Inside Late Night With Mark Malkoff Ep 2: Rachel Dratch

Rachel Dratch made her first appearance on Saturday Night Live October 23rd 1999. It was a bit part—she played Ally McBeal star Calista Flockhart in a parody of an MSNBC panel show—but Dratch killed it so hard that she was asked to bring the same impression back the very next episode. Already on her way, a week later she and Jimmy Fallon brought down the house in the first “Boston Teens” sketch.  

But as she reveals to Mark Malkoff, Dratch’s rocket ship to SNL royalty had a slower start than it seemed to viewers watching at home at the time. In fact, she spent her first two episodes on the job without a single sketch making it to air.

Needless to say, Dratch quickly made up for lost (air)time, enjoying a legendary seven-year run on the show, and returning to cameo a whopping 14 times.

In this episode of Inside Late Night With Mark Malkoff, Rachel Dratch recalls her journey to SNL, how she prepares to appear on late-night shows, and why she thinks when any successor to Lorne Michaels will need to be chosen from within the SNL family.

Click the embed below to listen now, or find Inside Late Night on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Show Transcript

Mark Malkoff: Rachel Dratch, thanks for talking with us.

Rachel Dratch: Hi, hello!

Your life–because I’ve gone through pretty much everything, you grew up in Lexington, Massachusetts, up until present day–your life. I found it, and I don’t know if anyone has ever asked you this, but I found it so interesting that your very first Saturday Night Live experience going into 8H with an audience, and this is September 26th of 1999, normally with the first person the cast member, they are hired, they go in. Maybe it’s like one famous person, the host, maybe some people backstage at the taping here and there, but your very first experience was what?

My very first experience was the 25th anniversary show, which… and now we’re coming up on the 50th anniversary show, which is like, “gah!”

There’s that great photo of you and Steve Martin.

Oh my God, I know.

My point is, the late Gilbert Gottfried told me, because he was at the last one, it’s just a celebrity overload. I mean, for your first experience in that 8H, at that 25th, it’s like everybody’s there.

Oh yeah, so first of all, I wasn’t, you know, hadn’t been on the show yet ’cause it was just this anniversary show. I was sitting in the audience and they whisked me off to hair and makeup, wardrobe. Like, I didn’t even know, I just thought I was just going to sit in the audience. Like then I’m like Cinderella with, you know, cartoon birds flying me around here and there. And then I, and then in the makeup room, while I’m sitting there is Lily Tomlin, Dan Aykroyd, and Elvis Costello, and I was just like, “What is happening?” Yeah, I mean, three total idols of mine. And like, it wasn’t just “oh there’s..” it’s like three people that I would fan out to the high heavens. Anyway, and then of course the audience and there’s every musical guest that’s ever been on. So it was just like a total “pinch me” dream that first day and then it went on from there. I mean, it’s, it continues, yeah.

I can’t imagine, because you do your nine years in Chicago and then you move to LA for eight months and nothing is happening and then all of a sudden you’re thrust into this world. That season you weren’t in the very first two episodes. Were you there just hanging out? Seinfeld and David Bowie was the first episode of that season.

Yeah, oh my God, I love it, how much research you’ve done. First of all, throw in another “pinch me” moment is that when I was doing my photo for SNL’s opening credits, like they bring you out onto the studio stage and then in the next stage over, like right there, when you see this on TV, was David Bowie rehearsing, singing “Rebel Rebel” with his band. As I’m getting my photo taken to be on this dream job and like David Bowie’s right there singing “Rebel Rebel.” So whatever I hear “Rebel Rebel,” it always, I mean it chills every time I think about it. So that was amazing, but then yes, then it really hits and then it’s the very first show. 

And no, I was supposed to be in it, but then my scene got cut, which happens as you learn when you get there, happens all the time. So then the second week, same thing happens, my scene gets cut. And so I had a gradual entry into, then the third show is when I finally got it, but it’s just that thing [where you tell] of all your friends, like, “I’m gonna be on Saturday Night Live,” but  you don’t even know really the system because there’s no guide book that gets handed to you. But there’s no like, you know, your scenes might get cut every week, you know, so yeah.

It’s tough. You walk in, you’re the only person hired that season, you’re a featured player and your very first show that you’re credited on. This is October 23rd of ’99 is such a unique week to be featured because Norm Macdonald is hosting the show and he brings in all his own writers and there was this whole divide between Norm and his crew versus the SNL writers and Norm saying the show… the show is really bad. And there was all this, I mean, I’ve talked to people that were there–tension between everything. Did you observe that? Did you feel any of that?

Well, the good news is, no, I was brand new. I wasn’t noticing any of that. I didn’t have any clue about what’s happening behind the scenes, which often, which stuck with me for seven years. You don’t really know what’s happening behind the scenes. I guess if I had known if I was more in and knew the writers, I would have heard the scuttlebutt, but no, I had no idea. This is the first time I’m hearing that, actually.

