The Rat Fan Club
As of 8/15/15 I’m still working on uploading video clips to YouTube.
Debbie “The Rat
Lady” and her performing rats One and Two, appeared on a
Debbie “The Rat
Lady” and her performing rat Beans appeared on a
Debbie “The Rat
Lady” was invited to appear on a public access TV show called The Painting
Gourmet Show by host Darlene Carman.
Also appearing on the show were the Scamperats, rats who paint with
fingerpaints. The show was taped on
Debbie “The Rat
Lady” appeared on a new show on the VH1 channel called Totally Obsessed on
Debbie appeared on Rats, Bats & Bugs on the History
Debbie “The Rat
Lady” and RFC members Linda Bradley and Kim Wright appeared on the pilot
of Steve Harvey’s Big Time on
the WB Channel on
Channel 7 KRCA News in
Wake Up News the morning of the day I my episode of The John Walsh Show aired. https://youtu.be/1Cs0ClkBSiA
Debbie “The Rat
Lady” appeared on The John Walsh
Debbie writes, “The producer had me bring Mickey and Soda out on stage with them already wearing costumes. I introduced the rats to the audience and explained what costumes they were wearing. John asked me if people can get diseases from pet rats and I explained no, they were very different from wild rats. They later cut that part out.
“I gave the boys kisses and asked if John would like to kiss them too, which he didn’t. Then Mickey did his jumping trick perfectly. They had set a little tube camera on the edge of the stool so it showed Mickey jumping straight into the camera. I tried to get Soda to do his basket trick, but he was stage struck and stared into space like a zombie. The audience was very supportive though and when I suggested Soda might do his trick with encouragement from the audience they started chanting, ‘So-da, So-da, So-da.’ It didn’t help though and they later cut that out. John started to wrap up my appearance, but I said, ‘I have to take the hairless rat out first.’ I took Grungy out of his closed carrier and showed him to the audience who responded enthusiastically. I asked John if he would like to touch Grungy, which he did. A successful end to a short appearance.”
The Most Extreme: Cheats on Animal Planet on
Another show in the series, The Most Extreme: Survivors, features some footage of domestic rats acting as wild rats that Debbie helped wrangle. She helped film the scenes of a rat coming out of a toilet, running along a wall, and running along a headboard. The man in the bed is Debbie’s husband Larry!
Rats with Nigel Marven on The Discovery Channel on
CBS Evening Magazine,
A Rat Fan Club party in
The National Geographic
Channel was running a series on phobias and a film crew came to Debbie’s house
to film a meeting of The Rat Fan Club for the episode called Phobia: Musaphobia. This episode originally aired
Here is a photo snapped by the crew during the filming as the rats take over the camera!
Wake Up News Just before the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not episode aired. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4nBBK9FBww
Ripley’s Believe It Or Not on
Here are some photos taken by the crew during the filming as Debbie posed with her rats in the bathtub.
To Tell the Truth
I brought 5 rats to the show, and they all behaved very well. Ilia, one of my hairless girls, was the hit of the show and made a very favorable impression on host John O'Hurley. He thought she was adorable, and she liked him as well!
My episode aired nationally on
At the beginning of the show when I said, “My name is Debbie Ducommun, and I am The Rat Lady,” the audience all said, “Ewww!” But at the end of the show, when John O’Hurley picked up Ilia and said, “This is about as cute as a little animal gets,” the audience all said, “Awww!” Then, when John said, “I have to say, this is really adorable,” the audience clapped. I thought it was very good publicity for rats.
The Howie Mandel Show
In October 1998, I appeared on The Howie Mandel Show with 6 of my rats. Howie made a lot of funny jokes, and was very squeamish about the inevitable “mistakes” the rats made on his desk. The highlight of the appearance was two tricks performed by Lily and her daughter Hexa, two patchwork hairless rats. Lily’s trick was crossing a tight rope, a trick I had taught her only 5 days earlier! She lost her balance in the middle (for the first time—it must have been performance stress!) but recovered to complete the trick. Amazingly, as I was carrying Lily to her platform, her daughter Hexa went to the basket on a string I had hung over the edge of the desk and performed her trick of pulling up the basket to get a treat all on her own! If you have the show on tape, be sure you catch it!
Because of all the jokes Howie told, I didn’t get to say much during this appearance, but it did give people another chance to see how cute rats are, and how fun they can be. Howie did hold my book up three times (upside-down at the end!)
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
Jay Leno, Debbie "The Rat Lady" Ducommun, and her rats following her appearance on The Tonight Show.
The call came on
They were going to pay for me to fly to
Steve and I discussed my wardrobe and how I would get the rats on stage. He said they wanted me to walk out with as many rats on my body as possible. Steve eventually found a fishing vest with a lot of pockets in their wardrobe department (where there were also left-overs from Laugh-In!) that we thought might work.
