EAST VILLAGE — After many years on the Upper West Side, comic actress Rachel Dratch knew she wanted something different out of New York City.
"I knew I wanted to live downtown. I wanted to be where all the action is," the "Saturday Night Live" veteran said.
She moved to the East Village — which she found to offer more roomy and afforable accomodations than her first choice, the West Village. When Dratch became a parent, she found her new, playground-filled hood was well-suited to her parenting style.
"I think I’m in a good neighborhood to avoid the crazy urban baby stuff," she said. "I don’t know what it’s like in the more hoity-toity sections of town. I’ve managed to meet pretty mellow moms, which is nice."
After Dratch's a seven-year tenure on "Saturday Night Live," from 1999 to 2006 — where she created one of her most legendary characters, Debbie Downer — she has continued to act in television, film and local theater and released a memoir last year entitled "A Girl Walks Into a Bar," about her dating life in the city.
The actress's latest project requires her skills as an improvisational comic who thrives under pressure. For “The 24 Hour Plays on Broadway” playwrights, directors and notable actors from television, film and the stage will come together to write, direct, rehearse and perform six short plays in 24 hours. Proceeds from ticket sales will go to benefit the Urban Arts Partnership.
Dratch told DNAinfo New York about the project and her beloved neighborhood, the East Village.
Do you get stopped a lot in the East Village?
A lot of people just say "hi." They always say nice things. My friends tell me, "You can’t see. Everyone is looking at you." And I just don’t even see it. But it’s really nice. I’m just walking around doing my thing but people say nice things. I’m not like Angelina Jolie...I mean, in many respects, but that’s just one of them.
Where do you stop in for casual meals, like pizza or something?
Nicoletta. I like that place and Motorino — more upscale pizza if you’re living large. There’s also this little teeny coffee place called Madman Espresso. It’s owned by this super nice couple and it’s on 14th between First and Second Avenue, which is not exactly a culinary delight.
Where did you used to go after taping an episode of “Saturday Night Live”?
After the show there’s a big party and you just go wherever that is. I remember way back in the day there was this place called Siberia that was under the subway station around 47th. We used to go there. Sometimes we would go to Professor Thom’s too because one of the guys on the crew was a part owner or something.
Were the parties always private?
Those are thrown at restaurants — there’ll be like five restaurants that they’ll rotate. We used to go to Dylan Prime and McCormick and Schmick's. You’d just go “where’s the party?” after the show. You don’t have to do any work. You just get in a car and you’re there. I was living the life of luxury. People are surprised because they imagine this big deal, dancing and drugs, but you’re really at a steakhouse with your friends and everyone’s at a different table.
You’ve been doing “The 24 Hour Plays” for many years. What keeps you coming back?
It’s people from all different backgrounds. There might be a movie actor with a stage actor with a comedian. It’s a fun mix of people who wouldn’t be working together in their natural showbiz life, so that’s another fun thing about it. I just loved it and loved the people involved and it’s always a really fun night, hence I keep coming back.
The 24 Hour Plays on Broadway Benefit will take place on Nov. 18th. To learn more and purchase tickets, click here.