Girl Walks Into A Bar...
I am drawn to HIWs—highly intelligent women—and if they happen to have a keen sense of humor and are good looking, it’s a perfect storm. I read books they write, which can be alien and scary, like, Don Quixote, by Kathy Acker, poignant and inspiring, like Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, or funny and touching, like one I finished yesterday, Girl walks Into A Bar..., by Rachel Dratch.
Dratch is a comic actor, and if not a household name, is recognized in public by fans of Saturday Night Live. In my HIW gallery, female comics have a special place; they intimidate me. Not all, I hasten to add. Lily Tomlin and Whoopi Goldberg can put me in stitches without losing one iota of lovable goddess-of-the-harvest appeal. But I’m daunted by those who play up their witch-bitch side like Phyllis Diller and Joan Rivers, and also chromium beauties like Tina Fey, Margaret Cho, and Sarah Silverman. Who’d dare be a loving companion to someone who sees through every move you make, and can turn anything into a laugh? Rachel Dratch, whose humor hisses and disses (herself, mostly) on every page, didn’t entirely answer that question, yet did relax me about it. Her book reveals a search for Mr Right, made difficult by shyness and what seemed to be an irresistible urge to go for numberless Mr. Wrongs,
She starts with the usual pre-teen discovery of performing, followed by a stumbling path into show buz, to find herself among her kind in the improvisational nexus of Chicago’s Second City. This led to a 15-year stint at SNL, yet the sub-text is always Mr. Right, and how to find him among the (alcohol, drug, and sex) addicts, gal pals, and gays with whom she normally consorted and felt safe, and who cut her off from prospective loving partners.
If she never quite worked that out, it sort of worked itself out despite her, and I began to understand that a wisecracking HIW can also be a vulnerable soul longing for a soul mate. Dratch’s book doesn’t quite have a fairy tale ending, yet she does get the one thing she most wants. If she writes a sequel, I’ll be an advance customer.