Time Out New York, July 13-20, 2000, P. 77

   Saturday Night Specials

   SNL's Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch have found a hilarious way to spend their summer vacations. 

   By Greg Emmanuel

   A woman sits alone onstage, her jaw clenched and slightly askew. She looks 
   like shes in pain - and in fact, she reveals, shes been mauled by a puma. 
   Thats odd enough, but when a former Playboy centerfold bearing flowers 
   stops in for a visit, things get really strange - and extremely hilarious. 
   Welcome to the twisted comedic minds of Rachel Dratch and Tina Fey. The 
   puma-and-Playboy bit is part of their new sketch how, Dratch and Fey, by 
   far the funniest thing to be found on any New York comedy stage this summer 
   (they will appear this week at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater Monday 
   17 and Wednesday 19).
   If comedy had a graduate school, it would be Chicagos Second City. Dratch 
   and Fey met and performed together at the venerable institution that has 
   spawned the careers of talents from the likes of Mike Nichols and Chris 
   Farley. Fey left Chicago in 1997 to join the writing team at Saturday Night 
   Live, and last year, she was named the first female head writer on the 
   long-running show, known in the past as something of a boys club. The two 
   have been working together again since last fall, when Dratch became a 
   featured performer on SNL. (You may have seen her impersonating Calista 
   Flockhart or playing one of the kids from Boston with Jimmy Fallon.)
   Ive always liked Tinas sensibilities, says Dratch. She just surprises 
   me a lot onstage-in a good way. She has a little bit of an edge to her 
   whereas Im a little bit more goofy. This difference between the two is 
   highlighted in the opening of their fast-paced one-hour show: Dratch comes 
   onstage to announce that she will be performing a one-woman show about the 
   obscure historical Edwina Garth Burnham. Simultaneously, Fey takes the 
   stage to perform her one-woman show - of cunt poems.
   Its these incouragous moments that make Dratch and Fey so refreshing. 
   The type of characters that I like to play are more world-weary and 
   bitter, says Fey. Rachel plays the more hopeful, wide-eyed type. Both 
   are equally gifted in their ability to play a number of very different 
   characters with minimal props (although Scotch tape is used to great effect 
   in one skit mocking plastic surgery), relying instead on different voices 
   and body language.
   The show came together almost as quickly as one of their sketches unfolds. 
   when they decided last summer to do something as a pair (Dratch was bored 
   and Fey was on hiatus from SNL), they gave themselves just two weeks to 
   write before debuting in Chicago. The show is mostly made up of material 
   the two improvised in rehearsal, along with a couple of pieces that Fey 
   wrote for SNL that never aired and a couple that Dratch wrote herself. 
   Those rehearsals bore some sidesplitting fruit, such as a bit called Mr. 
   Willoughby, in which the two play Jane Austen-era women who are extolling 
   the virtues of an eligible bachelor, Mr. Willoughby (really an ugly creep, 
   but they act like hes a real catch). His eyebrows are most expressive, 
   says Fey dreamily, in a refined English accent. Especially the top one. 
   Dratch later adds with a lovers glee: He reeks of urine!
   In The Lottery - a sketch that was rescued from SNLs graveyard of 
   unaired bits - Fey plays a white-trash thug who has some grand plans for the 
   money hes won (Im gonna buy the rights to Coke, so I can change the name 
   to Ape Semen!). It actually belongs to NBC, says Fey of the sketch. I 
   mentioned it to [executive producer] Lorne [Michaels]. I said, Are you 
   gonna come see our show? Because you own part of it.
   Since both Dratch and Fey have pretty prestigious day jobs, theyre not 
   necessarily hungry for that big break, but they are anxious to see where 
   this show might lead them. They hope first to extend the current run at UCB 
   through the summer, and they will be performing in L.A. next week for 
   various industry types. The fantasy might be to get some sort of TV 
   special, says Dratch. But I dont know how well it would translate. She 
   adds: At SNL, you dont have control over your show. So its been fun to 
   just be able to do what you want.