You may know Rachel Dratch as Saturday Night Live (SNL) characters Debbie Downer or Zazu, the female component in The Boston Couple sketches alongside Jimmy Fallon. Or maybe you know her as a main stage Second City actor or from her two-woman show, Dratch & Fey, with someone named Tina Fey. If you still don’t know who she is, then I want to know what rock you lived under in the early to mid 2000s. My rock was called Waco, and, yes, we got NBC there. Although Dratch has not been inactive in the comedy community, in Girl Walks into a Bar (2012) Dratch tells us that the most prevalent FAQ that’s thrown her way is, “What happened to you?!” As well as talking about her childhood, how she broke into the comedy world, and an “Unofficial Guide to Being on SNL,” Dratch talks about falling into fame obscurity. She follows up this discussion about how she is only offered roles as “The Unf@#!ables” and the reasons why. The rest of the story is about being a single woman in New York City, calling to mind how possibly insane Sex and the City is.
I liked Girl Walks into a Bar, because she earnestly tells us what it is like to fail and then try again. She twice tried out for Second City classes and auditioned for SNL. Dratch concludes that the second time is the charm and dubs herself “Ol’ Two Time Dratch.” She is a wonderful example of working hard and being persistent to get where you want to be in life—something that many people need to be reminded of. However, Dratch admits that she does not have it all figured out, rarely doles out advice, and constantly wonders how the universe works. “Universe!” My favorite chapter is “Body by Shtetl,” which any woman of Eastern European descent can appreciate.
I’ll admit that if you don’t want to hear about relationships or babies, you might not like the last half of the book (I would never advocate reading only part of a book that isn’t poetry, essays, short stories, or a textbook, so read it all or not at all. Seriously.). I do think that anyone who is struggling with his or her life goals would enjoy this book. It is not a self-help book, but a story of a woman living her life and overcoming obstacles.
Because I am fairly new to improv, my favorite quote from Girl Walks into a Bar, of course, has to do with improv:
“How did I think of that?” I wondered. I didn't feel like I had thought of it. It's a sort of flow that happens when you are completely in the moment and not getting in your own way. Not trying so hard, not planning ahead, just getting out of your own head and letting the magic happen. You could apply this to any activity, of course. You could apply it to life.
Thumbs up, ma’am. Thumbs up.
Leslie Michaels is currently a Level 2 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She spends her spare time riding her bicycle, playing Ultimate Frisbee, or hanging out with her boyfriend, Netflix. She still questions whether she’s a dog person or a cat person.