Crazy Ex-Girlfriend fans, rejoice: There may be some fun, cringe-y karaoke in your future. “I am working so hard to make karaoke tracks happen,” the show’s star and co-creator Rachel Bloom announced at Vulture Festival L.A. on Sunday. To tide you over, the cast of the CW show discussed the songs they auditioned with, the songs they’ve aired, condom props, and spaghetti penises.
It turns out that several cast members auditioned with songs they had learned for other gigs. Vincent “Vinnie” Rodriguez III (Josh Chan) “naturally accompanied [himself] on guitar, singing and rapping the song, ‘Thugz Mansion’ by Tupac Shakur, as one does,” he said, “because I had auditioned for the Broadway musical Holler If Ya Hear Me.” But he was also obeying the audition instructions to “showcase musical ability” to the letter. Bloom explained the instructions had stated “‘such as singing, playing guitar, or rapping,’ and you were like, ‘I guess I have to do all of them, at once.’” Pete Gardner (Darryl Whitefeather) auditioned with “I Love My Baby (My Baby Loves Me)” and Brahms’s Lullaby in German, which he also had in his pocket because of a previous job. Scott Michael Foster (Nathaniel Plimpton III) broke out “Fly Me to the Moon.”
David Hull auditioned for the pilot and didn’t even get a callback. But, according to Bloom, he made an impression on casting director Felicia Fasano, who noted, “He’s so talented, don’t know for Greg, but he kind of looks like a white Josh.” They decided if it went to series, they’d write him that role. Then Bloom and co-creator Aline Brosh McKenna wrote a part for him, without first confirming he was available. Thus became the accidental origin story of White Josh. And now for some more (and more and more) stories behind the show’s memorable songs.
“Let’s Generalize About Men”
“It was such weird timing about that song, just as the Harvey Weinstein shit broke. Cuz that song is about gross generalizations and how that’s dangerous. But with all the news coming out, it’s like, ‘Maybe we can generalize? Because it sounds like a lot of them are terrible, if not all?’” Bloom said.
The last line, “Your sons are going to be rapists,” came about because McKenna has two sons. The line was in the script, but at some point, someone gave the note that the word “rapists” made it hard to get into the next scene with Darryl and White Josh talking about their feelings, so they just made it the act break, Bloom said.
Adam Schlesinger (the show’s executive music producer) wrote this song while extremely crunched for time. “That was when we were pretty slammed and exhausted,” Brosh McKenna said. After meeting with GLAAD, she emailed him and said, “here are eight misconceptions about bisexual people based on our research,”And the song came back. It flew back in like a stork brought it. Jack (Dolgen) and I were in the writers room and we listened to it and it was like, ‘Oh God, that one’s done.’”
When Gardner got the Darryl role, he fretted constantly about the musical numbers. “When do I have to sing, and what episode? How can I start preparing? Useless. But so Aline was going, ‘Okay, you sing in the fifth episode,’ and that’s all I could see: fifth episode, fifth episode, fifth episode. And then she walked in and she’s like, ‘Oh, and in 11, your character comes out as bi,’” he said. He added that he loves that people come up to him at restaurants referencing the song. “It’s just such an amazing honor to be associated, to be a small part of that song. It means a lot to so many people.”
“Let’s Have Intercourse”
This number has a lot of fumbling related to props. Let’s start with Bloom’s take on the protection. “The condom that Nathaniel then takes out in that scene is so small. It’s literally like [for] a teenager. I don’t know if it’s a tester condom. You know, like tampons that are meant for when you’re like 11 and it’s just starting. It’s like a baby condom. I think the implication there is Nathaniel’s penis is very narrow. It’s like spaghetti. It’s super long, but it’s super thin,” she said.
Then there’s the dancing for this number, which choreographer Kat Burns said she envisioned as a romantic duet for maximum comedy. “There might be some raunchy lyrics, but like, reverse cowboy could also be very beautiful while wearing a chiffon flowy dress.” Yes, she meant reverse cowgirl, which Bloom pointedly corrected onstage. The guitar drop was Foster’s idea, and he says he still feels bad for making the prop guys scramble to get one.
This is the number that blew most of the show’s budget, since it was originally shot for Showtime before landing at the CW. Bloom provided a quick breakdown: “That’s 75 dancers, dancing on concrete, which costs extra money. Outside with a flying pretzel. In the Showtime days, we had a lot of money for that pilot. We had almost twice as much money to make that pilot as we did the rest of the show. We periodically blow our budget, and then we do ones were somebody dances around with a guitar and we just balance it out that way.”
Her advice about pilots and networks: Always get the extra shots, because you never know how much leeway you’re going to get with nudity. “As you know we were originally with Showtime. In this pilot, the stripper was topless. And I’m going to give myself the credit. I said, ‘Can we get some versions with her with the top on?’ Because it just might be straight-up distracting to suddenly have tits in the song. And I’m so glad we got it, because we would have had to have to go back to the strip club, and it would have cost a lot of money to do VFX. Word to the wise, if you’re getting a topless scene in a musical TV show, always get a version without it because you never know if you’ll end up on the CW.”
“There are a lot of tonal similarities to ‘West Covina.’ There’s that optimism, there’s that kind of sincere Broadway number. There’s throwing the envelope and the guy catching it, which is the same guy who catches the coat in the West Covina song, magician David Kwong,” Bloom said. “But it was in the middle of the season when our budget kind of gets fucked. It’s a very small hallway, but what it allowed us to do was much more intimate and emotional than me running down a hallway in a field.” She added, “It was much more about getting in those close-ups, and then it changed the arrangement of the music. Actually that’s how big the outpatient center would be, these outpatient centers aren’t these great expanses. They’re small. Sometimes it’s fun to work within a limit because it allows you to make certain choices you wouldn’t normally make.”