How Rachel Bloom Turned a Standup Show Into a Death-Defying Solo Musical

Rachel Bloom remembers the exact moment that she decided her latest stage project, “Death, Let Me Do My Show,” couldn’t be the lightweight standup show she was hoping it would be. It was when she stood in front of a white board looking at an outline of the jokes she intended to tell, reading phrases like “pregnancy tests” and “my butthole is like the hurricane.”

Listen to this week’s “Stagecraft” podcast below:

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“There’s nothing dumber than seeing standup bits or comedy songs bullet-pointed out,” Bloom says on the latest episode of “Stagecraft,” Variety’s theater podcast. “It’s just these things out of context that only you understand. I looked at it and thought: This is so stupid. I don’t think there’s room for this in the world anymore.”

So “Death, Let Me Do My Show” became a genre-bending hybrid with elements of a one-act musical. The show itself reflects that transformation, which was prodded by two real-life events that coincided in the early weeks of the COVID-19 lockdown: the birth of Bloom’s child and the death of her close friend and collaborator, musician Adam Schlesinger.

For Bloom, the experience of performing the show serves as a kind of therapy. “One of the things I like about sharing personal things with an audience is you almost give an experience over to the audience,” she says on “Stagecraft.” “It’s not just yours anymore. It’s very healing.”

As fans would expect from the creator and star of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” “Death, Let Me Do My Show” features a lineup of musical-comedy songs that tackle subjects both silly and serious. For Bloom, Schlesinger was her go-to songwriting partner; “Death, Let Me Do My Show” finds her collaborating with a range of co-writers, including her “Crazy Ex” collaborator Jack Dolgen and the composer Shaina Taub (“Suffs”).

“Every song in the show is written with a different collaborator because it’s kind of me experimenting,” Bloom says. “What does my songwriting life look like now that Adam’s gone?”

When Schlesigner died, he and Bloom were developing a musical adaptation of “The Nanny.” That project isn’t discussed in the new “Stagecraft” because “The Nanny” is a TV property and therefore falls under the shadow of the ongoing WGA and SAG/AFTRA strikes. But there are plenty of other things she can talk about, including demo derbies, dealing with hecklers and all of her favorite jokes and songs that she had to cut from the show.

To hear the entire conversation, listen at the link above or download and subscribe to “Stagecraft” on podcast platforms including Apple PodcastsSpotify and the Broadway Podcast NetworkNew episodes of “Stagecraft” are released every other week.

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