Nobody went up to Norm in the goodnights and it seemed very calculated. I mean, not for you because you’re featured, you know, you stay in the back, but there was definitely, it was observing the goodnights. There was something going on, but that was your very first show, and you get Callsta Flockhart on, which is, I mean, you kill with that. Your very first late night appearance is on Conan, you do that, and it just absolutely kills. You, did it in your audition, but that had to have been big to get huge laughs right away.

Well, yeah, I mean, I guess, you know, from what I hear, Lorne wants your first appearance to be a hit. So that’s why like the first two things I did when I wasn’t on those first two weeks weren’t on, I guess, because he wants you to have, you know, an auspicious beginning. So that was a scene that, I wasn’t even in a whole scene. I was in like one little cutaway thing and I think Tina had written it.

I kind of figured that was probably Tina because she knew your sensibility or Adam McKay, but I think McKay, was he still there?

Yeah, he was there, he was there, yeah.

So they do that and then your third show you get on, I mean, the “Boston Teens” with Jimmy [Fallon].

With Jimmy, yeah.

And it’s like for the featured players, I’ve talked to some of these people, they can go an entire year with barely getting anything memorable on and you have all this momentum. Did you feel that momentum?

No, I’m like, a lot of stuff you’re saying. This is the first time I’m hearing of it. No, you don’t feel momentum, no. I mean, I don’t know. I had like, you know, people have totally different rides there. And like, the ride you have there can be so disparate from what someone else experiences. So I would say I had like the middle ticket. (laughs) I don’t wanna say anything. You know what somebody would ever do one of these? I don’t wanna say anything that gets pull-quoted out and like that is all over the internet. So I feel like I…

Like when New York Magazine in like 2000 whatever it was?

New York Times, New York Times, they did one of those on me, which we can get to in a moment. But anyway, no, like, so I’m always like so cautious of what I’m saying ’cause people pull out the SNL quotes, but I guess I would say, no, I definitely was not confident whatsoever. Did not feel like I had, like at a Second City by the time I had been on the main stage for years. Then yes, then I felt confident going up in front of a crowd every single night,almost and like improvising every night. Like you feel really strong. And then you get to SNL and it’s like your big fish is thrown into the giant ocean. So no, I didn’t feel like, I’m killing it here. Yeah, there are plenty of shows that first year that I was not in at all, and even the next year too, which I don’t kno if that happens, still. I guess it does here and there, but at the time.

It still happens to people. But a year or so later, this was 2002, Tina Fey was at the Television Critics Association press conference. And she said that she’d be walking down the street with you, and she had been on the show for two years at this point, and everybody would recognize you and she would not get recognized at all. And she would just, yeah, just kind of be amused. I mean, it might have been ’cause she wasn’t wearing the glasses and that’s what she was associated with.

Oh, yeah, I think she said that once. I think, well, back when she was first on Weekend Update, she got recognized a lot more when she had her glasses on, yeah. 

Yeah, but she was saying that she would just be walking around with you and you’d always be the person.

You know more about me than I do. This is hilarious. (laughs)

So when you get the show… growing up in Lexington, Massachusetts, your dad is, if I have this right, a radiologist, and your mother is a director of a van service for disabled people.

Well, she’s been retired for years and years and years, but that’s what she used to do, yes.

When you got the call that you got the show and you called them and they’re not from an entertainment background, did it register with them? Did they get it?

Oh, yeah, oh my God, yes, yes. I mean, we’ve been watching SNL. Like my parents were, well my dad has since passed away, my parents are and were very culturally savvy, I would say. And my dad was very, very funny. And he was a comedy, I mean, he was a fan of all.. he was kind of a Renaissance man guy, like interested in everything. He could tell you the B list movie actor from this movie from 1952. He was that kind of mind, but that also like very appreciative of comedy. So we always had comedy and other things ongoing, so like whatever, I grew up on, they would be watching Laugh In or Carol Burnett or whatever, and then SNL later. So they totally got the, you know, the bigness of SNL

And even when I went to Chicago, like, you know, they were supportive. They weren’t like, I can’t say like they get it. Like “Yes, you’ve gotta be in showbiz,” but they were totally like, you know, sort of, whatever makes you happy, kind of, try it. Even I was when I was over in Chicago, I was like, “I’m just gonna try this to know that I gave it a shot. I don’t wanna go through life wondering what if. So I’m gonna try this in a probably won’t work, and then I’ll go back and be a therapist, which I’m also equally interested in.” So, you know, I wasn’t full tilt like, (imitates singing) like, “Mom, where are my character shoes?” I wasn’t that person, so they kind of were following my, my, like, tentative lead on that too, yeah.

