The Untold Truth Of Hannah Einbinder
Chances are you were entirely unfamiliar with the name Hannah Einbinder before HBO added another winning comedy-drama to their stable in 2021 with “Hacks.” But anyone who’s watched the show about an aging comic attempting to get down with the youth is now unlikely to forget it.
Einbinder plays Ava Daniels, a spoiled millennial who’s tasked with reviving the career of Jean Smart’s Las Vegas regular with fresher material, only for the learning process to go both ways. She received rave reviews from the offset for her breakthrough performance, with Entertainment Weekly describing her as “immensely appealing” and the Los Angeles Times praising her “remarkable job of embodying a seemingly awful person who doesn’t think she’s awful and who, not all that deep down, isn’t that awful at all.”
But where did this emerging comic talent come from? From famous family members to funny inspirations, here’s a look at Hannah Einbinder’s untold truth.
Hannah Einbinder comes from comedic royalty
Hannah Einbinder was perhaps always destined to pursue a career in comedy. After all, she hails from a family renowned for their funnybones. Her sibling Spike plays Water’s Shadow in “Los Espookys” and has guested on “High Maintenance.” Father Chad was a regular face in “3rd Rock from the Sun” and “Still Standing.” And her Emmy-winning aunt Tracy Newman’s writing credits include “The Nanny,” “Cheers” and “Ellen.”
Of course, it’s Einbinder’s mother who currently remains the most famous member of her clan. Laraine Newman appeared alongside the likes of the notoriously shady Chevy Chase, John Belushi, and Gilda Radner on the original series of “Saturday Night Live” and spent five seasons on the comedy institution before leaving in 1980. Younger audiences may also have seen her play the villain in “Problem Child 2” and more recently she’s lent her voice to “Inside Out,” “The Grinch” and the “Despicable Me” franchise.
But Einbinder insisted to People in 2021 that she’s never benefited from nepotism: “I had to learn a lot on my own. There’s no other way. I started open mics right after college and no one can prepare you for that. I was out there, going all over the city, every single night of the week after my coffee shop job, with like, an almond milk-soaked flannel. Failing and succeeding and failing and succeeding for years. There’s really nothing anyone can do. You just have to do it.”
Hannah Einbinder spent much of her teenage years high
Hannah Einbinder may have grown up in a comedic family but she never seriously thought about extending their legacy until her late teens. In fact, she never really seriously thought about anything as a kid thanks to both the copious amount of weed she smoked in high school and the Adderall she was prescribed for her ADHD.
“I was a funny, bouncing off-the-walls kid,” Einbinder told Nylon in 2021. “But so much they were like ‘Lock it down, medicate this little b***h.'” The actress, who briefly considered a career in journalism essentially because she read the daily newspaper from front to back, admits she subsequently turned into something of a zombie. Yet Einbinder also acknowledges that her substance intake prepared her for the career she eventually chose to pursue.
The star added, “I have an unscientific theory that the years of Adderall and weed carved out my neural pathways, working together to create the hyper-analytical, critical mind that you need to do comedy. I’ve always been a goof, but I think the effects of those drugs served me in a weird way. I think with comedy I found a way to potentially harness that damage for good.”
Hannah Einbinder made waves quickly
Hannah Einbinder might have only decided to carve out a career in the comedy world at a relatively late age. But she soon made up for lost time. Within a few years of making her stage debut, the star had booked a gig on one of America’s premier talk shows.
In 2020, Einbinder delivered a set on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” and it was a record-breaking one, too. Yes, aged just 23, the stand-up became the youngest ever stand-up to be given such an honor.
So how did she kick off such a momentous occasion? Well, after a significant pause, Einbinder assumed the character of a cigarette-flicking beat poet. Accompanied by some jazz music and dimming lights, she then quipped, “My mother had me when she was 42, because before that she was … busy.” This was, of course, a reference to her mom Laraine Newman’s turbulent personal life. The New York Times wrote, “It was clear from this unorthodox opening that this was a precocious and poised comic more interested in originality than convention.”
Steve Martin is Hannah Einbinder's hero
Hannah Einbinder grew up listening to comedy albums by the likes of Patton Oswalt and the Sklar Brothers. But there’s one much older stand-up that will always have a particularly special place in the “Hacks” actress’ heart — and it’s someone who once worked with her mother.
Referring to her style of humor in a 2021 interview with Nylon, Einbinder said, “I’m not parodying old-school comedy so much as I find those old styles really funny and want to engage with them in a modern way. Steve Martin, I listened to him every single day when I got into stand-up. He was the biggest in the world, playing arenas, but what he was doing is something you’d find today in Silver Lake. He was destroying the format.”