I was booked on the show for August 3. We drove down on the 2nd. The bellhop at the Burbank Hilton who helped us up to the room asked what was in the cages. When I said “rats” he didn't bat an eyelash. I said we were going to be on The Tonight Show and he asked, "What do they do?" I said, “Nothing, they're just cuddly!”
The next day, a free-lance publicist hired by Bowtie picked us up at and drove us to the NBC Studios. Animals are only allowed on the lot with a special release form, and unfortunately, ours was not at the gate, so we had to sit in the car for half an hour in the 100+ heat. Fortunately, the air conditioner was able to keep the rats fairly cool in the back seat, but Wendy and I were in the front in the sun, so tempers were rising with the heat.
Once in the studio, we proceeded right to the stage for rehearsal with Steve. The rats weren’t too excited about being stuffed into the pockets of the vest, but they did pretty good. All except Tigger, who was flighty and didn’t like to be handled much. I had to leave him behind in the cage for a while until he calmed down. Once on stage, I worked on getting the rats used to being on the desk. They didn’t like being out in the open away from me, but by the end of the rehearsal, which I suppose lasted a half hour or so, most of the rats—including Tigger—were staying on the desk, eating sunflower seeds. Early in the show, when they were promoting my appearance, they showed a tape of Harry, Lily, and Dottie eating the seeds.
As we took the cages upstairs to my dressing room, we ran into Jay in the hallway. He said, “Hi, I'm Jay,” and shook our hands, just like a regular guy! Then we went to the commissary to get some lunch. It was too late in the day to see any stars eating there. We ate in the dressing room where we watched Jay rehearse his monologue and skit on a monitor. After lunch, the time flew by. Jay came up to meet us and he was very nice. He is also smaller and better looking in person! He told me to just relax and go with the jokes and not be too serious. I signed Jay’s guestbook.
As the time got closer to the show I got more and more nervous. They put the microphone on me and did my make-up. The star on that day was Whoopie Goldberg, and after she left the stage, Steve came up and said, “Quick, come with me.” He and I went downstairs where Whoopie was standing in the door of her dressing room, talking with the other cast members. Then Steve introduced me and I got to shake her hand. Whoopie was very nice. She said she was very interested in learning more about rats, and was sorry she didn’t have time to stay, but would watch the show that night. I had the chance to tell her a little bit about them. I wish I had been quick enough to grab a rat to take down to show her.
After Jon Cryer’s appearance was over, and they went to commercial, Steve came in to tell us the show was running late and I would have only 4 minutes instead of 6. It was time to load my pockets with rats. They went into the pockets much more easily this time and I went downstairs with Bubba and Lily on my shoulders to wait back stage for my cue. As soon as I stepped out on stage, I was no longer nervous, but I was still very keyed up, and wasn’t thinking completely normally.
They had originally wanted me to pull the rats out one at a time, tell about them, and put them on the desk. It didn’t happen quite that way, mostly because due to the loud music, lights, and applause, the rats kept hiding behind me, and Jay was asking me questions. I wish I had said and did some things differently, but I guess it went pretty well, and I thought the segment was very funny. It went by very quickly! During the commercial, I first cleaned up the poop that had fallen on the floor, and then I panicked a little, because I thought for a moment I was supposed to leave the stage. Then I remembered I needed to stay there while Jay did the wrap up. The band played music so loud I could only talk to Jay or Jon by shouting! Jay was going to hold my book up at the end, but ran out of time. Then it was over.
They had Larry and the publicist come on stage to take some of the rats from me. Jon Cryer left. Somebody told me to go stand over there (stage left) because Jay needed to do some promos. I thought I was supposed to stand next to Jay, but he gently pushed me out of the way, and I went to the far end of the stage with the technicians. Jay did 3 or 4 promos, like, “Hey San Francisco, don’t miss my show tonight with guests Whoopie Goldburg, Jon Cryer, and Debbie The Rat Lady, squeak, squeak, squeak!” It was so funny hearing Jay Leno squeaking like a rat!
When Jay was finished with the promos, they had me stand next to him for a photo. Once back in the dressing room, all I could say was, “That was so much fun!” I signed one of my books to Steve, and said goodbye.
We carried the rats outside and there was a family waiting outside the studio, probably to see Jay, but the girls said, “There’s The Rat Lady!” and that made me feel very good. I asked if they wanted to see the rats and they did, so we set the cages down on a cart. I asked who they wanted to see, and was pleased when they said “Harry!” Harry was very cooperative and sat in their arms. Then they asked to see Dottie. I gave them copies of the newsletter and Rat-alog. It was a lot of fun. However, they didn’t ask for my autograph!
Appearing on The Tonight Show was a whole lot of fun. It was definitely one of the highlights of my life!
Rat Fan Club