I got to see maybe a year after you were hired at Saturday Night Live, somebody showed me your audition tape, and it was a tape of everyone who auditioned. I remember Andy Daly auditioned as Hunter S. Thompson, I remember Ali Farahnakian at the end of his audition, said, “I need this job” under his breath. I watched your audition, and it was like, it’s not on YouTube or anything, but it was absolutely perfect. Kind of like Fallon’s audition, that’s up there. I remember you’re doing Calista Flockhart, Drew Barrymore and your Kosovo pop star, which I don’t even think you did on SNL, but you did it on your stage show, which I saw. But in ’99, this was 1999, the second time you’re auditioning, did you feel that confidence radiating? Because when I watched it, I was like, she’s ready. Like, I mean, this is…

Well, you know, so as you said, I auditioned two times two years in a row. And the first year, the first year, I felt much better about the audition because you just don’t know how it’s gonna go and they have you wait a really long time. So they’ll say, like, be there at three o’clock, and you’re so naive, you think, like, I guess I’m going on at 3:15, you know, you don’t know. But actually, then you go on at like six o’clock, whatever. You’re waiting, waiting, waiting, and your mind is doing all sorts of tricks. Like, “This could be it, oh my god.” Or, “I’m never gonna get it,” you’re going on waves. And so, I happened to be the last one of the day and I was going over my bit, you know, like, a thousand times in the dressing room. And then finally, when I got out there, it just so happened that I was feeling, like, I was on the good wave when I got to finally audition.

There was a guy in the back, you know, they tell you don’t expect anyone to laugh. Well, there was a guy in the back who worked in the office, he became a really a friend of mine named Ryan Shiraki, and he was laughing so hard. So, like, he was like the laugher that I heard. So, that probably helped too. But that was my first audition, and then I felt like I did the best I could do, like whether or not I get this, ’cause sometimes you leave auditions like, “oh, I messed that up,” and this wasn’t that. I felt like, and it was, I had this sort of peace around it, ’cause I was like, “That was the best I could do. There’s nothing I could have changed, so either I get it or I don’t.” Well then I don’t get it, and then I was, then I moved out to LA.

There’s a good reason you didn’t get it. They told you, and this show is very much about type, and they told you that they were only going for men that year, they hired Fallon, Horatio Sanz, and Chris Parnell, and the following year, they only hired you. So, it had no reflection on you, and they even told you maybe next year, which is–

Right, but just to clarify again, so I don’t have another pull quote from New York Times, because I, this is the thing I was talking about. I said this through time, but I didn’t mean, when I said they said, I was like Tina said that to me. I think it was Tina who said “they’re not hiring women this year, but I don’t think that was like, a decree from on high, only men this year.”

Oh, I don’t think so either. I don’t. 

But I only say that because that’s, that was in an interview [I did] about “Your Audition for SNL,” and then it got like, linked to a thing when you clicked on, it was to my, to my horror, it got like, put as a single like quotas and females and comedy, it took off on this whole thing. So no, like, they didn’t tell me that, I think Tina told me that, probably, you know, to whatever, ease the pain or whatever. Like, I don’t know. It just, you know, you never know who they’re going for, ’cause often they’re going for a type, or like, you know, we need the big guy. We need whatever.

No, it’s very, very true with the type. So you moved to LA, you don’t get SNL, you moved to LA for eight months, and literally nothing has happened, it’s correct. I mean, you go from being a rock star in Chicago, and I wanna mention getting the main stage of Second City is the equivalent in Chicago of getting Saturday Night Live. I mean, I don’t know if you agree with that, but it’s like everybody’s trying to get this thing and you get this thing and you’re a rock star and then you move to LA. And is it eight months of just, is that really tough on your confidence?

I think it was eight months of clinical depression. No, I mean… there was other stuff going on too, but yeah, it was tough on my confidence because I think I thought Second City was gonna open all these doors in LA, but it really didn’t for me. I don’t maybe it does for some people. The thing on Second City is people put it on their, well, back then we had resumes, you had a headshot and a resume in hard copy form, it could go like, hand out to people and things have changed now.  But anyway, I think like everyone put Second City on, whether they took classes there or, you know, you were kind of a dime a dozen. No, so nothing happened for me there. And then I thought of maybe trying to do, Tina was writing on SNL and she was missing performing and I thought, well, maybe we could do a sketch show, just us two. And so we ended up doing this show, Dratch and Fey in Chicago that summer. And then I got to audition again and then Tina got Weekend Update, I don’t know the timeline here, but something like that. 

The timeline was you did in Chicago ‘99 and then you were hired and Tina was hired the following year because I remember seeing “Dratch and Fey” five times in New York for $5 each. And I remember, I still have the program which is two inches by two inches. It’s something ridiculously small. And I apologize for my nerdiness ahead of time, but it was this phenomenon here in New York. And I remember it was how big it was when I saw Lorne Michaels leave a black box theater that used to be a strip club. I mean, that show was still my favorite sketch show I’ve ever seen before and I’ve seen a lot. Do you think in Chicago when you were doing that that helped your case for them hiring you at all, did they see that sketch show?

