Not My Job: Actress Rachel Bloom Gets Quizzed On Crazy Ex-Boyfriends
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
We’ve got one more favorite interview for you today. It’s with the creator and star of one of the oddest and best new TV shows of the year. Her name is Rachel Bloom, and her show is called “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” And she joined us in May.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST, APPLAUSE)
RACHEL BLOOM: Thank you. Oh, my gosh, I wish I could experience that audience for realsies.
SAGAL: I wish you could, too, because they are extremely attractive.
BLOOM: Oh, OK.
SAGAL: They are. So I want to be fair, I just started watching your show this week, and I find it hilarious. But did I describe it accurately? It's about - your character who you play, Rebecca, is an obsessive stalker of her ex who's vaguely based on you and your life?
BLOOM: Yeah. I mean, I'd like to think it's an emotional autobiography. The show is about one person's search for happiness and how she conflates obsessive love with that. And she's wrong.
BLOOM: And so in some sense, she's like this bubbly Walter White. Like, you know she's wrong the whole time.
SAGAL: I love that - she's a bubbly Walter White.
SAGAL: She's Walter White except she's female, played by you and breaks into song because this is the great thing about the show if you haven't heard that every show you have up to three original musical numbers, right?
BLOOM: Correct. But they're, like, funny, so the people who are like, oh, I don't like musicals - no, no, no, it's, like, funny. So...
BLOOM: ...Just like...
SAGAL: It's funny. Were you always one of those people who wished that life were a musical so when you were sad you could just burst into song and there'd be a backing band in the closet?
BLOOM: (Singing) I don't know, I guess so.
SAGAL: So you first got noticed with this YouTube video, a song I cannot say the name of. But it is about wanting to have sex with one Ray Bradbury, the famous science-fiction writer.
HELEN HONG: Wow.
BLOOM: Yeah, that's - yes, that's a hundred-percent true.
SAGAL: And - and...
P J O'ROURKE: Wow, here or on Mars or where?
SAGAL: And so I got to ask, where did - I mean...
HONG: That's hot and nerdy.
TOM BODETT: Yeah.
SAGAL: And I read, like...
SAGAL: You did this when you were, like, a starving-artist type person just out of school and you wanted to do something cool and make your mark. And you spent, like, all your money on it, is that right?
BLOOM: Yeah. Well, I knew I wanted to be kind of my own one-person sketch group. And I had been going through a breakup. And I was reading – re-reading "The Martian Chronicles," which is still my favorite book. And I was realizing that what Ray Bradbury does and one of the reasons I love reading him is that he uses high concepts - these science-fiction fantasy concepts to really explore emotion and how - the interaction between living beings and...
SAGAL: OK, now this - all right, I read Ray Bradbury. You're absolutely right. He was an amazing - he was an underappreciated American master...
SAGAL: But I did not read or reread "The Martian Chronicles" and say I'm going to do a - I'm going to proposition the man in a music video.
SAGAL: So tell me how you get from, like, yes, "The Martian Chronicles," a wonderful...
SAGAL: ...Book, I'm so glad I like it to dressing doesn't up like Britney Spears and leering at a camera and making incredibly indecent suggestions to Mr. Bradbury.
BLOOM: OK, so I at the time had been writing a lot of sketch comedy. And when you think of a funny idea, you kind of immediately want to think of a sketch. And I was like, oh, it would be funny to do, like, a sexy love song about Ray Bradbury. And I wrote out a rough version on the piano, and then I forgot about it for a year and a half. And when I graduated from school and I wanted to make my mark and kind of be my own one-person sketch group, I was, like, oh, that song could be a really funny, like, first internet video for me. So I didn't realize how much people would emotionally connect with the video, and it went super viral in a way that I hadn't predicted. And it got me, like, noticed and representation and...
BLOOM: ...Everything a young actor ever wants.
SAGAL: If you're listening to this on a podcast, I want you to pause it, watch the video and come back.
SAGAL: All right, so Rachel, the video is a proposition.
SAGAL: It's in the second-person imperative to Ray Bradbury. Did Ray Bradbury ever respond to your suggestion?
BLOOM: He did.
HONG: Let's play that.
BLOOM: I met him…
HONG: Privately, privately, like, how privately?
BLOOM: It was not (laughter). But no, I met him and, like, I dressed (laughter) to be ultimately so respectful. He liked the video, but I want to be respectful. So I just - I wore, like, my most conservative outfit. I wore my glasses, and I just asked him about his books the whole time. I...
HONG: Oh, Rachel, you could have done it with Ray Bradbury.
BLOOM: I could've...
SAGAL: Honest to God.
BLOOM: He was in his 90s, but, you know, I guess I could've made it work.
BLOOM: But I - no, instead I was boring and I just asked him about his books the whole time, like a dork.
BLOOM: It was a very, like, wonderful respectful conversation, and I'll remember it for the rest of my life because he is just really a terrific - was a terrific, brilliant author.
