates on the ship?


SAGAL: B: the movie was 36 hours long?


SAGAL: Or C: at the end, the whole thing turned out to be a dream?

DRATCH: All right, I'm going to guess A.

SAGAL: You're going to guess A that the Leo and Kate romance was initially a subplot in their rough cut.

DRATCH: That sounds like a really bad guess, doesn't it? But the other two, I can't imagine those either.

ROXANNE ROBERTS: Well think about them.

FELBER: Yeah, the whole thing being a dream, I mean the boat then wakes up in bed with Suzanne Pleshette...


SAGAL: You're not going to believe this, it says.

DRATCH: And the second one was that it was 36 hours long, the rough cut?

SAGAL: Yes. Yes.

DRATCH: I'm going to go with A. I don't know, that was my first...

SAGAL: You're going to with A. Well it was in fact B. The rough cut was 36 hours long.

DRATCH: Oh, that was my second choice.

SAGAL: I know.

DRATCH: That was B.

SAGAL: According to James Horner.


SAGAL: But 14 hours of that was just Celine Dion singing.


SAGAL: Next question. Star Kate Winslet was interviewed recently on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the sinking. And she says she has a problem with the movie. What? She says A: whenever she hears the film's love theme, "My Heart Will Go On," by Celine Dion, she feels like, quote, barfing?


SAGAL: B: she says years later she still can't take a bath without suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome?


SAGAL: Or C: now that she's older and been around a bit, she says she thinks her character should have stayed with Billy Zane because he was stable and had a good income.


DRATCH: This one is A, because I think I heard her say that.

SAGAL: You're right, it was A.



SAGAL: She says she cannot stand the song "My Heart Will Go On."


SAGAL: She says people play the song for her all the time and she says, quote, "I just have to sit there, you know, kind of straight faced with a massive internal eye roll."



SAGAL: All right, this is good. You're one for two, with one to go. Get this one right and you'll win.


SAGAL: For the re-release in 3-D, James Cameron, despite his temptation to mess with it, says he's changed only one detail of in the movie. Which is it? A: he changed the stars in the sky above the ship to make them astronomically accurate? B: instead of Celine Dion singing "My Heart Will Go On," now in the credits you hear Katy Perry's "Hot and Cold."


SAGAL: Or C: instead of throwing the priceless diamond into the ocean at the very end, the old Rose clutches it to her chest and shouts, "Mine! Mine!"


DRATCH: OK. This must be A, the constellation.

SAGAL: Yes, you're right.



SAGAL: He did do that. Cameron says he was responding to a complaint from the astronomer Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and he changed the stars to what would have been really visible on that date from the North Atlantic.


SAGAL: Yeah. Carl, how did Rachel do?

KASELL: Rachel had two correct answers, Peter, so that means she wins for Carla Schuster.


DRATCH: All right.

SAGAL: Well done, Rachel. Congratulations.

DRATCH: Wow. I'm excited. Thank you.

SAGAL: Thank you. It was great to have you. Rachel Dratch is a veteran of "Saturday Night Live" and author of the new book, "Girl Walks Into a Bar: Comedy Calamities, Dating Disasters and a Midlife Miracle." Rachel Dratch, thank you so much for joining us.

DRATCH: Thank you.


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