You know, I don’t remember if I think they did see it, but I’m not positive, but I’m sure it helped. I’m sure it helped because we got a lot of good press around that.

The reviews were phenomenal and then you do this in New York and that’s when, that summer, and that’s when Tina was hired.

All right, you’re right. There was a year between. Yeah, then we did it in New York and then Tina got hired.  

Okay, you have to, for younger people or anybody that’s in sketch comedy or in prep, how would you and Tina possibly write that, put the whole thing together and rehearse it in two weeks? How?

Well, that’s a great question. I mean, if I had to do it now, I couldn’t. Back then, I think I was so, I don’t know what, it’s so hard for me to write sketches now. I think back then I was just in sketch brain. Like you’re at Second City and you’re thinking in comedy terms all the time. So whether you’re walking on the street or you’re talking.. some little funny thing pops up and then you think of how you could spin that into a sketch, but I just don’t think like that anymore. Like if I had to, I don’t know if I could come up with anything. 

That is my nightmare two weeks in my head. I still am like, you know, a dream where I have to go on stage in an hour to do stand up or something I’m not prepared or like the sketch show ’cause I used to be in sketch groups is opening and we’re not prepared. But two weeks, even if I had the dream and it was two weeks, I would still be freaking out.

Yeah, well, I think what we did was, first of all, we gave ourselves this opening night. Like, so we’re like, okay, imagine if, it’s almost like that thing, I say, well, I could write a screenplay if I put myself in a prison cell for a month. Yes, I would write a screenplay. It doesn’t seem to be happening ’cause I’m not forcing myself. And this is what it was, like that deadline of “You’re going on in two weeks.” So then we’re like, “Okay.” Now we did, some scenes were done through improv, actually my favorite ones in that show were done through improv in rehearsal. And then some were scenes that Tina had tried to get on SNL that didn’t get on. I think we had like two or three of those. And then some were just like actually writing, coming up with a premise. But my favorite ones were just out of improv.

Adam McKay wrote the one sketch, which was the lottery, which I don’t know if you did in Chicago, you did it in New York.

Yeah, oh yeah, that’s a good point. I don’t remember if we did in Chicago, yeah.

But, oh man, there’s some clips online from the, I believe it would have been in New York run, it was interesting to me because you’ve mentioned this before how stuff in Chicago on stage might not translate to Saturday Night Live. That whole Jane Austin thing that you, Mr. Willoughby–every night, it killed. I mean, it was so, so good, the two of you. And then they put it on ten-to-one when Scarlett Johansson hosts the show and the audience energy by then is completely gone. I mean, I think this is before they were filling it with 80 standbys to make sure sketches don’t bomb. Was that hard for you? I mean, I’m glad I got on n the show, but is that hard for something you know that is just so, it kills and then to have that kind of, like, I don’t wanna say it, bombed, but it just, definitely the audience, the enthusiasm wasn’t what I was hoping for.

Yeah, I think, I don’t really remember feeling, like, “oh, that bombed.” I think I just remember, like, you know, your mindset is so different there. You’re just like, “My scene got on!” Like, you’re not thinking like, “Oh, and how did it do?” Because like, you’re just, oh, you’re looking at that board, like, oh, “I’m only in one thing” or “I’m in whatever, I’m not in it,” whatever it is. So like, or you’re like, “oh, this scene could be cut for time, but it got on.” So you’re not thinking like quality.

I’m so sorry that I insulted the sketch.

Oh my god, no, no, no, I wasn’t. I was gonna say something like, like, yeah, on stage that killed, and like, there’s something about the energy, like, I mean, I just, oh, I did a scene on SNL that I’d done at Second City, the scene, it was called “Beppi,” and it was, I think it was with Julia Stiles on SNL, but we, I played this cleaning lady that was like, a refugee from, Bosnia or something. So like, that one, again, like, killed on stage, and then like, at SNL, like, it did fine it, like, but it just, it’s kind of this thing of like, when you get to SNL, you have to shift, and then write for TV, instead of for stage, which is this weird learning curve that, is, I didn’t expect or even know about, and then, you know, I put stuff up at the table at SNL, that was like, that killed at Second City, and it couldn’t even get on the show. 

So, I don’t know, I still haven’t cracked the code, like, what were, what, I did learn early on, like, well I didn’t learn it enough to do it, but I learned from Tina, who had been there, like, at Second City, you could have put up a scene that sort of had a slow build, or took its time, ’cause you’re in a theater, and like, you could have that scene that is still funny, but takes a little bit of time to get there. But at SNL, you can’t do that. You have to have jokes, like, right away. Otherwise, you lose them. Like, they could turn the channel, or at the read through table, you know, it’s all about the jokes, kind of, so, it’d be hard to get a scene on that sort of, has a slow build at SNL. Every once in a while you could. But, so that was another learning curve.

