Comedian and Actress Rachel Bloom Discusses the Business of Being Funny
What can you say about Rachel Bloom other than she is an inventive, provocative and downright funny comedian/actress/writer/singer. Her comedic music videos have been featured on the AV Club, Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, and won awards. She’s written for Robot Chicken, Allen Gregory, and the MTV Movie Awards (to name but a few), acted on How I Met Your Mother, The Yahoo! webseries The Fuzz and the CW webseries Gallery Mallory and performs live with the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in L.A. and New York (look below, she will be doing so very soon once again.) As you will see below this very busy lady is currently developing a show for Showtime (and a Broadway musical) and has just released a new album of Chanukah and Jewish-themed comedy songs.
Does this time of year see you in a rush to complete holiday-themed comedy videos? I mainly ask because of the blisteringly funny “Chanukah Honey” video.
I don’t do many themed videos, but this time of year was a rush because I decided to do a Chanukah themed album. Three of the songs on the album are Chanukah themed, so we decided to do three videos. That’s been hectic to finish in time.
What’s happening for you beyond this wacky stuff you do for this new fangled thing the kids call the interweb?
The biggest thing happening right now is that I’m developing a musical television show for Showtime called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. I’m working with screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna (she wrote The Devil Wears Prada), and, if all goes well, I’ll be both writing and starring in it. We’ve been ordered to what’s called a “put pilot,” which basically means the network has committed to shoot the pilot. Fingers crossed!
I’m also in the middle of writing a live stage musical, tentatively titled Broadway Crazy. (It had that title before we came up with the Showtime show title).
You seem to be perfectly balanced between what you are doing online and off, do you have a preference?
I really love writing and performing my own comedy, be it online or off-line. A lot of my songs online originated as live songs or vice versa, so the two mediums intersect a lot.
Are there moments when you think to yourself, ‘Ok, that’s a little much of my cute kisser splashed all over the net, I have to cheat back here and concentrate on live appearances for a bit and stay off the web?’
I actually don’t do a lot of videos compared to most Youtube people. I did three videos to promote my album over the course of May-July and then three more videos will have happened between November-December, but those are all usually made in short bursts. I only do videos when I’m truly excited about the idea and am willing to spend time and sometimes thousands of dollars of my own money.
I first became aware of you in your “Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury” (big fan as I am of Mr. B.) I know why I would want to cuddle up with Ray Bradbury, but are you a fan of his really?
I’m actually a fan of Ray Bradbury. I really love how he uses high premise ideas to explore grounded themes like death, love and religion.
And you were nominated for a Hugo for that video…that’s like the ultimate in sci-fi recognition. That must have made you proud!
I had occasion to speak with Susie Essman and Pat Cooper (they were appearing on the same bill) and asked each why are Italians and/or Jewish folk so funny? (I’m Italian myself). Why do ‘we’ have such deeply rooted humor traditions, do you think? And are they exclusive to us really?
Humor has always been a way for Jewish people to deal with difficult circumstances. Historically, it’s also been a way to take out anger on your enemies in a non-violent way. Yiddish used to literally be called, “German to spite the Germans.”
I also think the restrictions of the Jewish religion and the cultural “guilt” play a factor in humor. I can’t speak for Italians, but I think that the guilt and restrictions of Catholocism and Judaism are very similar. Thus, both Jews and Italians have developed a sense of humor to deal with these intense emotions. It’s perhaps why Irish people are particularly funny as well. Even if you were secularly raised (for the most part, I was), the idea of release through humor stays in your DNA.
What’s L.A. got for people in your business that NYC doesn’t…and vice versa?
There are just so many more jobs in LA. It’s where most television shows and movies get made. In the past two years I’ve had the amazing fortune to write for about 8 different tv shows/projects, and those are opportunities I just wouldn’t have had in New York.
As a theater person, though, I feel that I’ve left part of my soul in New York. There’s great theater out here, but, in New York, theater is more of a lifestyle and less of a hobby. It’s an essential part of that city.
Tell us what’s coming up for you in the new year.
Stay tuned for news about my Showtime show. I should be doing some more music videos and hope to finish up my musical!