2/1/08

Rebecca Drysdale: A Celesbian Interview

A few weeks ago it was my very great pleasure to head over to the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, here in the Big Apple, and attend the comedy show of none other then the star and creator of Lesbiatopia’s favorite-featured web-series, The Time Traveling Lesbian, Ms. Rebecca Drysdale.

Beck’s improv show, called "Happy Hour", is a performance by Beck and a group of very witty and talented actors doing some of the funniest shit I've ever seen. They have a few drinks, tell random stories and then make up skits about them. It was a really great show and I laughed my ass off. I can highly recommend that if you live in the area or if you are visiting New York City, pop into the UCB and check out one of these performances.

After the show, I drifted around the theater trying to find her. She's very tiny and hard to spot but I soon found her chatting it up with some of the other performers. I have to say this was my first interview and I was a little nervous, its not everyday that I get the chance to chat with someone whom I consider a comedic genius. But my nerves eased up as soon as I met her, because she was very real and very talkative. We then made out way over to a local pub where I got to talk to this very talented lady over some drinks and an omelete about her Time Traveling Lesbian project, her comedy and some current and future projects she is working on.

Rebecca Drysdale was Born in Akron Ohio, has lived France, Canada, Chicago and now finally New York City and she has been doing comedy since she was sixteen years old. She has preformed at Amsterdam's BOOM Chicago Theater, with The Second City National Touring Company, and at the Second City ETC in Chicago. She has also appeared at IO East and West, UCB East and West, The Magnet Theater, and The PIT.

Ms Drysdale is also the first ever recipient of the Break-Out Performer Award presented at the HBO Comedy Festival in Aspen, and she was named one of the "100 women we love" by GONYC magazine in 2006. Time Magazine called her one of the "Comedy Innovators" of 2006, and Variety said she is one of "Ten To Watch In Comedy". She also writes for one of my favorite comedy shows, LOGO's Big Gay Sketch Show. and it was Drysdale who wrote the "Lesbian Speed Dating" sketch we featured here on Lesbiatopia last week. ( FYI: she if you take a second gander, the girl in black you see in the skit is none other than Ms. Drysdale.)

Beck is a self-proclaimed drama master, sci-fi nerd and dork. She also says of herself, “Basically I am an eight-year-old boy who fucks girls.”

She buys most of her furniture in the children’s department at Ikea, is obsessed with her pets and watches kids movies.

Rebecca Drysdale's My Space page says this about her:

Just your typical 28 year old Jewish lesbo in the city, except that I'm not in a burlesque show and I will never give you a flyer for anything.

I love this town and my apartment and my dog and cat and two rabbits. ( well she used to have two but one died. She told me, "it got involved in gang violence... it was only a matter of time.")

I sleep late, drink iced tea, smoke camel lights, love star wars, legos, and a good PS2 game.

I like to spoil myself and make impossible things possible.

I like to splurge and indulge and play and I am a terrible speller.

I know the greatest people in the world and consider myself lucky to know them and get to watch them do what they do so well.

I like to think that everyone has super powers and are just being really responsible about using them.
I like toys and farts and forts and time travel and pretending.

I'm not a big reader and I don't care.

I love Pixar movies and sci-fi and good pop music.

I have recently become very good at saying "I don't know", and find its a good way to learn things.

I find that having heroes is the most important thing, and you should tell them they are your heroes if you are lucky enough to get the chance.

I've been asked many times how I think being a gay woman effects my life in comedy.

I think being gay is like being in an a cappella group. Amazing and awesome, but also retarded and faggy.
A LITTLE SOMETHING I LOVE.

We started our interview with Rebecca telling me how her web-series Time Traveling Lesbian came in to existence. She says, "I was talking to my writing partner Jordan about ideas I was pitching to HBO in the development deal that I was in with them. In talking he said, “Well, why does it have to be anymore complicated than your Time traveling Lesbian.

She explained to me that in her one woman show,One Woman In Several Pieces, she did a lot of things that were personal in nature, but there was this one scene where she dressed up as a time traveler in a gladiator costume. She says, “It was kind of goofy but fun.” Drysdale liked the idea of using this concept to sell to HBO.

So she brought up the idea to her manager and agent.She continues, "they said, Nobody is ever going to buy that, it’s too niche…it’s not going to work.”
Not willing to give up so easily she told them, “Alright, I’ll make you a deal. I’ll work on the project that I’m working on with HBO but in every meeting I have with them I get to mention Time traveling lesbian.”