Was there ever a time with Debbie Downer that you did not want to do it?

The host has so much sway, and I know this happened with The Cheerleaders, where they just didn’t so many times. I know that Will, at least, Ferrell, did not want do it, and you’d have these hosts that would come in, that are like, “I wanna do The Cheerleaders,” and Will’s like, “Okay, but…” So was there ever a time with Debbie Downer where you just thought, “We just did it,” or I’d like to have a break that a host wanted to do it. Did you ever feel that?

I honestly don’t really remember feeling that.

I know Molly had the same thing with Mary Catherine Gallagher at the same, but they, you know, those sketches, they did The Cheerleaders, probably 18 times, and you didn’t do Debbie Downer even close,

Yeah. I guess I don’t really have a good answer for that one, but yeah.

Who are some hosts that sent you either letters afterwards, Handwritten notes, gifts, after working with you?

People are getting gifts? Nobody sent me any letters or gifts.

They do that now. I think it’s a new thing. I think it’s a completely different thing now.

Okay, maybe that’s a new thing or I wasn’t getting the gift. (laughing) I’ve never gotten a letter or a gift from any host. And I want my gift.

Things have changed. I remember doing the standby line when I was in college at NYU, and they just, they didn’t even acknowledge them, and now, or at some point, they were, everyone was getting soup, and Fallon was hosting, sending out pizza, and I was like, “We, we…”

Oh, oh, I mean, sorry. Well, no, we probably got some sort of group, something. Oh, yes. Oh, sorry. I thought you meant an individual, “Dear Rachel, it was a pleasure. Love, Robert De Niro.” No, I’m sure, yeah, I’m sure they sent the sort of group things. Honestly, this was so long ago.

It was.

You are remembering far more than I am.

Yeah, I mean, yeah, I mean, this was just your life, every week. Your first time you were on Late Night, and I could be off on this, but I believe it was Conan in June of 2000, and I watched it. It just couldn’t have gone better. I don’t know how nervous you were for your first-ever appearance. I can tell you what you did on the show.

All I remember as I played the cello.

You did, and you started playing it regularly, and then you go into the Led Zeppelin and “A Whole Lotta Love.” Did you ever do that bit before, that whole–

Yeah, that was, we did that at Second City.

I was wondering, I never saw it at Second City, but it was to me, it was just, it killed so hard. I’m like, I wonder if Rachel tried this out previously.

Yes, I used to do that every night, and so I trotted it out for Conan.

Oh man, for your first appearance, ’cause he started having you on. I mean, you did ten Conans, ten Seth Meyers, eight Fallons, Colberts, Fergusons, John Oliver. I mean, in terms of going on these shows, and you make it look effortless, is it effortless, do you think, some of it? Going out there, do you have to put a lot of time into it or–

Well, I always get pretty nervous for those, because, but then Seth is easy ’cause I know Seth, so Seth is just like, we’re just chatting, and I feel comfortable, ’cause you, whatever, you give your little talking points or whatever, but the conversation can kinda go anywhere, and he’s just a relaxing person to be around. And then Conan, I was younger, and I didn’t know Conan as well, but I don’t know, again, it’s hard to think backthat far, in terms of how I was feeling at the time. I know some people go on these shows, and they come up with these big bits, and I never really did that, except for the cello thing. I would never come on,

like I love it when people take the time to think of a bit, like Will Farrell is always gonna come on with a bit, and I so admire that, but it’s just not really my wheelhouse.

You didn’t need it to get laughs, and I mean, I’m not that Will needs it and stuff, but Conan was all about self-deprecation, and your first time you were on, you did Ally McBeal which killed, and then you were talking about, you opened up a piece of paper that was message boards that people were talking about you.

Oh God, yes, you know, I wouldn’t have done that today, ’cause I learned, that was like a young person’s bit. I mean, actually, though, then it became a thing on Jimmy Kimmel–it was the original Mean Tweets, right, but I just, like, I think that’s sort of like trying to get ahead of the haters kind of thing, and I sort of learned, like, don’t do that. Don’t give them more, you know, I don’t know. I guess I was on to something with the Mean Tweets, but I forgot that I did that.

I can’t believe, like, the funniest people like yourself, Dana Carvey, Hader, Bill Hader, and Mike Myers, were always like, I don’t know if I’m gonna get renewed, and to me, it’s just, it’s hard to, people that are so talented and funny, that that show does that to everybody, even the people that are getting stuff on all the time. Yeah, you’re just, I guess, focused on the work the whole time.

