“Saturday Night Live”: How the events of September 11 inspired Debbie Downer to one of the funniest sketches of the show


Debbie Downer, played by Rachel Dratch, is one of the funniest characters to appear on the Saturday Night Live show. Debbie Downer’s parody from the May 1, 2004 episode of the NBC series hosted by Lindsay Lohan was remembered by most fans. The Disney—inspired sketch is one of the funniest in the series, but ironically it was inspired by one of the most tragic days in the history of the United States. Find out how the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 prompted the idea of the character of Dratch Debbie Downer.

“Debbie Downer’s sketch with Lindsay Lohan for SNL is a fan favorite.

Debbie Downer from Dratch is a recurring character on SNL, who became known for bringing up depressive topics in the most inappropriate conditions. Debbie Downer’s very first sketch was shown on Saturday Night Live in May 2004.

In this scene, Debbie and her family are traveling around Disney World. Her relatives, played by Jimmy Fallon, Amy Poehler, Fred Armisen, Horatio Sanz and the host of this episode Lohan, talk about how excited they are about their vacation together.

Fallon’s character is especially excited about the restaurant’s special breakfasts. “I love steak and eggs!” he exclaims. Debbie Downer follows: “Since mad cow disease was discovered in the USA, I’m not taking any risks. It can live in your body for years before it destroys your brain.”

The signature “womp, womp” sound sounds as the camera zooms in on Debbie Downer’s iconic Drag frown. She continues to bring up other irrelevant facts, such as train explosions and infertility, until the audience, actors and Dratch fall into a fit of uncontrollable infectious laughter.

Rachel Dratch came up with Debbie Downer on vacation in Costa Rica

In an interview with Glamour magazine in 2015, Dratch explained how she came up with the idea of creating her main character in the show “Saturday Night Live”. “I was on vacation in Costa Rica,” Dratch began.

“When I told someone that I was from New York, I was asked: “Were you there during September 11th?” The conversation froze. When I came back, the name [Debbie Downer] popped into my head.”

Rachel Dratch, Glamour

Episodes of “Saturday Night Live” featuring Debbie Downer

Dratch’s first appearance as Debbie Downer lives in the hearts of fans as a favorite, but the character appeared several more times in the late-night comedy show. Find Debbie Downer in the next SNL Releases:

October 2, 2004 — Ben Affleck. November 20, 2004 — Luke Wilson. December 19, 2005 — Hilary Swank October 1, 2005 — Steve Carell December 17, 2005 — Jack Black April 15, 2006 — Lindsay Lohan May 8, 2010 — Better White (off-air) March 7, 2020 — Daniel Craig

Jimmy Fallon recalls how the studio was shaking “Saturday Night Live” after the first performance of Rachel Dratch Debbie Downer

When Dratch says his last line in the sketch, “It’s official; I can’t have children,” the cast loses their cool. Fallon recalls performing in this scene in a 2018 interview.

“I didn’t laugh until the very end,” Fallon explains in an interview with People. “I kept it, it seems, until the very end.”

He claims that Sans “lost his temper all the time.” Fallon added: “At one point he was trying so hard not to laugh; tears were streaming from his eyes.”

Fallon also remembers how the whole studio vibrated when Dratch uttered her last phrase. “The studio stands on these springs… it’s a floating studio because the subway rumbles and you don’t want the stage to shake during the show,” Fallon explains. “If this is really a killer sketch, the place is shaking.”

Debbie Downer went down in the history of the show “Saturday Night Live” as a “killer sketch”.