Girl Walks into a Bar is a memoir by former Saturday Night Live cast member Rachel Dratch, perhaps best known for her character Debbie Downer. Here, Dratch recounts her career experiences (before, during, and after SNL), her attempts at dating, and her unexpected yet welcomed pregnancy at age 43.
As you might expect, “Girl” is laugh-out-loud funny, with humorous tangents aplenty. Dratch describes her long, persistent journey (often being passed up on initial tryouts) from high school drama geek in Lexington, MA, to finding improv at super WASP-y Dartmouth, to hitting her stride at Second City in Chicago, to the excitement of finally landing on SNL. After her SNL contract was up, however, came a somewhat unsettling career no-man’s-land. With more free time on her hands, Dratch decided to really focus on dating, but ended up logging more baffling misses (men who flew under her gay-dar; a dinner date who mused about cannibalism) than hits—until that titular day she walked into a bar.
Despite her East Coast upbringing, Dratch has a surprising number of “woo-woo” tendencies, along the lines of dream symbolism, psychics, and going to a “visioning workshop.” In fact, one of the key rules of improv sounds sort of new age: it’s known as “Yes, and,” and it involves agreeing with and adding to the information that your partner provides in a scene. In a lovely synthesis of career lessons and her overall journey, Dratch points out how this principle helped guide her to some of the most meaningful events in her life—including motherhood.
Reviewed by Kim Hedges