, , , ,

Some of the funnier ladies of SNL’s past must have huddled together a few years ago and made a plan, like the kind of plan you make when you don’t want to get out of bed. Maybe it went something like “Oh hey, Tina. Remember when we didn’t do all that cocaine at the SNL after parties” and Tina was all, “Oh hells yeah, Dratch. Why don’t we both write books about it.” and then Rachel thought about how she’d much rather watch T.V. than write a book, but then Tina double dog dared her. Oh, and Sarah Silverman was like “Me, too”. Then Tina and Rachel exchanged uncomfortable glances because Sarah’s funny and all, but three books sounds like overkill. Are people really gonna read all three?

Answer: Yup.

Girl Walks into a Bar by Rachel Dratch

Rachel Dratch is a New Yorker subjected to too many vague, nameless recognitions followed by ‘whatever happened to you’s. She takes it in stride though, writing about the down time that followed Saturday Night Live with matter of fact humor. Occasional dips into self deprecation surprised me, but for the most part this is a pitch perfect memoir that earns its fine print: Comedy Calamities, Dating Disasters, and a Midlife Miracle.

Dratch does talk a bit about her path to SNL, the evolution of her iconic Debbie Downer character and the all night parties that followed every night’s show. For some reason she wants us to believe Hollywood isn’t all glam and blow. Then thankfully she moves on to a few thoughts on improv and offers us a few tips should you ever feel compelled to hop on stage with nothing but your pretty self. The key is getting out of your head and not trying so damn hard.

After seven years on SNL, she’s typecasted into a corner most actresses don’t exactly covet, home of the butch, the woodlandish and the ugliest in all the world. Told “They’re going in another direction” after trying on bigger roles, namely Jenna on 30 Rock, she finds herself in the unfamiliar territory of dating. She’s ready to find Mr. Yum so they can have a baby and live happily ever after.

As far as dating disasters go, hers are right up there. She definitely lets it all hang out with two heart warming tales of full frontal exposure. Then comes a series of non-dates with she-didn’t-know-they-were-gay gay men. I feel that. Can’t speak for other cities, but New York has more than its fair share of this deceitful breed. But they’re not nearly as bad as the next breed she attracts – the cute guy who talks on and on about all the things you’re interested in only to drop the girlfriend-bomb way after the polite window to do that has closed:

The fine art of keeping that painted on congratulatory smile while your innards are imploding is a true skill.

Somewhere between the cannibal and the taken, Dratch does what many of us have done at low points. She reads The Secret and takes the theory for a test drive. I’m still hearing her “Oh, Uni-veerse” voice in my head every time I’m wanting another hour of sleep or someone to bake me some pie. –

(If you haven’t read The Secret, just consider the universe ever at your beck and call, your perpetual drive through. Put in your order and prepare to receive. That’s the idea. Some of us are still waiting for that pie, but Rachel’s Uni-veerse kind of listened.)

– Rachel wants a baby, but she doesn’t want to do it alone. After enough dates that would’ve had some of us changing our locks, she puts the idea aside to enjoy some traveling, food and wine with Mr. Fun Times. Think we can all guess what happens next.

What surprised me most was how honest she was about her fears of having a child in her early 40s. Apparently every item on her registry can in some way kill a baby. My favorite parts came towards the end when things go from a little crazed to delirious in her personal life,

I looked down and realized that in my haste in the morning, I had slipped my maternity jeans on backward at 6 a.m. and hadn’t noticed all day long.

If you don’t already love Rachel Dratch, you will after this book. I didn’t laugh as much as I expected, but it was still way funnier than most books.

Her perspective of New York as a city made up of a bunch of neighborhoods is a pretty accurate way to describe it. True all cities are made up of neighborhoods, but in NYC you can really feel the difference. Breaking it up into these familiar pockets, finding places where you’re at ease, strips away much of the cold concrete feeling you may have when you first move here. Soon you stop seeing how big and fast everything is and you start ignoring the lady shaking her fists out the window. Instead you notice the smell of your favorite street carts, or where to hear your kind of live music without feeling underdressed.

Thanks to Elizabeth Merritt Abbott for recommending this book in the comments of The Bedwetter review. I love getting recommendations, but it’s your ass if I don’t like it, which basically amounts to me shaking my fists out the window.