Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Audiobook Review: "Girl Walks Into a Bar" by Rachel Dratch

Girl Walks Into a Bar...: Comedy Calamities, Dating Disasters, and a Midlife Miracle Rachel Dratch
Narrator: Rachel Dratch
Published: March 29, 2012
ISBN: 9781592407118
Genre: Memoir / Humor
Source: Personal Copy / Audible Download
Highly Recommended

Anyone who saw an episode of Saturday Night Live between 1999 and 2006 knows Rachel Dratch. She was hilarious! So what happened to her? After a misbegotten part as Jenna on the pilot of 30 Rock, Dratch was only getting offered roles as "Lesbians. Secretaries. Sometimes secretaries who are lesbians."

Her career at a low point, Dratch suddenly had time for yoga, dog- sitting, learning Spanish-and dating. After all, what did a forty- something single woman living in New York have to lose? Resigned to childlessness but still hoping for romance, Dratch was out for drinks with a friend when she met John.

Handsome and funny, after only six months of dating long-distance, he became the inadvertent father of her wholly unplanned, undreamed-of child, and moved to New York to be a dad. With riotous humor, Dratch recounts breaking the news to her bewildered parents, the awe of her single friends, and the awkwardness of a baby-care class where the instructor kept tossing out the f-word.

My Thoughts:
Let me tell you how I came upon this me, this impacted my experience with this audiobook.  At some point in the recent past, I heard part of an interview with Rachel Dratch on NPR about how she hadn't enjoyed the professional success after SNL as her co-stars such as Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.  The bit of the interview I heard interested me and I filed it away in my mind.

Fast forward a few months and I'm listening to Yes, Please by Amy Poehler, which I loved.  Poehler mentions Dratch several times and I remembered the interview I had heard with her earlier.  When I went on Audible one day, I saw Dratch's book and used up one of my credits for it right on the spot.  This is important: I never read the summary of this book.  Keep that in mind.

I listened to this book immediately after Yes, Please, which I think was actually a good thing.  As I said, Poehler frequently mentions Dratch and, in this book, Dratch frequently mentions Poehler.  Dratch says up front that she is not going to go in depth into her time on SNL as her story is really about what happened after that--and, given the time I listened to this, I appreciated it because I was afraid that it would be too similar to Poehler's book.

She does devote a chapter or two to her period of what can be considered the height of her career, and that was enough.  I actually enjoyed the rest of the book more.  Dratch has a great delivery talking about her post-SNL life in a way that is realistic, but not negative.  Frankly, I think most people would be pretty down on themselves if their career had worked out like Dratch's did (she does still work and has a career, but let's face it--her sitcom career didn't work out and, well, she's not making a lot of movies).

Her narrative sort of reminded me a bit of Sex in the City in that it was very much about her life and her relationships in a matter-of-fact yet humorous way.  Dratch does a great job with the narration--she isn't as "out there" as Poehler, but I don't think that is Dratch's personality.  Instead, I heard an honest narration from a funny lady.

So, remember, I never read the summary of this book.  Heck, I didn't even know the title past Girl Walks Into a Bar....  I was on the elliptical at the gym, just listening along and--BAM!--Dratch announces she's pregnant.  Whaaa?  I literally stopped the elliptical and reversed the recording to make sure I heard that right.  

Now, if I had actually read what this book was about, this would not have been a surprise.  As it was, I almost felt like I had fallen for some sort of bait-and-switch.  This wasn't the book I thought I was listening to!  Fortunately, my indignation lasted for about 60 seconds and then, all of a sudden, I realized that I was no longer just being entertained by this book.  I could now relate to Dratch and that made all the difference.  Even though my circumstances when I was pregnant with my kids was different from Dratch's, I still heard my own experiences when she spoke of the moment she lost it over tiny pants or when she worried that she wouldn't be up for the mom gig job.

Looking back on this book--which I sort of have to since I was so jolted in the middle of it--I can say that I truly enjoyed it.  The only reason I'm not giving it 5 stars is that I wish she had talked more about her childhood days as a good set-up for her own motherhood role.

I do believe that it belongs up there with Yes, Please and Bossypants, but not because Poehler, Fey, and Dratch were all SNL contemporaries.  Instead, I feel that it is a nice counterpoint to those two books.  While it may seem at the beginning of the book that Dratch is the "less successful" of the three, it is clear by the end that she is immensely successful in her own way.

I was not solicited for this review and I received no compensation for this post.

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