I feel like every season, there’s maybe four cast members who aren’t thinking that, and then everyone else is.

It’s really tough to detach. Bill Murray always talks about if you can detach from all of that, but it’s awfully, awfully hard when you’re going through that. When you were in your sit down with Lorne, was that on your second audition, when you got the show in ’99, when you sat down with him?

Yeah, yeah.

I’m not gonna mention this person’s name, very funny woman. I met her in Chicago, she was a Chicago performer, and she had a really awkward interview with Lorne. She, Tina Fey wrote in the book, she would complete Lorne’s sentences. Very, very funny woman, but she tells people that she was just awkward and she had a tough time being comfortable. Did you take that in account? Did you know that going in with Lorne? Did you take that in account?

I didn’t know that. I didn’t really know much about Lorne other than, you know, seeing him on TV and that he’s this icon, but I didn’t know anything about him like, “Okay, when you go into the meeting…” You know, I didn’t have anything like that. I didn’t really know what the meeting was. I was like, “Does this mean I have this job or is this a second audition?” Like, what is this meeting? And then I guess what I hear is like, Lorne likes to meet with the person to make sure that you’re someone that, you know, you don’t mind bumping into them in three in the morning in the hallway. It’s like a “how crazy are you” test kind of thing. So, I guess I passed, but I definitely did not feel like, I don’t feel like I wowed him. Like, I’m always a little awkward around him anyway. (laughs) So, I’m like a shy person.

Obviously you got hired. So it went well, this is so bizarre to think about, but at the time, I mean Molly Shannon got hired at 30 and apparently one of the producers was like, she’s 30, she’s too old, Jan Hooks, 27, and they were debating if she was too old. Kristen Wiig was 33 or 32. You were 33 when you got hired, but at the time, it really didn’t happen much and they, if they had issues with 27 and 30, did you think that that might be a factor on you not getting hired or were you, did that not come up in your head?

At the time, you’re not thinking, you don’t know that, you’re ignorant of that. But then like, yeah, then like after I was on, you realize, “Oh, they don’t hire a lot of people…” I don’t even know how it is now.It’s probably different than it now. So it’s hard for me to like know what it’s like now because maybe that whole “rule” has eased up a lot. But I know like at the beginning, he liked ten people in their early 20s, I think even, for the most part, you know?

Can you imagine being Abby Elliott at 19, handling that pressure versus Kristen Wiig at 33 or Molly at 30? I don’t, Eddie Murphy certainly handled it at 19, but I just can’t imagine being thrust into that, being that young, it’s a gift, I think, that you were able to get that, having so much experience, life experience and stuff.

Yeah, I mean, I guess if you’re hired that young, you must have something that… I wouldn’t have had that at 19. I mean, I wouldn’t have known how to create a sketch or a character that young, but like, more power to people that find that young, you know?

The year that you auditioned that you didn’t get it, that summer, this is August 23rd, ’98 from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. This was a writer that flew to Chicago and was doing Chicago things. They went to Second City and saw “Promise Keepers, Losers Weepers”. And this is their quote, “Every generation of Second City performers and residents seem to produce a new star of natural, of national stature. The next one may very well be the diminutive, hugely talented Rachel Dratch, remember the name.” And you’re hired a year later.

What? I never heard that.

Oh, I can send you the copy. I’ve gone through everything I could possibly find. 

Wow, that’s so nice. I gotta remember that. 

It was one of those things where, I guess maybe on the outside, but stuff like that, you certainly didn’t feel that way. 

Well, I mean, there were nice reviews in Chicago.

There were.

So that’s what I mean, I felt pretty good at Second City, but no, I’ve never heard that review. I gotta remember stuff like that when I, when I wake up in the morning, “I used to be the diminutive star that was going to take the world by storm. I remember it was in the Pittsburgh Gazette.” It’s going to me standing on the street corner, saying, “Hey, anyone read the Pittsburgh Gazette, 1998? Anyone? They said I was gonna take the world by storm.”  That’s gonna be me, later afternoon.

I wanted to ask you, you were asked this once, but I wanted to ask it kind of a different way. If/when if Lorne Michaels leaves, who do you think the people are that would be capable of running the creative side? Because network side is a whole different ball game, but I would think Tina Fey, Steve Higgins, Seth Meyers, Robert Smigel on the creative side, yes. Again, but these people, I don’t know the network side, is there anyone else I’m leaving out that you think could possibly do this?

Ooh, that’s a great question. I don’t feel like I’m on the cutting edge of, like, there’s probably a lot of names that aren’t of my generation that were at SNL, that would also be good at it, I mean. 

That could do it, you think?

Obviously all those people would be amazing. I don’t know that they would want such a burden.

I know.

