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Before Rachel Bloom’s interview on NPR’s Ask Me Another even started, the show’s house musician Jonathan Coulton stopped to express his admiration of her “songwriting talent that makes me angry and jealous.”
“You know that somebody’s good when you kind of can’t stand it,” Coulton said.
Bloom made her name by creating hilarious songs, like her breakout hit “**** Me, Ray Bradbury” and “The Sexy Getting Ready Song” from her CW musical comedy series, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
In her new book, I Want To Be Where The Normal People Are, Bloom writes that, growing up, she used performance as a way to try to fit in. She recounted one story from the book to Ask Me Another host Ophira Eisenberg: her ill-fated attempt to impress the popular kids at her school by taking part in a lip-syncing contest. While the other kids chose pop songs to lip sync to, Bloom explains, “I did ‘Adelaide’s Lament’ from Guys & Dolls. So if you’re trying to win over middle schoolers in a cool beach town, that’s not the way to do it.”
The lip-sync contest might not have worked out exactly like she hoped, but her musical theatre and comedy talents eventually led to co-creating Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which married a sitcom sensibility with original musical numbers in every episode.
Upon the show’s finale, TV critic Emily Nussbaum wrote, “There’s something jazz-hands lovely to what this deceptively small show accomplished while expanding the boundaries of television.”
The late Adam Schlesinger was Bloom’s writing partner on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and an in-development musical adaptation of TV’s The Nanny. Schlesinger died this past April from complications related to COVID-19. In the full interview, Bloom discussed the tragedy and difficulty of that loss, and his impact on the entertainment industry.
Bloom also shared how her life changed this past year with the birth of her child, and played a game merging her love of sci-fi writer Ray Bradbury and her love of amusement parks.
On losing her writing partner Adam Schlesinger to COVID-19:
He could not only produce any genre, but he could write any genre. He just inhaled pop culture in a way that I only see people in their early 20s doing, and he had the energy, the creative energy of anyone still 23 years old. Which is why it’s infuriating that he’s gone, because you hear “52” and like, that’s young, but that’s not like someone in their early 20s, but he had the energy, and creative arsenal of someone in their early 20s. So he was probably not even halfway through all of the things he was gonna do.
On shooting the “**** Me, Ray Bradbury” music video:
Actually, when we shot that video, we shot it in an old Catholic school in Brooklyn that since has closed for film shoots, but I paid $400 to get this entire Cathlic school for a day. But, it was still connected to the Catholic church, and so there would be a priest wandering around. And so I told everyone, “Don’t let the priest know the title of the video we’re filming.” And I actually recorded a separate clean version of the song to play in case the priest came in, so at the very least we could keep filming if he wanted to stay and watch for a while. But it replaced all the expletives with sound effects like boi-oi-oi-oi-oing or one of them was a baby crying like “Wah!” I also told the dancers, “If the priest comes in, cover up.” Just because we were very scantily-clad.
On Ray Bradbury’s house:
You walk into the living room, and the mantle was covered in CableACE Awards. He had quite a lot of CableACE Awards. There was a huge stuffed Bullwinkle, from Rocky & Bullwinkle, in the room. And then once you got into his office there was, first of all, his writing space, but it was kind of set up for him to kind of hold court.
On meeting Tracy Morgan:
When I was an intern at SNL, Tracy Morgan was hosting, and he was saying to me and another intern, “It’s Thursday night! Why are you here? You should be at home watching my show, 30 Rock!” And I was like, “Actually, I’m writing a spec script of your show for my TV writing class.” And he was like, “You got any questions for me?” And I was like, “Ah….” and he was like, “Ask me a question!” I’m open!” And I couldn’t think of a question, and they were like, “And, action!” and I could never ask him anything again.