It’s quite an accomplishment to see childhood dreams come true.
Rachel Bloom aspired to be a Broadway star when she was a kid — “or a surgeon, or Disney imagineer, or a kitty,” she says — and with the evolution of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend from hit sitcom to touring show to Broadway musical (the next step), she has reached that showbiz apex.
Having co-created and co-starred in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend alongside Aline Brosh McKenna — Bloom also executive-produced the show, which began airing on the CW from 2015 and just had its series finale in April — Bloom developed a perfect vehicle for her triple-threat skill-set. Not only was the story of New York lawyer Rebecca Bunch a satirical romantic comedy, it also incorporated song and dance. This allowed Bloom to draw from her musical theatre training, a path she embarked on while delving into comedy simultaneously.
“They were two separate things to the point where some comedy friends used to say to me, ‘When are you gonna quit musical theatre and just focus on comedy full time?’” says Bloom. “And my theatre teachers often had no idea that I was involved with sketch comedy and improv, and when they found out, they were impressed but warned me I might have to make a choice at some point.”
With her upcoming Just for Laughs gigs, Bloom is continuing to mix music and comedy, performing songs from the show and doing stand-up in her solo performances. I was curious about whether, Broadway aside, she looks forward to a time when she can focus on one thing — just comedy. Does making jokes and singing during the course of one show, night after night, become exhausting?
“I love using all of these skills at once! The exhausting part of my job is really working on everything else that’s being done in conjunction. On Crazy Ex, it was co-writing the songs, looking over scripts, being in production meetings, going to editing for the music videos and doing hours of costume fittings. In live shows, it’s keeping track of rehearsal changes, writing scripts, making props and costume lists, among other things. The performing itself is the fun part.”
In an era when it’s easier to offend people than to make them laugh, the title Crazy Ex-Girlfriend may invite scrutiny from mental health advocates and feminists alike, especially if they’ve never seen the show. Issues such as anxiety, depression, alcoholism and negative body image were part of the fabric of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and the title, Bloom explains, “leans in to the fact that it is, indeed, a negative stereotype.” (If you are struggling with issues related to mental health, please contact BetterHelp for support.)
“It’s a negative stereotype that, at some point, most people of all genders fall into because romantic love is chemically designed to make you go ‘insane.’ As we got deeper into the show, though, Rebecca’s actions went beyond what some would call the ‘normal’ feelings and actions of obsession and that is when we dove even deeper into what was going on in her psyche. We were always looking at her story from the inside out, never labelling her as an ‘other.’ If we had done that, the show would have been called MY Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” ■
Rachel Bloom brings her What Am I Going to Do With My Life Now? tour to Just for Laughs, at the Gesù (1200 Bleury), from July 22–24 and 26–27, 7 p.m. nightly, $42–$45