I think it’s a life, I mean, like for example, Tina, who I have not talked about this with, by the way–you hear that, New York Times?– I have no knowledge of this, but I feel like Tina would be amazing at this, okay? But would she want to be there every night, sometimes two in the morning? Would she want it? I don’t know, like she likes, she’s, you know, she likes her evenings in, you know, so I don’t know. It’s like, it’s a whole life thing. I’m sure like anyone that’s been in that, it would have to be someone from within though, I think. It couldn’t be someone from outside.

Lorne, for him to hire somebody without isn’t gonna happen, I mean, that’s…

But I will say like, ’cause people don’t know this, like Lorne is extremely involved in hands-on with the show. Like he, you know, sometimes I think people might get this idea that he hires people and goes home. But no, he’s there, he’s making all the decisions, he’s making all the choices, he’s the tastemaker  of the whole thing.

Tim Meadows said that Lorne can still write sketches, ’cause I know he hasn’t really, like, put his name on just one piece that I know of in the last, whatever, a bunches of years since the 70s, but like, maybe they wrote something together or something, but talking to people, Lorne can still absolutely sit down and write stuff if he wanted to.

I mean, I wouldn’t know that, but all I know is he’s there at 2AM. (laughs)

I wanna talk about your podcast. So first of all, everybody subscribe to Rachel’s podcast and also you’re, I think you’re 8,000 away from Instagram

of having 100,000, so everybody,

Oh my God, you’re right!

Go on Instagram and you will be entertained with Rachel’s Instagram feed, so.

I’m not all that entertaining, but I’m not too, I don’t post, like, okay, my favorite Instagram is Amy Sedaris

It’s just very, very fun. I know you’ve known her and she’s been on your show, yeah. 

I mean, I’m just gonna turn the business, I’m gonna turn the business over to Amy Sedaris because she is amazing and she posts so many fun things. I don’t do that. I just post, like, here’s what’s happening, and then an occasional fun thing, but you’re right, I am, wait, what am I, 8,000 away? I’m 8,000.

I hope my podcast can do something if we can get you there.

If you guys, if you can get me to 100k, by next week, come on guys, we can do this.

I’m gonna see what I can do. I have no life, so I can put some energy into that. Your podcast is so much fun. When I first heard the name “Woo Woo,” I thought, “Rachel Dratch has a lot of enthusiasm. I’m excited to hear her enthusiasm,” and then you have this different take–Woo Woo actually means what?

Well, first of all, it’s funny you’re saying, woo, woo, because I say woo, woo, so that means, when you put it like that, but actually there’s a distinction because when you say “woo woo,” it’s like, when you’re telling a story about, like, my saw goes, your, my side, get told me this, and you always preface it, like, “Okay, I don’t wanna sound all ‘woo woo,’ but this crazy thing happened, like, you know, “I don’t wanna sound all woo, woo, but I think that cardinal is my dad. Like all that crazy crap that people talk about.”

A lot of your friends and people that maybe aren’t in the business, but I mean, you just had Seth Meyers on this week, and then you get people like, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Amy Sedaris, Amy Poehler, I mean, it keeps going…

Yeah, so it all kind of started during the strike, and I was like, oh, what can I do?  Although, actually, that’s not true, I started before that, because the reason is, I love hearing these stories, like, over the years, I’ve heard some crazy stories from friends that have kind of challenged my whole worldview of, like, “It’s all science, and we know everything.” Even though some of these stories do sound very woo woo, and like, someone’s talking about whatever a ghost, and you’re like, “Okay, that could have been any number of other things besides the ghost.” I definitely have a healthy dose of skepticism, but I always love hearing these stories, and so then I was like, oh, it’d be fun to just do some podcasts where I talk to funny friends, or people that have had amazing things happen to them in the form of this podcast, and that’s how it all started.

You yourself have some of these experiences, so it was definitely something, ’cause there’s so many podcasts, let’s face it, and yours definitely stands out, because, I mean, you talk about a lot of your SNL friends, you can talk about SNL, but they’re talking about things they probably have never spoken to, at least publicly, about.

Yeah, I mean, it’s sort of a combo of people that I know that aren’t actors or anything that have told me these insane stories over the years, and then it’s also, then the other side of it is, I’ll ask Will Ferrell, “Hey, what have you ever had anything weird happened?” And some people, like Will and Seth, they don’t have some, “Oh my God, this big thing happened to me,” but it’s just like getting them on to talk about that sort of side of things. And some people have no woo woo whatsoever, and some people do, and then we often end up talking about comedy and writing, and the unconscious, and how that affects creativity. You can go any number of ways, woo woo is a large umbrella. 

You had two things that happened. One, you were living in LA in a hotel for like a few months, and there was some stuff that was going on.