So which modern-day comedians get the Einbinder seal of approval? Well, the star is a big fan of Taylor Tomlinson, describing the “Last Comic Standing” finalist as one of the best of her generation: “She is as classic in her format as it comes but her ideas are refreshing. It’s like, ‘When Taylor exists, I gotta do something else.'”
Hannah Einbinder is a self-confessed comedy nerd
As well as offering the perk of working with the legendary Jean Smart, “Hacks” also gave Hannah Einbinder the opportunity to further indulge in her number one passion: comedy. Following in the footsteps of “I’m Dying Up Here” and “Crashing,” the HBO hit became the latest show to center on the world of stand-up. And the woman who played its younger upstart Ava believes it did it better than any other.
Einbinder told Nylon in 2021, “It was not only thrilling to be involved in something that explored comedy, but to be in something that explored it successfully, which very little pop culture does. When it comes to TV about comedy, they almost exclusively fail. But I love it so much. Like, if Deborah Vance were a real person, I would have loved her old stuff and been destroyed by who she was today, that a pioneer had lost their edge.”
Indeed, although Einbinder took a while to find her calling, she is now a fully-fledged comedy nerd. She added, “It’s truly my favorite thing in the whole world. It’s a gift. When I do stand-up, there’s always a chance I can feel good. I’ve come a long way in terms of self-worth, but I was so desperate for that when I started.”
Hannah Einbinder isn't a fan of Twitter
As of this writing, Hannah Einbinder has more than 21,000 followers on Instagram, a number which will surely grow and grow in the wake of her success on “Hacks.” But you won’t find the actress on Twitter. Well, not anymore anyway.
In her 2021 interview with Nylon, Einbinder revealed that she used to tweet. But thanks to the bane of social media, trolls, — and Nazi ones at that — she decided to leave the platform for good. But online abuse isn’t the only reason why she now gives Twitter a wide berth. The comedy nerd also believes it’s a haven for toxic discourse. And then there was the worry that she was essentially ruining her stand-up act, too.
Einbinder explained in another chat with The Hollywood Reporter’s THR Presents that same year, “I believe social media is cool for whoever loves it, but I feel sucked into a vortex of negativity, sort of opposite to the kinds of conversations that lead to understanding and progress. The division is really tough for me to be on there … I deleted [Twitter] because I’m a stand-up comedian and I found that in the pandemic, I switched my stand-up brain to a Twitter brain and I was trying to write jokes for Twitter. And I [felt], ‘This is messing with my work.’ I need to just write my stuff and not worry about completing this week’s formula for a joke that we’re all doing.”
Hannah Einbinder is BFFs with her Hacks co-star
Hannah Einbinder and Jean Smart may constantly trade insults while playing Ava Daniels and Deborah Vance on HBO’s comedy about comedy, “Hacks.” But off-screen, the pair have developed a relationship that the younger half describes as “so loving and wonderful.”
Not that they’re entirely averse to throwing the odd bit of shade at each other in real life, as Einbinder explained to E! in 2021: “Jean is such a dear friend and mentor. It really is when Ava and Deborah are getting along, that’s me and Jean. It really is just us, you know? Even when they’re doing their little verbal daggers back-and-forth, that’s our friendship.”
Smart certainly appeared to relish teasing her co-star when the news of “Hacks” being recommissioned was made official. In a statement (via Deadline), the veteran actress said, “I am absolutely thrilled we are picked up for a second season and I told Hannah it’s ‘No more Miss Nice Guy; from now on it’s Bette and Joan! And guess who’s BETTE??!'” Smart was, of course, referring to Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, the silver screen icons whose catty relationship was dramatized in Ryan Murphy’s “Feud.”
Hannah Einbinder is different from her Hacks character
After years of trying out for roles that essentially boiled down to “kooky party girl” or “bookworm introvert,” Hannah Einbinder finally found a part that she could relate to. “It’s the first time I’ve auditioned for someone and it was like, ‘Yeah, this girl is a friend of mine,'” the actress told Vanity Fair about her “Hacks” character Ava Daniels.
The sparring partner of Jean Smart’s Deborah Vance may have been easier to connect with. But although they share several similarities (Einbinder told The New York Times that her character is a “25-year-old bisexual comedy person living in Los Angeles who has just recently had a life-altering thing happen”) Einbinder insists that she and Ava are not as alike as many people seem to think.
In a 2021 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Einbinder said, “I think we are fundamentally different in that Ava doesn’t really have much of a filter, and she is stubborn in a way. In every argument I’m like, ‘Definitely, totally see your point, I could be wrong, I could absolutely be wrong,’ and I’m neurotic and overanalyze every word that flies out of my trap. But Ava doesn’t seem to do that. She really just lets it rip. She’s just a freewheeling girl.”
