'Death, Let Me Do My Show' review — Rachel Bloom juggles music, comedy, and death
Read our review of Death, Let Me Do My Show, the latest solo comedy show from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend creator Rachel Bloom, off Broadway through September 30.
This review contains spoilers for Death, Let Me Do My Show.
In Death, Let Me Do My Show, writer and star Rachel Bloom is dressed as the elephant in the room. In her glittery silver pantsuit, Bloom dribbles a basketball, poses coyly under a parasol, and tries to rock a makeshift baby to sleep without killing it. She asserts her desire to perform a show written in 2019, one that relies on hacky jokes to establish a pre-pandemic world order, until an interloper forces her to confront reality.
“The world is back to normal,” she proclaims near the top of the show, then admits later, when discussing the Covid surge affecting audience members right now, that the world is not normal. It never will be again.
Perhaps this lack of normalcy explains why Bloom can’t find her footing onstage, a place where she has historically been both comfortable and confident. Death, Let Me Do My Show is part stand-up comedy, part musical theatre extravaganza, and part confessional, and its effect is as disjointed as these elements.
Fans of her television series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend may be surprised: The show that brought Bloom an Emmy Award and a cult following blended flashy music numbers about mental illness with irreverent humor that flew in the face of network sitcom rules. In Death, Bloom doesn’t achieve this same balance of tones, and is in fact accused by Death himself (embodied as a heckler in the form of her Crazy Ex costar David Hull) of avoiding difficult conversations.
This most difficult conversation is known to any Crazy Ex fan in the audience: the death of the songwriter Adam Schlesinger, Bloom’s writing partner. In March 2020, Bloom gave birth a daughter who was unable to breathe and was placed on a ventilator, while across the country, Schlesinger fell victim to the first wave of Covid and was also intubated. Soon after Bloom brought her daughter home from the NICU, Schlesinger died.
This one-two punch sprouted in Bloom a new fear of death. She feared her daughter would die in her sleep or that her dog would die before her child had memories of it — leading her to pepper a corner of the nursery with commissioned paintings of the pooch. She wasn’t afraid she’d be haunted by the ghosts of those she’d lost (including a colleague and her psychiatrist in quick succession after Schlesinger), but that she would never be.
“Is a Civil War soldier whose face has been destroyed really as scary as an unfeeling void?” she asks of the afterlife in “The Spookiest Scariest Ghost,” a Halloween parody song and the only number that marries witty and macabre in her signature style.
The rest of the show feels incohesive, particularly the banter between Bloom and Hull, which comes across as unfinished in more of a missed deadline manner than an improv comedy one. Seth Barrish of the Barrow Group directs, but leaves no personal touch.
The show instead leaves the impression that Bloom is rushing to process grief, joy, and the last decade of her career before the pop culture moment moves on. Perhaps with more room for reflection, her next show will strike a different chord.
Photo credit: Rachel Bloom in Death, Let Me Do My Show. (Photo by Emilio Madrid)
Originally published on