The YouTube Sensation: Rachel Bloom

14Refinery-785b_R_SIZEDPhotographed by Rene & Radka.
There are few sci-fi writers who received a birthday gift like the one Rachel Bloom gave Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451, Something Wicked This Way Comes) in 2010. Of course, this present was also the best thing the NYU Tisch grad could have done for her career; the musical comedy video, "Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury" is still the actress' biggest YouTube hit to date. It’s also the one that put her on the map and earned her professional representation.
However, Bloom does not stand out because she propositioned her literary crush on the Internet, but rather because her entire YouTube channel is filled with the same kind of bawdy, timely, somewhat ridiculous, and endlessly entertaining videos that blend comedy and music in a way that few modern-day musicals can. "I Steal Pets," "I Was A Mermaid Now I'm A Pop Star," and "You Can Touch My Boobies" are just a few examples. But, it's not Broadway that Bloom, 27, is headed for (at least, not now). She just began filming Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, a musical comedy that Showtime has picked up for a pilot. (She plays the lead.) This could be the Cali native's major breakout role, transitioning her from the computer screen to the silver screen and bringing her own unique and unapologetically truthful brand of musical theater to a platform much bigger than any stage.

You've written some pretty risky lyrics. Do you ever second-guess anything? How does your filter work?
“Oh, I second-guess all the time. All the time. Generally, stuff will come to me very impulsively, in a moment where I’ll be like, 'That was great!' Then, a day later, I’ll be like, 'Is that great?' The stuff that I second-guess is the stuff that is almost too simple. I’m a little afraid of simplicity because it’s so simple that it’s like, If you don’t like this joke then you don’t like this song. Actually, I had this song I was working on for the past year about obsessive compulsive disorder, and for a long time I thought I was afraid to do it because I thought I was making fun of OCD. And, I finally started doing it onstage, prefacing it with the fact that when I was a kid, I developed OCD. And, the song kills. It does so well. So, for the longest time, I second-guessed that song, because I was like, 'Does this seem like I’m poking fun at OCD for no reason?' Then, I started to second-guess everything about it, so I think if anything, I second-guess overall ideas, not as much jokes. Jokes you can tell if it’s good easier, for whatever reason. But, the song idea, you’re like, 'I think this is funny. Does anyone else think this is funny?' Premises are scarier.”

15Rachel_Bloom_Refinery-618_R2_SIZEDPhotographed by Rene & Radka.

How much of your work is autobiographical? And, which of your songs represent you best?
“Much of it is autobiographical. ‘Pictures of Your Dick’ — it’s about a girl who posts pictures of her ex-boyfriend’s dick on the internet — that one is emotionally very autobiographical. That song is a revenge fantasy on some of my ex-boyfriends. The emotion of that is very true to me, where I’m like, 'I just want to be petty.' But, I’ve never actually had the balls to do that. ‘I Steal Pets’ — that was based on my middle school experience. I didn’t actually steal pets. The video is about a girl that steals pets from popular kids and dresses them up. And, I didn’t do that, but the motivation for the video was I saw the video 'Friday,' and what struck me about the video was how derivative it was of all of these sort of pre-teen videos where it’s like, 'I’m 12. Life is great!' And, I’m like, when I was 12, life was horrible, and I wasn’t going to parties at all and I wasn’t having all these fun times. So, all videos come from some aspect of myself, but those two really especially stick out.”


Congrats on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend getting picked up for a pilot! What do we have to look forward to?
“So, I teamed up with this woman, Aline Brosh McKenna, who’s this amazing screenwriter — she wrote The Devil Wears Prada and she has the new Annie movie coming out, and she’s great. She just saw my videos online. It was just random. She saw my videos online, and said, 'I want to create a TV show with her.' And, she’d been wanting to write a movie called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. She’s like, What if that’s our TV show? I’m really excited about it. I play a girl who’s very unhappy with her life and runs into her ex-boyfriend from high school. It’s in a moment in her life where she’s already having a nervous breakdown, and [she] realizes that he’s the key to all [her] problems. So, she drops everything and very foolishly moves to where he is to try to win him back, which is this place called West Covina, which is just like a fairly regular suburb of Los Angeles. It’s like the New Jersey of Los Angeles. And, it’s a fucked up romantic comedy, because it’s giving up everything for love, when it’s in fact the wrong decision."

16Rachel_Bloom_Refinery-486_R_SIZEDPhotographed by Rene & Radka.

So, it’s not exactly an autobiographical for you this time. How do you connect to it?
“It’s emotionally autobiographical. The thing that’s very autobiographical about it for me is getting lost in the fantasy of love. So, I think this is imagining if I were in a situation where not only was I emotionally unhappy — and I’ve had problems with depression and anxiety, so I connect with some of the roots of her unhappiness in this. This is pushing all of my natural emotions to extremes. So, even though I’ve never been in this situation, it feels very real to me. Very true.”


What's the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever been given?
“Laziness is a form of fear.”

And, who told you that?
"I want to say a teacher said, 'Laziness is a form of fear,' but that’s a quote from someone else. And, I always think about that.”

Because you’re in the musical comedy space, what part do you think you play in the future of your genre or musical theatre in general? What's your hope for the future of this art form?
“My hopes for the musical theater space are that independent, truly original content is encouraged a bit more. Right now, Broadway is just a sea of stuff adapted from movies, or jukebox musicals, because that’s what people that come to Broadway want to see. But, I feel like in the golden age of musical theater, that didn’t use to be the case. And, that’s partially because musical theater songs were somewhat synonymous with pop songs, so I hope that the world of musical theater and just everyone else tries to grow into each other a little bit more, because right now it’s separate. I think Glee actually has helped that a little. But, I would love to see the worlds interacting a bit more.”

13Rachel_Bloom_Refinery-471_R_SIZED (1)Photographed by Rene & Radka.
Hair by Bethany Brill; Makeup by Riku ; Styled by Emily Holland ; Photographed by Rene & Radka.

Look 1: Preen coat; Topshop shoes.
Look 2: Creatures of Comfort sweater; Delfina Balda poncho; Luxury Rebel booties.

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