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ENJOY | The Green Life

By Avital Binshtock

Nukeable Nutrition | SNL's Rachel Dratch | A Forest in a Box


Photo by Mary Ellen Matthews

Rachel Dratch, best known for her Debbie Downer character on Saturday Night Live, recently volunteered her comedic talents for a televised public-service announcement in which she chastises a woman for running her dishwasher before it's full. "By 2013, it's estimated that 36 states will face water shortages," she says. But instead of the familiar trombone-and-frown sign-off, she smiles, and viewers get directed to Dratch, 45, took time out of her busy new-mother schedule to answer a few questions.

Q: How did you come up with Debbie Downer?

A: I was in a conversation, and someone said some really downer thing that just screeched the whole group vibe to a halt, and I thought, that would make a good character. When I started doing the character, I'd insert environmental issues because I'd think of things that bum me out. In the very first sketch, we were at Disney World, and I was like, "With that costume on, Pluto's probably in the early stages of heatstroke. Speaking of heat, if this greenhouse effect keeps up, we'll all be living underwater."

Q: What's the trick to bringing out the humor in a depressing situation?

A: I don't know—I hate trying to analyze comedy. If it gets laughs, it's funny.

Q: Can environmentalists become Debbie Downers?

A: Probably. Personally, I don't even read bummer news stories about the environment, because it makes me feel helpless to fix anything and reminds me that the general population doesn't treat these issues as an important part of our political life.

Q: Are comedians generally optimistic or pessimistic?

A: Many comedians have a dark side that lets them take a negative thing and turn it funny. But it's hard to generalize like that, because comedians are as different from each other as regular people are.

Q: Can comedy help heal the planet?

A: Probably not.

NEXT: A Forest in a Box

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