Whether it was with spot-on impressions or a wealth of original characters like her most famous creation Debbie Downer, comic performer Rachel Dratch proved to be an invaluable addition to the cast of the long-running variety show, "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ). After joining "SNL" in 1999, Dratch quickly made a name for herself in a wide range of characters like Nicole, the Girl with No Gaydar; Sheldon from Wake Up, Wakefield!; and a reject X-Men character that was the spawn of Angelina Jolie and her brother. She also was memorable for innumerable impersonations such as Arianna Huffington, Hilary Clinton, Martha Stewart and Elijah Wood. Like many "SNL" alum before her, Dratch made the jump to feature films with comedies like "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star" (2003) and "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry" (2007), but only as a supporting player and often in small roles. Despite an embarrassing casting snafu when she was replaced on her friend Tina Fey's new sitcom "30 Rock" (NBC, 2006-13), Dratch continued to shine on the small screen with a recurring role on "King of Queens" (CBS, 1998-2007) and a starring voice role in short-lived sitcom "Imaginary Mary" (ABC 2017), while also striving to make headway on the big screen in films like "Just Go with It" (2011) and "Sisters" (2015). It was apparent to fans of all comic stripes that Dratch would always enliven and elevate any project with her sharp comedic skills.
Born Feb. 22, 1966 in Lexington, MA, Dratch was raised by her father, Paul, a radiologist, and her mother, Elaine, a transportation director. The future cutup watched "Saturday Night Live" as a child, idolizing in particular the show's groundbreaking female cast member, Gilda Radner. While attending Lexington High School, the creative teen split her time between learning to play the cello and auditioning for school plays. Her good grades eased the way to Dartmouth College, where she studied psychology, though she continued to try her hand at acting. It was during her involvement with an improv comedy team that she began to take seriously the idea of pursing comedy as a career. After graduating college in 1988, she took the plunge and moved to Chicago with hopes of joining the Second City comedy troupe - the stomping ground for many famed "SNL" alumni. But first she joined another comedy group, the Improv Olympic, before auditioning for classes at Second City. In the meantime, she worked a variety of odd jobs to pay the bills - everything from a run-of-the-mill clerical temp to dressing as Tweety Bird for a Warner Bros. store stint.
After a few years of classes, Dratch finally joined Second City's touring group to learn the ropes before becoming part of the company's main stage revue, Piñata Full of Bees. After earning accolades for her work in the revue, she made a brief appearance at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, before moving on to her next Second City revue in 1996. It was during this particular show that she became fast friends with future "SNL" castmate, Tina Fey. Eventually, the performers created the two-woman show, "Dratch & Fey," which they restaged years later to great success. When Fey was recruited to become head writer of "SNL" in 1997, Dratch auditioned for the show, but was not initially hired. She continued to perform in Second City until another "SNL" audition in 1999 cinched the deal, reuniting her with Fey and giving her featured player status on her dream gig.
After her first "SNL" performance as Calista Flockhart, Dratch quickly carved out a cadre of memorably quirky characters, including Denise of the heavily-accented "Boston teens" sketch with Jimmy Fallon; Sheldon, an awkward high school boy and star of the high school morning show, "Wake Up, Wakefield" with Maya Rudolph; and Virginia, the oversexed wife of "luvah" Will Ferrell and one-half of the swinging couple, the Klarvins. Another recurring Dratch favorite was "The Girl with no Gaydar," in which she played a single girl clueless that the plethora of supposedly available men around her are actually gay, and ultimately interested in her - a character that was based on an experience she had at a college party. But her best known character was the relentlessly dour, buzz-killing Debbie Downer. Dratch's first performance of the character was so inspired that her seasoned castmates, as well as guest host, Lindsay Lohan, repeatedly broke character, laughing every time she uttered a typical downer observation. Dratch proved so reliable, she became an official cast member at the beginning of the 2001-02 season.
Outside of "SNL," Dratch's biggest role was that of recurring character Denise on several episodes of "King of Queens" (CBS, 1998-2007), starting in 2003. Before the sitcom, she played a mentally challenged patient in an episode of the NBC drama, "Third Watch" (1999-2005) in 2000, and voiced a character on the popular animated Disney show, "Kim Possible" (2002-07). She also wrote and directed the short comedy film, "The Vagina Monologues Monologues," which premiered at the New York Comedy Film Festival in 2001. Her big screen efforts include a brief role in the David Spade feature film, "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star" (2003) and in the romantic comedy "Down with Love" (2003), as well as Adam Goldberg's offbeat indie comedy, "The Hebrew Hammer" (2003). Dratch also appeared in the Adam Sandler comedies "Click" (2006), and "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry" (2007), and had a small role in "My Life in Ruins" (2009). On television, she joined the cast of good friend Fey's new sitcom "30 Rock" (NBC, 2006-13) for the pilot, only to see her role fail with test audiences and be recast with Jane Krakowski. After co-starring with Amy Poehler and Parker Posey in the direct-to-video comedy "Spring Breakdown" (2009), she appeared in the romantic comedy "I Hate Valentine's Day" (2009) and reunited with Sandler for the hit comedy "Just Go with It" (2011). After the publication of her best-selling 2012 memoir Girl Walks Into A Bar, which recounted stories about her comedy career and unexpected late foray into motherhood, Dratch settled into a steady career as a comic character actress appearing on series ranging from animated cult hits "Bob's Burgers" (Fox 2011) and "The Awesomes" (Hulu 2013-15) to sitcom faves "The Middle" (ABC 2009- ) and "Parks and Recreation" (NBC 2009-2015). Dratch also co-starred in Adam Sandler's "That's My Boy" and Paula Pell's "Sisters" (2015), as well as the indie drama "The Grief of Others" (2016). Dratch moved to prime time TV in the title role of fantasy sitcom "Imaginary Mary" (ABC 2017) opposite Jenna Elfman, but the series was canceled after a single season.
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Landed recurring role as Denise on "King of Queens"
Performed on "A.S.S.S.S.C.A.T. Improv"
Cast opposite Adam Sandler in the comedy "Click," directed by Frank Coraci
Cast in Edward Burns' "Looking for Kitty"
Had a small role in "My Life in Ruins"
Co-starred with "SNL" alum Amy Poehler and Parker Posey in the direct-to-video "Spring Breakdown"
Once again worked with Sandler in the comedy "Just Go with It"
Appeared on two episodes of "Difficult People"