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‘Hacks’ Star Hannah Einbinder Drops Trailer for Max Stand-Up Special

‘Hacks’ Star Hannah Einbinder Drops Trailer for Max Stand-Up Special

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Hannah Einbinder doesn’t perform the stand-up comedy in Hacks — that falls to Jean Smart, who stars with Einbinder as veteran comic Deborah Vance — but that was her primary job before she landed the role on the Emmy-winning Max series as Ava, a struggling writer who reluctantly takes a job with Deborah and, over the course of the show’s three seasons, becomes both a confidant to the veteran comic and the object of Deborah’s most withering scorn.

Einbinder will take center stage herself in her first stand-up special, Everything Must Go, which premieres June 13 on Max. The hour-long set, filmed in April at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles, covers everything from climate change to Einbinder’s days as a competitive cheerleader as a teenager, shot in a cinematic style by director Sandy Honig.

The show is called Everything Must Go, Einbinder says, because “I’m essentially burning all of this material that I have spent many years whittling. I also call it Everything Must Go because throughout the set, I speak to the impermanence of life. I talk about climate change, and I begin with my birth and end with a funeral.”

Watch a trailer for the special below.

Einbinder spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about the special on Thursday, just after Max announced that Hacks was renewed for a fourth season.

Congratulations on Hacks getting another season.

Thank you so much.

Do you know anything about it yet? Have they started writing?

They have started writing, and I do know things. I’m excited. I love it — and you can quote me. I’m getting real political here [laughs].

Watching the special, I thought it was staged in a really interesting way. How does it differ from when you perform this material just to a live audience? How much did you and the director discuss beforehand?

We designed a shot list ahead of time, and on our tech scout, we placed various cameras and decided which lenses to use for which shots. I knew that a camera was going to be to my right, and that was the one that I wanted to play several direct looks to camera. Other than that, I just sort of knew where my close-up camera was and where some of the wider angles were. We also had some cameras following me, as I’m pretty physical on stage. It definitely changed my performance filming the set. Usually, I would really play down to the crowd, but I had to sort of play up to camera. But it was a very exciting task to translate the set from live to film.

Are those asides to the camera something you added to the show, or did you adapt something you’d already been doing?

The idea to look directly in the camera came from the fact that in translating the show from live to film, I wanted to figure out a way to do what I do live to the audience at home, which is make pointed, direct eye contact with people in the crowd. I thought that would be the most engaging way to mimic what I do live on film.

You turn the opening “let me tell you about myself” segment into what feels like a piece of film noir narration. How did you develop that?

That bit is called “Flim Noir” in my setlist, so you’re right on there. When I wrote that bit, I was in a huge obsession with just anything that was on Turner Classic Movies. I watched a lot of noirs and a lot of old movies. The reason I opened with it, and the reason I have it in the special, is because I noticed that a lot of comedians start their sets by saying “Let me tell you a little bit about me,” and I was searching for an unconventional way to do that. I also wrote it at a time where I still wanted to create a certain level of distance between the audience and myself, so having the artifice around being truthful about my origin story was something that was alluring to me.

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You have a piece where you connect toxic masculinity to landscape architecture from the 1940s. Where did that idea come from?

There was an article in Scientific American that I read called “Botanical Sexism Cultivates Homegrown Allergies,” and it explores the topic of botanical sexism, which is a hot, hot issue in the urban forestry community, I think. I read that article because I have really horrific allergies, and I had a really bad experience in New York, where my seasonal allergies were just at an all-time high — I could barely breathe and I was just really out of sorts. I started to research — and the most prevalent reason that pollen counts are growing is because of climate change, because as temperatures rise, trees think it’s a different season, basically, and they release more pollen. Then there is the botanical sexism theory as well. I read that article and jokes started firing off in my head.

Since you’ve written and performed stand-up, do you talk much with the Hacks writers about the stand-up material for Deborah within the show?

Strangely, we don’t really talk about that much. They all have performance backgrounds, and a lot of the writers in the room are comedians themselves. I have always felt that Deborah’s stand-up feels so spot-on to the comedian that she has been and evolves into — every phase of her comedy feels so true to what that comedian would write.

If you’re burning this material for the special, does that mean you’ve started on something new? What is that process like for you — is there any fear of the unknown?

Yes, certainly. I have a new material show that I’m doing at the Lyric Hyperion [Theater]. I’ll do that pretty frequently. Right now, I have a first trial run kickoff, but hopefully I’ll do it biweekly, and I’ll just start to build up stuff and improvise and just get on stage. The Lyric Hyperion in L.A. is a great venue with a lot of great shows, if people want to check it out. I’ll just be there, and I’ll work out the new stuff. I’m lucky to have the time to develop — many comedians have to just churn it out, so it is a privilege that I have the ability to take my time here.

Interview edited and condensed.

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