Her can do attitude paid off. She says, "We had this meeting with HBO in which we were talking about this pilot that I had originally written. We were talking and talking and at one point I said, “ It’s no Time Traveling Lesbian but it will do. There was this woman in the room, her name was Amy, and she was like, “What?” And I was like yeah…Time Traveling Lesbian… and gave a very nutshell version of the idea. And then they decided through their broadband department to buy time traveling lesbian.”

Beck then explains how everything almost fell apart and she had to take matters once again into her own hands. “So, I got a very good deal with them… but while it was happening the whole broadband thing fell apart and they weren’t doing anything with it. So, ultimately we appealed to them and were like, look your not doing anything with it can we just get it out there. And that was only a month and a half ago. It’s just been very recently that HBO has released it to us.”

Drysdale then turned her attention to the creative process behind TTL.

“I think for me it was less about making it funny then it was about making it watch-able. This idea is something that I really love and It’s very goofy…but, Originally I wanted it to be a show, but I got a web deal. So I had to turn this larger idea into three minute little installments. So, I tried to take the larger idea and make each episode be about one aspect of the show. Then, over the course of the eight episodes, you would think, this is what the show would be.”

She goes on to say, “When I watch it I’m like, “Oh My God, this isn’t funny.”… but I was trying to make it so you had to watch the next episode… in the end you have to stay on top of it. That was my goal. And that, I feel like I succeeded in. Even though it may not be the funniest thing you’ve ever seen.”

Then she went onto explain how her favorite television show helped formulate her idea.
“And, of course I owe all of that to Battle Star Galactica, which is the best show on television. In terms of telling a story that you have to watch the next episode to find out what happens. And of course, every episode of Battle Star begins with, “Previously on Battle Star Galactica.”

She continues, “So in the process of making TTL, I was like, I don’t have the luxury of making full episodes, but I can pretend that those episodes existed by putting all that information in recap form. I can tell a whole hour of story in three minutes. That was very much borrowed from Battle Star, which I thank them for. And I do have people say to me, Is it really previously on?” or “Is it really a show?”.. and that was they type of interest that I was hoping to start. I was excited about that…and now it like if I have another go around I can focus on it being funny.”

While we were on the topic of Battle Star, Rebecca explained how her love of science fiction has been a muse for her comedy.

“My writing partner Jordan and I left school together and spent all of our time watching science fiction and writing comedy. Watching the type of sci-fi that we watched, in this way or that, thematically found its way into our comedy. I mean Sci-fi, when it’s good, is satire. You talk about something without talking about it. You use certain themes but set them in a different place and time and I learned a lot about comedy through sci-fi… especially Battle Star Galactica. It is seriously the best show on television, it’s a drama about what is going on in the world now… but being allegorized… like a metaphor for what going on now… I call it “The West Wing in space”. Seriously, It’s so well done and it’s incredible television… I get so many people into that show… it’s pretty brilliant... and beats the shit out of LOST."

"I know I talk about Battle star like it’s the bible… but seriously, you’ll find a new way if you watch it. It very much inspired Time traveling lesbian, along side my love for time travel and my love for women.”

Beck then went on to say that the making of the TTL was really fun. “I had a lot of great people working with me. The girl who played the disco girl was my girlfriend at the time. The girl who plays my girlfriend is my best friend Drea”. Beck also had some performers from LOGO’s Big Gay Sketch Show helped her out and was joined by Nicole Paone who played a Roman queen in one episode and Kate Mckinnon who played the hippie in another. “It was really great having them with me.”

But Beck did say that the shooting schedule was fairly grueling; “ It was a five day shoot. We shot Rome and the whole hippie thing on the same day in the same vicinity. We started at like 5 o’clock in the morning. It was like a bazillion degree below zero. So during the shooting of the Rome segment I was freezing my ass off… everyone was freezing. Every time we changed shots people ran to us with blankets… it was so cold. Whenever I watch that episode I hate seeing how cold I was…I look so terrible… and it was so early”

“Then with episode 8, our last day of shooting started at like 4 o’clock in the morning… so that part where I take the yellow pages thing and pluck it out of the sky… well we had this whole plan to do a green screen thing… but we were fuckin’ exhausted, so I said, “let me just pluck it out of the sky… we don’t have time, we just don’t.” But whole experience making TTL was really great, and really fun.”

