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An Interview of Rachel Dratch in support of her appearance in My Live in Ruins
By Matt Mungle
My Life in Ruins hits theaters June 5, and I had a chance to chat with SNL funny lady Rachel Dratch to talk about her role and about comedy in general. The film is set in Greece where a travel guide has to deal with a rag tag group of tourists. Dratch plays "Kim", an overly obnoxious American tourist. This light-hearted comedy also stars Richard Dryfus and Nia Vardalos. The following is that interview and you can hear it as well at http://www.mungleshow.com/mlir_rd.mp3
Mungle: Thanks for taking time to chat with us today.
Mungle: I know these tour days can be hectic, it’s been kinda like speed dating almost.
Dratch: Oh my god, that’s a good analogy!
Mungle: I saw the film yesterday and it has a lot of heart to it. I think from the previews it sort of looks like it’s going to be just a light-hearted romantic comedy. But there’s some deep moments in this that I think people are going to be surprised by. When you go into a film like this, do you approach it different than you do sketch comedy? Did they tell you to be these obnoxious Americans, and just do anything you can when you’re in there? Did you have a script to follow, or did they just let you play with it?
Dratch: It depends on the scene. I mean, sometimes it was pretty scripted and other times they’d just be like, oh, just make something up while you’re standing out here on the golf course or that little putt putt thing. Sometimes we would of discuss beforehand what we might say or we’d just improvise. And other times we just stuck to the script pretty well.
Mungle: Is there a different approach to that type comedy?
Dratch: Well, I think with our parts, the parts of the tourists, our characters are pretty sketchy, so I think I kind of approached this like SNL but then I think the larger picture of this movie… we were kind of the comic backdrop for the sort of more, as you said, heart-filled or whatever the word would be… the real sort of moments of the story. So yeah, I think I individually approached it as I would anything else. But I also think that because of the main story, the love story and the story with Richard Dryfuss, that even though we were allowed to improvise and stuff, we were always aware that we were more of a backdrop. So we’d never come in and be like, oh I got this kooky idea where I take over the whole focus of the scene. You were always doing your little to contribute to the bigger picture.
Mungle: Did you shoot this in Greece?
Dratch: Yeah, we shot it in Greece. And some if it we shot in Spain actually. I had never been to Greece before so I really felt like I won some sort of prize on the Price Is Right or something (laughs)… I got to go to Greece and just hang out.
Mungle: I think we’ve all been in those situations with a tour where you’re thrown in with these people you’ve never met. I think the movie was funny in the aspect that it did bring out these characteristics and I’m watching it going, there is always that guy who thinks he’s funny, there’s always the people that are just wasted off their butts …
Dratch: Yeah, well you know what? The guy who wrote this, Mike Reiss, he based it off of some real trips he’s done. Y’know, he said he really did have a tour guide named Poopy. Like, which sounds so jokey but then I found out, oh that was real. So it kind of makes it a little more clever when you realize it’s real. But he said there really was a lady that stole things, so a lot of this was based on real experience for the writer.
Mungle: Nothing’s more funny that real life a lot of times.
Dratch: I know. Yeah.
Mungle: I grew up in a family of musicians and so music was always a big part of what we did, but as a comedian did you grow up in a family where everyone was always joking and improvising and being funny?
Dratch: I kinda did. I mean, it’s just me and my brother, but my dad grew up in a big, basically immigrant family and he was the youngest, so definitely is a funny guy. I remember even when we were little he was always making up crazy songs on car rides and stuff, he’s truly funny. So I think we kind of did grow up with that sort of in the air, you know? And then also, growing up my friends from home, even when I was little, I grew up with this funny group of funny girls. So we were always trying to crack each other up. So that too, I dunno, sort of all contributed to me liking comedy.
Mungle: So it wasn’t one day you woke up and said hey, I’m just sort of funny? Y’know, I could make a living at this?
Dratch: When I was really little I watched the original SNL with Gilda Radner and Bill Murray and all them, so I was always into comedy viewing as well as… doing. So, I dunno... I wasn’t a kid who was like, I wanna be an actor! And I wasn’t even like that in college. I was just sort of like, oh this is fun and I’ll try to keep doing it. But I was never really, I was never one to be like, eyes on the prize people about acting.
Mungle: After seven seasons on SNL, is there pressure now for you to think you have to be funny? Like if you’re in a group of people, do ever just wake up one day and go I’m just not gonna be funny today, I’m just gonna be cloudy?
Dratch: Oh yeah, definitely. Most people on SNL are super funny in real life, but they’re also, fortunately, real people who you have a real conversation with too. I think it would be weird if someone was always on, I think that gets a little exhausting. Y’know, I can also a little shy too so I’m definitely not the, hey look at me everyone kind of person.
Mungle: Is it hard to find a really good comedic role as a woman or are there more coming along?
Dratch: Y’know, that question, I never know how to answer because I think coming up, and doing improve at SNL, I never felt, sort of whatever the word, discriminated… I never felt like it’s harder. As a matter of fact, in Chicago, it’s probably easier because there were so many guys trying to do it and not as many women, so if you were halfway decent, you could perform a lot on these improve teams. So, back then it was kind of demanded. The only time I see it as a little harder is now that I’m out in the “real word,” off of SNL. I think there’s probably more opportunities, better scripts and stuff, for men, for comedians, but at the same time a lot of those guys are writing their own stuff and they’re having to work just as hard. So, I dunno. Still a mystery to me.
Mungle: I think as long as you’re having fun with it and it’s staying relevant and new and not getting stale, then you just kind of flow with it I guess.
Dratch: Yes, exactly. You kind of hope something comes along and then also try to create your own stuff at the same time.
Mungle: Well, you did great and it was good to see you in a film like this. It is a funny film. To encourage people to come out and see it, who do you think the core audience is going to be?
Dratch: It’s probably people who liked My Big Fat Greek Wedding will like this because Nia is such a presence, I think, like a positive presence and then also, I don’t know, this is kinda kooky but I just think with the economy the way it is, it’s kind of like a free trip, it’s like a little fantasy escape kind of sweet movie. So if you can’t afford the real trip to Greece this summer, this might be the next best thing.
Mungle: The next best thing. Yeah, especially since it is shot there, ‘cause I didn’t want to push this like, hey see all the cool stuff in Greece if you guys shot on a backlot with a bluescreen.
Dratch: (laughs) Well, some of it we did, but most of it… well, the real monuments were really there, so yeah, the Acropolis and Delphi and Olympia, we were all shooting and the Greek market and all that stuff… we were really there.
Mungle: Well, cool, looks like you guys had a great time and I really appreciate your time today. I know it’s a busy, hectic schedule promoting these things, so we really do sincerely appreciate your time.
Dratch: Oh, thank you. I think the speed date went very well.
Mungle: Yes, it did. I think we connected.
Dratch: (laughs) Well, thank