SAGAL: And here I am trying to make it all sordid. I'm sorry.
BLOOM: Yeah, what are you doing? God, someone makes a video about wanting to have sex with Ray Bradbury, and you've got to make it all gross?
BLOOM: So immature.
SAGAL: Well, Rachel Bloom, we are delighted to talk to you. We've asked you here to play a game we're calling...
BILL KURTIS: No Really, This Time I'll Change.
SAGAL: You're the expert, obviously, on crazy ex-girlfriends. So naturally, we decided to ask you about crazy ex-boyfriends - just as funny, sometimes dangerous.
SAGAL: Answer two of these three questions correctly and you'll win a prize for one of our listeners - Carl Kasell's voice on their voicemail. Bill, who is Rachel Bloom playing for?
KURTIS: John Ruxin of Missoula, Mont.
SAGAL: All right.
SAGAL: Here's your first question - men find ways and places to complain about their exes all the time. When did a guy named Kary Mullis manage to vent his feelings about his ex? Was it A, in his wedding vows to his new wife, B, in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, or C, during his play-by-play of game seven of the Stanley Cup finals?
BLOOM: I'm going to guess it's wedding vows.
SAGAL: You're going to guess wedding vows?
SAGAL: No, you were on the right track. It was actually during his Nobel Prize acceptance speech.
BLOOM: I was going to guess that. Oh, man.
SAGAL: Kary Mullis won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He's the guy who made all this DNA testing possible with his discovery.
BLOOM: God, I'm the worst.
SAGAL: In the speech describing this discovery, he kept mentioning his ex-girlfriend, Jennifer, as in - and I quote him - "on the increasingly numerous days when she hated me, my ideas and I suffered her scorn together," unquote.
BLOOM: Wow, that's - oh, my God.
SAGAL: It is truly the most technically impenetrable and saddest Nobel Prize acceptance speech you will ever read.
BLOOM: That's unbelievable. What year was that?
SAGAL: This was around 1990, if I'm not mistaken.
HONG: He invented DNA testing?
SAGAL: He invented the chemical technique that makes DNA testing possible.
HONG: Was he not the daddy? Is that why he was so mad?
O'ROURKE: That would be a good guess.
HONG: Yeah. He was not the daddy.
SAGAL: Next question - Brandon Preveau of Chicago is one of the world's worst and most inventive ex-boyfriend's. In 1999, he did what? A, he gave $50,000 to an animal shelter here in Chicago on the condition they name each and every dog after his ex...
SAGAL: ...B, he created a Yelp account in her name and gave horrible reviews to her favorite bars and restaurants so she would be banned, or C, he parked his ex-girlfriend's $600 1999 Chevy Monte Carlo at O'Hare Airport and left it there long enough to rack up $100,000 dollars in parking tickets.
BLOOM: Oh, man. I'm going to go with C.
SAGAL: You're going to go with C. And you're right.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: It was C.
SAGAL: You asked, how come she never noticed her car was missing? That's because what he did was he bought a car, registered it in her name without her knowledge...
SAGAL: ...And parked it at O'Hare to leave it there to rack up tickets...
HONG: Oh, that's way more diabolical...
BLOOM: Oh, my God...
SAGAL: Isn't it, though?
HONG: The yeah.
O'ROURKE: That's an angry boyfriend.
SAGAL: It is. All right, here's your last question. You can win it here. When a woman named Maggie Grace was having trouble with an ex who would not just go away, what did she do? A, she started a podcast which was just her reading from her diary about him called I'll Stop When You Stop...
SAGAL: ...B, she enlisted the guy's mother, his three sisters, his seventh-grade teacher and four of his other exes to stage a public intervention, or C, she got Liam Neeson to call him and leave a threatening message in his character from the movie "Taken."
HONG: Oh, that'd be so good.
SAGAL: I'll give you a hint. The name of the person, Maggie Grace, is a bit of a clue.
BLOOM: Oh, is it a podcast?
SAGAL: It is...
HONG: Maggie Grace is the name of the actress who plays Liam Neeson's daughter in "Taken."
BLOOM: All right, so it's...
O'ROURKE: Said Helen in secret code.
HONG: But you didn't hear it from me.
BLOOM: So I didn't know that. So now, you know, after thinking about it...
BLOOM: ...I'm going to have to guess C.
SAGAL: You're right, Rachel.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL, APPLAUSE)
SAGAL: Bill, how did Rachel Bloom do on our quiz?
KURTIS: Rachel got (singing) one wrong and two right.
KURTIS: (Singing) And of course, Helen got one of those.
SAGAL: Rachel Bloom is the star, writer and co-creator of "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," which you can see Monday nights on the CW. Rachel Bloom, thank you so much for joining us.
BLOOM: Thank you.
SAGAL: That does it for our attempt to avoid at least one hour of beautiful sunshine.
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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
SAGAL: This is NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.