As our time together started wind to a close I asked Beck about the future, both hers and that of Time Traveling Lesbian and she told me, “I would love to do another eight episodes, because I would love to find out what happens and we still have a bazillion hours of footage from Time Traveling Lesbian we didn’t use that I would like to do something with. The only issue I have with that is sitting there and going through every fucked up take to find the funny stuff.”

“But with the original TTL we were just trying to pack in cliffhangers at the end of it and now everyone says, “What happens?” and I have to tell them, I don’t know… I just don’t know. But my theory or maybe my issue (with the fist installments) is, if the girlfriend was part of THE LEAK from the get go and Carl is part of THE LEAK from the get go, is THE LEAK even bad? I wanted to leave the TTL viewers with a sense of, “Wait, who are the bad guys? You know, intense drama and that’s what I liked about TTL… you got hooked and you got into watching it.

Beck continued on to say; “The reaction I’ve gotten from you guys and from the folks at AfterEllen is, “We want more episodes.” And that’s what I wanted too. So now I can go back to HBO and say, “Look, people want this to be a show.”

“But there are so many things that I wanna do that are like TTL... or on a spaceship… like an L Word drama in a toy box and make it like my one woman show which was, very political and edgy but still had a cowboy and Indian aspect to it.”

“Then I’m also working on a rap video that is about the L Word. I was working on trying to get a cameo on the L Word, but that never panned out…so I was like ( laughs) fuck it then… I’ll take you down. The song is called 'I’m gunna fuck my way through the L Word cast'… and its about me fucking my way through the l Word cast… yeah I’m trying to get funding for that… I love the L Word… I watch it… everyone does, but yeah trying to work on that.

“I’m also working on another web-series about the last two people who are left at the end of the world… a man and a woman in a post apocalyptic situation and their job is to repopulate the world… but the woman is a lesbian.”

“ And there is one other project that I’m working on… but it’s embryonic at best, it’s about video games… not about video games themselves, but using a lot of video game language and graphics… the show is called Nintendo Mii. I love video games… I don’t play a lot… but the culture is fascinating and the Wii is amazing. I also think its interesting how something that has always been considered reserved for the nerdy 14 year-old boy demographic is no longer confined to that."

But Beck confided to me with the writer’s strike at a stand still, the comedian says she is mostly just trying to do things that make her happy. “It’s hard for me because I support the strike…but I’m also broke.” She jokes, “As you can see I have a very high standard of living to maintain.”

Currently, Rebecca Drysdale says she spends a lot of her time at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York City performing shows on Wednesday and Saturday nights, were she is surround by alumni from Chicago’s second City, which she says has made her transition to NYC a little easier… (She’s only been here for two and a half years but she feels as though now she considers herself a real New Yorker) and she is also lending her time to teach improve to kids.

I would like to thank Beck for taking time out to chat with me. It was my sincere pleasure and a very enjoyable evening. All of us here at Lesbiatopia wish her the best of success (not that she needs it) and we hope to see a lot more from Beck in the future.

So now, without further ado, I present our final installment of Time Traveling Lesbian.


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3 comments:

Lesberita said...

This is probably one of the best and most comprehensive interviews I've ever read. Really really fabulous and it certainly makes me even more of a fan of Beck than I was before. I am saddened that this is the last episode of TTL in the series, but hopefully there will be another season to look forward to (fingers crossed).

Beebo - you are an amazing writer and we are so lucky to have you write for Lesbiatopia! Thanks again for all your hard work and incredible talent!!!

thewishfulwriter said...

I second everything ms. lesberita wrote. I thoroughly enjoyed this post and think i have me a new girl crush on Beck.

jesus. she may even have me watching Battle Star.

that's huge.

very well written, beebo!

geminichild25 said...

I never heard of Rebecca Drysdale but she seems like an interesting person.....she definitly has a lot going on. I am however, a big fan of Beebo....reading her work makes me really feel like I am there myself. I can't say the article makes me want to watch Battle Star Galactica (I'm a Sci-Fi Ghost Hunters fan) but it's always nice to read about people who have the guts to follow their dream with nothing but confidence guiding them. Thanks for taking me there for a few paragraphs. I'm looking foward to reading more of your interviews.

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