A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from October 12, 2019
Debbie Downer

"Debbie Downer” describes a person—usually female, but not always—who always brings bad news and depressing feelings to others. The “Debbie Downer” character was introduced on the New York City-based sketch comedy television show Saturday Night Live on May 1, 2004, and was played by Rachel Dratch. A trombone’s “wah-wah” sound was heard after Debbie Downer’s depressing announcements.

The term “Debbie Downer” was not used before Saturday Night Live, but soon gained a general usage beyond the show.


Wiktionary: Debbie Downer
Debbie Downer is a name of a fictional Saturday Night Live character who debuted in 2004, and who was loosely based on notable Quebec personality, “Chrissy Downer” and portrayed by Rachel Dratch.

The character’s name, Debbie Downer, is a slang phrase which refers to someone who frequently adds bad news and negative feelings to a gathering, thus bringing down the mood of everyone around them. Dratch’s character would usually appear at social gatherings and interrupt the conversation to voice negative opinions and pronouncements. She is especially concerned about the rate of feline AIDS, a subject that she would bring up on more than one occasion, saying it was the number one killer of domestic cats.

First appearance in 2003–04 season
The first appearance of Debbie Downer was on May 1, 2004, with guest host Lindsay Lohan. Debbie and five family members—played by Lohan, Jimmy Fallon, Dratch, Amy Poehler, Fred Armisen, and Horatio Sanz—are eating breakfast at a restaurant in Walt Disney World. While the family makes small talk, Debbie makes negative comments on current events followed by a knowing look at the camera and a cartoonish “wah-wah” sound made by a muted trombone.
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SNL episodes featuring Debbie Downer
Date Host
2004-05-01 Lindsay Lohan
2004-10-02 Ben Affleck
2004-11-20 Luke Wilson
2005-02-19 Hilary Swank
2005-10-01 Steve Carell (as Bob Bummer)
2005-12-17 Jack Black (Debbie Downer Christmas)
2006-04-15 Lindsay Lohan
2010-05-08 Betty White (unaired)

YouTube
#SNL
Debbie Downer: Disney World - SNL

Sep 25, 2013
Saturday Night Live
An Ohio family’s visit to Disney World is ruined when Debbie Downer (Rachel Dratch) only discusses depressing topics. With Lindsay Lohan, Jimmy Fallon, Fred Armisen, Amy Poehler and Horatio Sanz. Aired 05/01/04

YouTube
#SNL
Debbie Downer at a Birthday Party - SNL

Sep 25, 2013
Saturday Night Live
Debbie Downer (Rachel Dratch) spreads some birthday cheer. [Season 30, 2004]

YouTube
#SNL #ThankfulforSNL
Debbie Downer: Thanksgiving Dinner - SNL

Sep 25, 2013
Saturday Night Live
Debbie Downer’s (Rachel Dratch) comments on feline AIDS, small pox, eczema and food poisoning during Thanksgiving dinner makes everyone leave the table, even the turkey. With Luke Wilson, Amy Poehler, Fred Armisen and Horatio Sanz. [Season 30, 2004]

YouTube
#SNL
Debbie Downer: The Academy Awards - SNL
Sep 25, 2013
Saturday Night Live
Debbie Downer (Rachel Dratch) makes the Academy Awards a specially depressing treat for Hilary Swank and Chad Lowe (Will Forte) with comments on her scoliosis, the recent tsunami and ringworm. [Season 30, 2005]

YouTube
#SNL
Debbie Downer: Wedding Reception - SNL

Nov 13, 2018
Saturday Night Live
Debbie Downer (Rachel Dratch) attends a wedding reception where she meets Bob Bummer (Steve Carell).  [Season 31, 2005]

YouTube
#SNL
Debbie Downer: Christmas Eve w/ Santa Claus - SNL

Sep 25, 2013
Saturday Night Live
Debbie Downer (Rachel Dratch) meets Santa Claus (Jack Black) on Christmas Eve, 1978, after he comes sliding down the chimney, then sits on Saint Nicholas’ lap and manages to depress even the jolliest man who ever lived. [Season 31, 2005]

Saturday Night Live
Debbie Downer- Dress Rehearsal
CLIP 05/08/10

Newspapers.com
4 May 2004, Daily News (New York, NY), “Cracking up ‘Live’ on air” by David Bianculli, pg. 90, col. 2:
That’s because during one skit, ironically titled “Debbie Downer,” the entire cast fell victim to an infectious giggle fit.

Urban Dictionary
Debbie Downer
Etymology: From the Saturday Night Live character Debbie Downer, played by Rachel Dratch
Function: Noun
1. a: a person who says something terribly depressing (a downer), typically only tangentially related to the present circumstance or topic of conversation, and thereby destroys the positive atmosphere. b: a statement that is charactaristic of Debbie Downer
Usage note: In the skit, following each downer Debbie voices, a trombone plays a “wah waaah” (sad trombone) sound effect and the camera zooms in on Debbie Downer’s face, which is twisted in comic despair.
(...)
by Alana Post September 30, 2005

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWorkers/People • Saturday, October 12, 2019 • Permalink