Standup comedian Hannah Einbinder recently made the transition to the world of scripted comedy when she landed a role on HBO’s Hacks, starring alongside veteran television actress Jean Smart. She may have only just made the transition from the stand-up stage to the small screen, but Einbinder can now call herself an Emmy nominee after receiving a Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series nomination for her work on the show.
Watching Einbinder on screen opposite Jean Smart, it’s clear the two are a match made in heaven from their comedic timing, their effortless reactions to each other, and the undeniable power of two power house comics of different generations. It’s like a meeting of the minds, and it’s almost hard to believe that this is Einbinder’s first major television role as she pulls it off with aplomb and gravitas.
Her cool girl vibes and ability to standout in the world of comedy where women are still fighting twice as hard for recognition are poised to make her your new favorite comedy queen. Einbinder’s television debut role debut in Hacks was indubitably one for the books.
AS IF: Start off by talking to me about your transition from doing stand up to a more scripted acting role on HBO’s Hacks?
Hannah Einbinder: At the time, the pandemic was going. I really wasn’t doing much stand up. I was sort of in this limbo where I was writing stand up, but I wasn’t getting to actually do anything with it. I always feel it’s such a credit to the writing on Hacks that the transition was seamless for me in terms of my comfort level. It’s a credit to the way my character Ava was already so vividly and thoroughly fleshed out, that a person like me that didn’t have a lot of scripted acting experience could handle the material. It really was such an ideal, lovely, and serendipitous experience to be part of Hacks.
What were you anticipating going from the world of stand up to a television set and the world of television production?
I didn’t know what to expect, and I had heard horror stories from fellow standup comedians who had bad experiences on other sets. The set on Hacks was truly unlike any other. Everyone from the crew to hair and make-up said this is such a rarity to get an entire group that was so nice, loving, and collaborative. The people on top, including the creators Paul W. Downs, Lucia Aniella, and Jen Slatsky, along with Jean Smart, are just such lovely and nice people they weren’t tolerating anything but kindness on set.
You came from an entertainment family. One of your parents is a television writer. So you grew up in the entertainment world, didn’t you?
Not really actually. My mom was also an actress, but by the time I was born she transitioned into doing voiceover work for animation, which was a very different world from live-action television. Being on set in this way with Hacks was new to me.
How do you think the show is helping to break ground for women in comedy?
The show only attempts to tell an honest story told by people who experience what the main characters Ava and Debra are going through. It normalizes complex female characters in general, not just in comedy. To see people we know in real life represented on screen is very beneficial.