GIVEAWAY: Signed Copy of "Girl Walks into a Bar"
In addition to paying obscene amounts for our strollers and putting our names on waiting lists for summer camp before our children are even born, being a New York City parent means your kid has a slightly better than average chance of attending preschool alongside the offspring of previous cast members of Saturday Night Live.
In my case, Mazzy goes to preschool with Eli, son of Rachel Dratch.
Rachel, before she spent most of her time fending off stalkerish emails in which I insist we are best of mom friends, wrote a book called Girl Walks into a Bar about her life experiences as a comedian, a single person in Manhattan and in a surprise twist ending, a new mom at 44.
The book is hilarious (as dating in Manhattan tends to be), relatable (I used to perform SNL sketches too! Only for my parents in our basement!), but also surprisingly poignant. With all the internet snarkiness I am used to reading about parenting, it's refreshing to read Rachel's perspective, as someone who just feels lucky her life took an unexpected turn and she gets to be Eli's mom.
Today, Rachel was kind enough to answer twenty questions (it's my first celebrity interview!) and give away a signed copy of her book in the comment section below.
1. Explain your parenting philosophy in five words or less.
I don't really have one strong philosophy. Maybe "Live in the moment?" I'm not super rigid at all. I try to stick to a basic schedule but when things don't go as planned I try to go with the flow. Maybe that comes from my improv comedy background! In more trying times, I suppose my parenting philosophy is "Try not to lose your shit." That's six words though.
2. Are you in danger of getting kicked out of show biz for naming your kid something normal?
When I was pregnant I had a dream that our son was named Hercules. So we started calling him Herc in utero on a regular basis. Then it lost its jokey quality to me and I actually started thinking Herc sounded like a cool name. But I couldn’t go the distance with it. I think you can only pull off that name if you are Greek. And I wouldn’t have been able to deal with the double takes and questions. In the end I'm glad we named him Eli.
3. If you had to be the spokesperson for one baby product, what would you choose and why?
The Boppy Newborn Lounger. I had no idea what it was – someone gave it to me at my shower and it sat around for awhile until I busted it out and was like – "this is my salvation!" I’d plop Eli on it in the bathroom to take a shower on a daily basis. And, even though the label says not to do this – so please know this is not sanctioned by the good people at Boppy – my son had acid reflux and couldn't lie flat so when he was about six months, we let him sleep on the pillow.
4. What is the most ridiculous thing Eli ever had a tantrum over?
Luckily he hasn’t pitched many tantrums but the Biggie was like something out of a movie. I took him to see the model trains around Christmas time in Grand Central. He loved it so much that I realized, “Hmm, this is going to be a tough exit.” So I waited and waited as he watched the trains go around and around, until it was 6 o'clock and I had to pull the plug on the outing. After saying ten times, “Ok! We’re going to have to go soon!” I finally picked him up to take him out to leave. Commence screaming and crying, “I want the TRAAAINNS! I want the TRAAAINNS!” I’m wrestling him out of the building and I tried to step outside to get a cab (he is still screaming), but there were no cabs, so we go back in, and we end up in the very center of Grand Central by the clock when I had to put him down. He is lying on the floor screaming “I want the TRAAAINNS!” in the middle of rush hour. The place is packed with commuters and I can’t get him off the floor. You could almost see the camera panning out in the big crane shot. Someone helped me pick up his coat and of course in that moment when you do not want to be recognized she says over the din “Hey! Aren’t you from SNL?!”
5. Do you think being a celebrity helps or hurts when it comes to making mom friends?
I never really thought of that because I don’t really think of myself as a celebrity when I walk into a room full of people. It’s not like I’m so famous that I walk around thinking “DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM?!”
6. Who is your mom idol?
I guess my mom idol for a preschooler is my own mom, because my memories of her when I was that age are just of her being engaged, and thinking up fun things to do, and giving a feeling of safety and empathy. Now, the teenage years – that would be another story…
7. What's the weirdest parenting or pregnancy-related search term you've ever googled?
The first thing that comes to mind is when I first learned I was pregnant it was such a shock, and I had unknowingly been partaking of alcohol throughout the first month of the pregnancy. Because of my age, I had assumed I was going through some sort of early menopause. So the day I found out I was pregnant, my internet history read “Menopause” “Symptoms of menopause” “Alcohol in early pregnancy”.
8. What children's TV show gets the most airtime at your house?
We go through phases. First Elmo, then Mickey, and lately it’s all about Little Einsteins. I thought I would not have him watch TV at all at such a young age, but then practical life kicks in and it’s like – “I’ve got to take a shower this morning! I know he will stay still on the couch for this show.” It’s a slippery slope…
9. Which children's show makes you want to throw the remote at the television?
Eli used to wake up super early, like 5:30, and I was comatose. The only age appropriate thing on television at that time is Barney. The lilt in Barney’s voice and the way they talk-sing all their songs drove me insane. But then, I never thought I'd say this – I got used to it. Another show I simply cannot watch is Wow Wow Wubbzy. I turned it on once to watch and after a few minutes, I said aloud, in spite of myself, “This is fucking horrible.”
