Femme on Fire: Melissa Rauch

By Michael J. Lockhart

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Unless you’ve been living on another planet for the past six years, you or someone you know is likely glued to their television sets each week as the greater cosmos is explained by the quirky nerds of CBS’s The Big Bang Theory.

When audiences aren’t scratching their heads trying to make sense of the asexual Sheldon Cooper’s way of life, we’re pretty sure the gorgeous girls of America’s number one television show are drawing their attention to the study of female anatomy.

We caught up with the bombshell Kaley Cuoco last fall, and our other favorite heavenly body and this week’s woman to watch is getting some screen time as the first (and probably only) woman to ever stand up to the terrifying Mrs. Wolowitz. We sat down with our newest Femme on Fire, the beautiful Melissa Rauch, to chat about playing Bernadette, impromptu dance routines and the physical demands of playing a hooker.

Playboy.com: So we just watched the cast and crew rock the “Call Me Maybe” mash-up (below). Where did that come from?

*Rauch: *That was the brainchild of Kaley. Her sister choreographed it and everybody was so excited to do it. It was one of the most fun days of my life. We did two hours of rehearsal the day that we shot it—it was so funny—you could look anywhere on set and everyone was secretly doing little dance moves to themselves. We want to do it every taping now. [laughs]

Playboy.com: The Big Bang Theory just hit another milestone with over 20 million viewers for last week’s episode; does this show know no bounds?

Rauch: I really feel like I stepped in a big lucky pot with this job. It’s such a surreal experience, and I was a fan of the show before I joined the cast, so I was so fortunate—it feels like I won the lottery.

Playboy.com: What has it been like to play Bernadette?

Rauch: I love playing Bernadette! What I love about her is the unexpected—the writers do such a great job with giving Bernadette and all the characters so many different layers; there’s always something new they’ve hidden in the script for me.

Playboy.com: Personality-wise, what do you share with Bernadette?

Rauch: Well…we’re both on the short side. [laughs] I cannot comprehend science. The fact that she’s a microbiologist is the closest I’ll ever come to making my parents proud in the realm of science academia. I know my science teachers in high school are definitely calling the bullshit alarm on me.

Playboy.com: Were you a geek prior to getting cast?

*Rauch: *I was definitely a geek in my own right. I’ve always felt comfortable around the nerd population. I wasn’t a geek in terms of the nerds we play on the show, but I was a theater geek in high school. That underdog mentality is something I definitely identify with.

Playboy.com: The fandom for The Big Bang Theory is enormous. Do you ever feel overwhelmed at the conventions?

Rauch: This is my second year [doing conventions]; I lost my Comic-Con virginity after my first year as a regular, so I know what to expect now. Just getting approached by people in full costume in the most random of places…I was washing my hands in the ladies’ room and this girl in full green makeup came up and asked for an autograph. I actually had seen a hand come out from under the stall. [laughs]

Playboy.com: Your relationship with Howard’s overzealous mother, Mrs. Wolowitz, has become a highlight of the show; what has that been like?

Rauch: I think what’s great about the relationship between Howard and his mother is that there is so much love there; I think Bernadette sees that and respects it.

Playboy.com: Tell us about your new film, You Are Here.

Rauch: I just did a day of shooting on that, and it was a wonderful experience. The script is phenomenal. It’s definitely a different character than Bernadette—she’s a hooker, and I don’t think Bernadette has walked the streets much in her life.

*Playboy.com: *And you played a hooker.

Rauch: I definitely have to say that some hookers are justifying to themselves why they’re doing it. I thought the clothes were really fun. She’s a high-class hooker; I don’t think I’d have the stamina to be a non-high-class hooker. I’m not saying that to be a snob; I give them a ton of credit. I think you need to be a warrior to be that. I was very warm all the time, there was no standing out on the street; I don’t think I have what it takes to work the streets… [laughs]

Playboy.com: At least you’re being honest, right?

Rauch: I am! The next time I see a hooker walking the streets I’m going to commend her. “Good for you! You have a lot more stamina than I do.” I’m a wuss.

Playboy.com: You’re also pretty great at voice impersonations.

Rauch: I am, somewhat.

Playboy.com: Could you do Mrs. Wolowitz for us?

Rauch: Sure! Let’s see…[As Mrs. Wolowitz, shouts] Bernadette’s talking to Playboy.com! No daughter-in-law of mine!

[Editor’s note: we apologize for not being able to share this clip; it was epic.]

*Playboy.com: *Lightning Round: What is your favorite…

City: New York—it’s still got my heart.

Drink: Mojito.

Food: Sushi.

Shot: Chilled vodka.

Embarrassing Moment: Oh brother…when I was doing standup years ago, I did an entire set with my skirt tucked up into my underwear. I had no idea. I did a solid 10 and was thinking “This audience is so weird!” As I’m walking offstage, a friend was like, “I was trying to signal you the entire time you were up there!” That was before iPhones, thankfully, because that could have been living somewhere on the internet.

Guilty Pleasure: The Housewives series on Bravo…but I don’t feel guilty about it. I should probably feel more guilty about it…but I love it!

Secret Talent: From my waiting table days, if a table is wobbly I’m fantastic at folding a bar napkin in such a way that it doesn’t wobble. It’s really not a classy move…I’ve dived under many tables in a skirt to do it. It makes me really excited to do it, but I really need to cool it at business dinners in the future. [laughs]

Pickup Line: Short guys tend to give me a pickup line with “I think we’d make a good couple.” I see the logic there, but it’s really just going in for an insult. It’s like, “we both have limited options, let’s be honest here.” But that’s not true of all short guys.

Playboy.com: What was your first Playboy?

Rauch: I didn’t read it, but I found in my uncle’s basement a couple boxes with vintage Playboys. The girl from Make Room for Daddy [Sherry Jackson]—I remember watching her on Nick at Night, this little girl who was now in her twenties doing a spread, something about making room for daddy [“Make Room For Sherry,” 1967]. I was partially fixated on it, partially confused…then every time I watched the show I was like, “She turned into a beautiful girl!” [laughs]

The Big Bang Theory airs Thursdays at 8/7c. Follow Melissa on Twitter @ReallyRauch


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