The CW sitcom Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, created by and starring comedian Rachel Bloom, is a joyous anomaly of television.
Despite its low ratings, the high level of critical acclaim carried the show through four glorious seasons, two Emmy wins and a Golden Globe for Bloom's performance as Rebecca Bunch, a successful woman who gives up her life to relocate to another American coast and pursue a long shot at love — which leads to some show-stopping musical numbers.
"It's a comedy that explores a type of character that's usually been explored as 'other' — the crazy ex-girlfriend, but from another point of view and an empathic point of view, and what's interesting is the extreme empathy it had for all of its characters and that we tried to understand what the characters are coming from," Bloom says. "We didn't view anything with a meme sensibility. We always try to understand where people are coming from, and the weird thing is all we did is write the show we'd want to watch and hoped people would get it."
Apparently, enough people got it and liked it enough to merit a series of live shows celebrating the romantic sitcom and its star's musical library, going back to her early days as one of the internet's first musical comedy YouTube stars. Bloom's latest tour, titled What Am I Going to Do With My Life Now? stopped at The Majestic Theatre on Wednesday.
"It feels like a very clean line," Bloom says, referring to the trajectory of her music videos, TV show and live tours. "The great thing with the TV show is I got discovered for it because I was doing music videos that came out of the live performances. So they're all one and the same. I'm also doing some of the same songs in this show that I first did five or six years ago, so it's a real combination of Crazy Ex songs and some new things. It's all just kind of contributing to a oeuvre, if you will."
Music has been a big part of Bloom's comedy and performing career. As a comedian, Bloom has performed live shows at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater in New York City and on the road, and written sketches for Adult Swim's Robot Chicken, while also auditioning for New York stage musicals in between. Bloom found her way by writing comedy songs that skewered the bubblegum pop genre by exploring frank and real themes — like her love ballad "Fuck Me Ray Bradbury;" a peppy tune about loneliness called "I Steal Pets From the Popular People;" and the sorrowful breakup song "Pictures of Your Dick" — because there weren't many traditional musical comedy numbers for women.
"I mean it is slim fucking pickings, especially for women because so many of the good roles are written for men and a lot of the 'comedy songs' for women are from the '70s, which is dated comedy," Bloom says. "It came from my own frustration of the lack of material, and it's part of the reason I was so passionate about making sure we got the sheet music from Crazy Ex."
She posted the sheet music online so people could use them in their auditions and "have good musical theater comedy audition songs that are genuinely funny, because most of the musical theater comedy audition songs are basically 'I'm going on a date today but my foot hurts,'" Bloom says.
The comedienne's love for parodying musical themes and romantic story tropes carried over to her sitcom, with songs like "Let's Generalize About Men," "The First Penis I Saw" and "Antidepressants Are So Not a Big Deal."
"I always felt like I didn't fit in any particular box," Bloom says. "If I had to put it into a box, I would say that I was a musical theater kid but I didn't fit cleanly into that box and there was something that always felt aspirational whenever I tried to do the earnest thing — whether it's musical theater or sexy pop.
"I was doing an impression of what the trope was supposed to be and the thing that freed me from that, which I think a lot of actors feel, is being bound by material in writing. I'm very interested and continue to be interested in taking established genres and tropes and finding my own spin on them and contrast with the way media life says it is as opposed to what life is."
The most beautiful part of Bloom's comedy and TV show are how unapologetic they are about bowing to an audience or demographic. Bloom says her comedy works best when it's something new that she'd personally like to see, which finds an audience because the ideas and themes are real and personal.
"The stuff I like the most is when it combines with personal experience and a heightened comedic idea," Bloom says. "At the end of the day, I just think of what I haven't seen before that I know to be true and the way I interpret that a lot is quite personal. That's the way I like writing. That specificity from being boldly oneself is interesting to me."
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