Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch's 1999 stage show is as great as it sounds

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Image Credit: Gregory Pace/FilmMagic

One one side of Chicago’s Second City stage, Rachel Dratch performs a one-woman show about the 19th-century woman’s rights activist Edwina Garth Burnahm. On the other, Tina Fey monologues about her vagina. This might sound like a fever dream you had after binging on Cheesy Blasters, but it actually happened.

A 1999 video of the the pair recently surfaced online, and if that description of the first sketch isn’t enough to get you hooked, then you have no soul. They performed Dratch and Fey at Second City as well as the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York City. The show was directed by Jeff Richmond, who later married Fey. He also composed the music for 30 Rock.

The show’s sketches—some improvised, some based upon Fey’s unsuccessful pitches for Saturday Night Live—tend to veer from traditional setups into odd conclusions. In one, a housewife first entertains the thoughts of a musing kid then finishes the sketch by telling him to “mow the fucking lawn.” In another, budget cuts call for a teacher to combine her “self-defense for women” and “introduction to flirting” classes. She tells her students both “no means no” and “no means maybe.”

The show was a critically acclaimed hit, and it premiered just before Fey and Dratch’s careers began to take off: In 1999, Dratch started as a performer on Saturday Night Live, while Fey was named the show’s head writer.

Dratch and Fey later collaborated on 30 Rock, in which Dratch was initially set to play the role of Jenna Maroney (then Jenna DeCarlo). Though a pilot was shot, Fey and NBC later recast Jane Krakowski in the role. Dratch appeared in a number of 30 Rock episodes in several roles, but largely fell off the show after its first season. But while Dratch never achieved Fey’s level of fame, even on blurry VHS it’s clear she can hold her own.


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