Apparently I saw some ghosts at this hotel, yeah. I feel funny even saying that, ’cause then people immediately think you’re crazy, but I, for whatever, maybe it was a dream, whatever, but I did see these two ghosts on multiple occasions, and then the kicker to the story is, well this is, so I do tell this story on my podcast. It’s the one under “Rachel’s Own Ghost Story.” 

The thing that made me, actually I think this is one of the events that drove me to do this podcast, because, okay, at this hotel, I saw these two dudes, these well dressed gentlemen, who I seem to be a couple on the down low, and I know that makes me sound even crazier. But anyway, I would see these two dudes, right? When I was, like, you know, after I went to sleep, they would kind of appear in the corner of the room, to the point where I was saying, Out loud, ’cause you know, I’m on a movie and I had a really early call the morning. One night I had a five a.m. pickup or something that I actually said out loud, like, “Guys, I’m a really early call tomorrow. Please, please don’t show up tonight, ’cause I really need my sleep.” Like, that’s what it came to, just so you know. 

So, and then, then about, like, I don’t know, maybe six months or a year later, something like that. I had to stay in the same hotel, and I was like, “Oh my gosh, please don’t put me in room whatever it was, 525 or something.” And then I got in room 526, is what they put me in, next door. Well then that night, I awakened to feel–and I found out later this is like a trope, this is like a world trope–but I woke up to feel someone was, like, pressing down on me, which is a thing that people have. Maybe scientifically explained, you know, maybe you’re having sleep apnea, whatever, right? I wanna be skeptical enough, but then when I woke, I saw, which I always put in quotes, this like, mean old lady, and she was from the same time as those other two dudes. She had like, her hair was in like a golden girl’s hair, kind of thing. 

Anyway, so that was that. I Googled this hotel, I don’t find anything. Well then, years and years and years later, I was doing press and the hair guy for this press thing, happened to mention that his friend was a concierge at this same hotel, because he was telling me funny showbiz stories, and he’s like, time out this old broad that came in, showbiz nightmare. (Laughs) I’ll tell you who it was after, but anyways, and then he’s like, yeah, she was in there, and I was like, “Wait, your friend is a concierge?” I was like, “Text her right now and ask her if it’s haunted.” So he texted and she writes back right away, “Yes, it’s definitely haunted.” 

And then, anyway, eventually, I actually talked to her, and she’s on the podcast. And I said, “What did people report?” Now, I didn’t tell you, but the guys that I saw, they were dressed from another time, they were like from sort of the, I don’t know, late ‘40s, early ‘50s, they had like, they looked like John Waters-style, which is what I tell people. But they were just like well dressed gents, okay? Anyway, I said, “What did people report seeing?” And she said, “They reported seeing ‘a nattily dressed gentleman.’” And she said, “A mean old lady.” And then that’s when I was like, my mind was really blown. And I know that sounds nutty, but I like a nutty story, and that’s my own nutty story.

Yeah, I mean, you have, I don’t wanna give the other story away, but I mean, you went to a psychic and within three or six months, things happen that this person told you that were totally in your mind, like this, this is impossible, there’s no way and it did happen. 

Oh yeah, she totally predicted a life path.

Everybody listen to Rachel’s podcast, and let’s get her to 100,000 on Instagram. And then you produced, your co-host, Irene Bremis,  her stand up special, which is called Sweetie, which is available on Amazon, Apple Play, and Google Play, and really, she’s really, really funny. I mean, she talks about being, I live in a Greek area of New York City, and she talks about that, and being OCD, and family challenges with her brother, and social media, and her husband-firefighter, living in Staten Island, and–

Yeah, she’s stuck on Staten Island. Well, let’s talk, I mean, whatever, I know we have a lot of Staten Island, but she jokes about that in her stand-up, about her living in Staten Island. She is, yeah, she’s Greek, and she actually started out in my town before I knew her, and then she moved back to Astoria, where her parents are from Greece, Greek, and then she came back to my town. It’s like two very opposite places, but she’s hilarious, and we’ve been friends since high school and she co-hosts the podcast with me.

Yeah, she’s a lot of fun. I love that you have that connection. Last question is, in December of 2009, the New York Daily News, their equivalent of Page Six. They said, “former SNL pals Will Forte and Rachel Dratch, chatting over blue cheese fondue at the Smith yesterday.” Now, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as blue cheese fondue.” First of all, is this true and is it any good?

Well, so Will and I lived on the same block until he moved away. So we called it, well, I don’t… I was gonna say the name of the street. The blank street gang is what we called it, (laughing) but, yes, and so I didn’t know that I made the paper for eating, I don’t remember blue cheese fondue. I know they have a little dip there. They have a little dip that you dip, potato chips. I love The Smith.

I had to Google to see if it was for real and it is for real. So, well, I’m really glad that we got to do this. I’m gonna stop in a second and then I wanna hear who this woman was at the hotel, the actress, okay.

You can probably even guess.

So thank you for being a guest.

Thank you.

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