Rachel Dratch | Interview
The SNL alum discusses career and motherhood in a new memoir.
The miracle of life in Girl Walks into a Bar…, the new memoir by former Second City, SNL and 30 Rock alum Rachel Dratch, isn’t the unexpected baby boy Dratch gives birth to at age 44. Rather, it’s that Dratch (with the help of co-parent John Wahl) finds her own purpose in life by embracing motherhood over the stereotypical and milquetoast roles being offered by Hollywood. Dratch spoke via telephone about her sometimes touching, sometimes lightweight and always honest new book.
What is your son Eli doing today?
Typical good things. He’s walking around, dancing around, running and knows a few words.
You talk about a lot of things in this book. Which was the most exciting to put on paper?
Maybe the career stuff? Instead of me burying my head in the sand and being like, ‘La, la, la, it’s all going great,’ just saying, Okay, this isn’t going as I planned.
Did you debate sharing any of your personal stories in particular?
Yeah, especially now that I’m doing interviews and everybody’s like, ‘Wow, your book is so revealing.’ I felt like I had to be honest about everything, or what’s the point? There’s definitely things like—I don’t want to bring it up and give it more press, but the whole surprise nature of the pregnancy feels personal, still. But if I don’t share it, what’s the ‘big miracle’ I’m talking about? …Now that’s it’s going out into the world, I definitely feel kind of naked.
Are people surprised to learn that you’re quite shy and private?
When I was a kid, I was super shy. That’s probably why I like doing characters on SNL and at the Second City, but I always sort of dread when I have to host something or go on [stage] as myself.
In the book, you talk about being typecast. What’s a dream role you have?
I do like the big, crazy sketch stuff, so it’s not like I’m against playing odd ducks. It’s more about the limiting nature of the sketch world.…I definitely don’t want to do drama. I’m not looking to branch out into that world. I feel much more comfortable in comedy. I don’t know if I answered your question.
Your Second City days were a time when amazing women such as yourself, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Amy Sedaris took center stage in Chicago’s comedy scene. Did that feel significant to you at the time?
It actually didn’t but, looking back, [while] I did feel like I was [at the Second City] at a time when there were so many talented people, I didn’t see it as gender-specific. An improv team would have eight guys and one woman; that was still pretty standard. If you were a woman improviser, it was actually kind of an advantage because, if you were halfway decent, you’d get a lot more stage time. [You would be] in demand and that made you better.
In the book, you discuss being a mother in her forties. Do you have a new fan base of middle-aged mothers?
What I noticed is that, before I even wrote the book, when I would tell women my stories, their eyes just lit up. A lot of women in their late thirties and early forties were like, ‘I’ve missed the boat. I guess it’s just not going to happen.’ [Girl Walks into a Bar… is] the kind of book I would like to have read when I was in my old shoes, just to give a different possibility as to how your life can turn out. I’m finding, more and more, that there are unconventional stories out there. I’m hoping that people…can find some resonance [in that].
Girl Walks into a Bar… hits bookstores on March 29.