10. Which present or former SNL cast member would you most trust to watch your kid?
SNL is such a bonding experience. Even the people you don’t hang with in your spare time, you are still up there in front of millions on live TV and you are all relying on each other, so if I can trust them all up there in a scene, I can trust them all with my kid! That said, as far as who I would trust the MOST – besides the ladies, I'll say Will Forte. He could be my manny.
11. One day, when you decide to show Eli something of yours from SNL, which sketch do you think you'll show him first?
I’d show him this 80 year old Hollywood producer I used to do named Abe Scheinwald, because you can just take one look at me dressed as this guy and understand it’s supposed to be funny. Although seeing me like that might really confuse the kid.
12. If Debbie Downer showed up to a NYC preschool admissions tour, what would she say?
“Your kids are all so cute! Too bad there are 600 of you applying and only 16 will get in.” WAAAH WAAAAAH.
“When I was a kid, I played with blocks too. Only difference is, my parents didn’t pay 15 grand a year for me to do it.” WAAAH WAAAH
“PS. Hope your kid started music class already or you have a nanny who speaks Mandarin. You don’t? Well I guess the PS stands for public school then. Cuz that’s where you’re headed. Hope you’re in one of the GOOD districts or it’s time to start apartment shopping. That’s a fun thing to do in New York.” WAAAH WAAAAAH
13. You've got one hour of child-free, work-free time. What are you doing?
My honest answer is, I think about all the things I should do with that time – clean up, groceries, work out, write, call friends, buy some new clothes – and then I get paralyzed by all the options and end up wasting the time looking online.
14. What's the biggest advantage to having kids later in life?
I suppose it’s that I’ve already “done” the career thing – not that I don’t hope to continue my comedy career, but in terms of climbing the ladder to SNL, I feel like I’ve checked that off, and I’ve also done a lot of the travel/NYC nightlife stuff, so I don’t feel torn at all when it comes to staying home and living a more domestic life with my kid.
15. What's the biggest disadvantage?
If I could have had kids earlier, I would have, but that’s just not how it worked out for me. I feel so grateful that I even have a child – he was such a great surprise – so I don’t spend too much time dwelling on the what-ifs. So far I don’t feel like an “old mom” and I hope I can keep that going!
16. What was your proudest parenting moment thus far?
The best stuff is the stuff they surprise you with, that seems to have nothing to do with your parenting but when you just get to see their innate little self come out. I had a moment at a family party when Eli went out on the dance floor and was just jamming out in his little khakis for like a half hour, and was going up to everyone and clapping at them and being this mini life of the party! But that’s not really a parenting thing, it’s just a fun thing. I guess I’m glad at this point he seems generally happy and smiley, and I’m proud if I’m keeping up a nice facade over my cynical side. Also, since he is the first and only grandkid, it’s really fun seeing my parents flip out over him and all the joy he has added to their lives. He was a surprise for them too!
17. Why did you write Girl Walks into a Bar?
I started writing because the acting roles had slowed down and I had a lot of free time on my hands and I had spent enough of it watching daytime TV. I began as a creative exercise to see what it was like to write up a funny story when something unusual happened to me. Then those stories kind of sat around for awhile until a few years later I had the surprise real-life pregnancy plot twist and that’s when I started writing it all as a book in earnest. One cool little thing about the book is that when I was writing stories about the single girl at the baby shower, I didn’t know I would be having a baby later in the book!
18. What did John think of the book?
He was supportive and I think he liked how it turned out. It’s a vulnerable feeling to share such a personal story, so you want to be extra sensitive to the other people involved. John is in business and every so often he’ll be in a meeting or something and afterwards the person will say, “So… I read that book!” Somehow the scuttlebutt gets around!
19. What's harder— finding success as an actor, dating in Manhattan or parenting a two-year-old?
Wooooowwww. I love this question. This is my real answer: I’d say the easiest is parenting a two-year old, (and it ain’t easy!), followed by finding success as an actor, and the hardest has to be dating in Manhattan.
20. If a psychic were to predict your not so distant future, what would you hope she would say?
Ahh. You are referring to my psychic story in the book! (A psychic told me on my 43rd birthday that I would have a child, and I wasn’t even dating anyone, and I was like “Yeah, right.”) I would hope she would say, I get some really fun comedy job that doesn’t take too much time away from being a mom.
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Winner will be announced on Friday, April 26th (when I will also tell you about the cheapest man in the world, the guy who wore sweatpants, etc.) Good luck!