Hannah Einbinder has imposter syndrome
Think that co-stars of critically-acclaimed HBO comedies aren’t constantly plagued by insecurities about their talents? Well, think again. Hannah Einbinder may have wowed audiences with her portrayal of Ava Daniels in “Hacks.” But she admitted to Vanity Fair in 2021 that she first arrived on set with a significant bout of imposter syndrome.
Einbinder explained, “It is intimidating being with these actors who are such lifelong professionals … I was like, ‘I feel out of place, I feel wrong here, they should have gotten someone with more experience’ … I very easily can spiral into believing the worst things.” However, she now feels a little more confident about her abilities as a thespian, adding, “it came to the point where, I respect Jean so much, and I respect [“Hacks” creators] Paul, Lucia [Aniello] and Jen [Statsky] so much. If they say I’m doing a good job, and I respect them and their opinions, then I can choose to believe them. It’s made me feel a lot better.”
Smart certainly appears to have faith in her fellow leading lady, telling The Ringer that same year, “I just feel so lucky that we found her, because she’s just a natural, and she’s such an incredible individual too. She’s so funny and kind and so thoughtful and interesting.”
Hannah Einbinder is a homebody
After spending much of her youth, by her own admission, in a constant state of highness, Hannah Einbinder appears to have become a little more clean-living in her twenties. During a 2021 interview with Glamour magazine, the actress was asked what her ideal day would consist of. And the answer wasn’t exactly a hedonist’s paradise.
Einbinder said, “It would be so much more fun to tell you that I spend my days rock climbing, but … no, I am a homebody, to be honest. I love baking — I’m really into babka — reading, and just kickin’ it. I am 26, but I do feel pretty weary and tired. Aside from my little walks, I feel like an old man. I like a nice dessert, sitting and looking out my window and strolling for my exercise. What could be better?”
And don’t expect to see Einbinder splashing all that HBO cash on anything particularly extravagant, either. A Breville espresso machine was the first thing that the comedian bought with her first paycheck, as she explained: “I used to be a barista and have missed a proper steaming wand and being able to pull my own shots, as they say. I worked at Alfred’s Coffee, and we actually shot there in the pilot episode. I knew all the people working there. It felt crazy.”
Hannah Einbinder was discovered by Nicole Byer
Turns out that Hannah Einbinder has the woman who oversees Netflix’s premier disastrous baking show to thank for her career. Yes, it was only when the successful Nicole Byer turned up at her college looking for opening acts that the “Hacks” star suddenly realized comedy was her destiny.
Einbinder was subsequently selected to support the future “Nailed It” host after working on a set that lasted eight minutes. She told People in 2021, “It was my first time writing my own comedy. That night that I performed. I feel like I caught the bug and it hasn’t left me since.”
And the future star soon realized that the stand-up circuit was full of like-minded souls: “You just talk to other comedians. The community is so important, because comedians are the only people who will really get it. You also have to accept that failure is a huge part of this path. It’s really about the bounce-back, [and] if you’re willing to learn from it. Not every comedian is for everyone, and sometimes you just have to understand you’re not going to get everybody.”
Hannah Einbinder has always been funny
Hannah Einbinder may have taken a while to launch her stand-up career. But according to her mother, she’s always been naturally funny. In a 2021 interview with The New York Times, Laraine Newman suggested that the ability to make people laugh runs in the family.
The former “Saturday Night Live” star recalled, “I’ll never forget at age seven she was at a Mexican restaurant. She raised a cheese and bean burrito, looked at her butt and said, ‘Get ready.’ I thought, ‘That’s good.'” Newman also revealed that her daughter would often nail impersonations of her friends’ parents while growing up, adding, “Her ear for dialects is better than mine, but she wouldn’t use them.”
Instead of taking this as a compliment, though, Einbinder appeared to see this as a dig about her approach to comedy. She responded, “This woman thinks that if my whole act isn’t a Groundlings submission tape, I’m not doing voices. It’s our version of ‘You should marry a doctor.'” Adopting the kind of character her mom would like to see more of, the star added, ‘”You should do voices in the act. You really should. You’re breaking my heart if you don’t do voices in the act.”
Hannah Einbinder wouldn't changer her mom for anything
Hannah Einbinder may occasionally get frustrated with her mother Laraine Newman’s career advice. But speaking to Vanity Fair in 2021, the “Hacks” star insisted that she wouldn’t change her for the world. And she now appreciates just how much the “Saturday Night Live” graduate did for her while simultaneously battling her own demons.
Einbinder said, “With any child and parent, most of the early years are this dynamic of a child feeling misunderstood by their parent … It’s not really in terms of comedy, but in terms of life, that the older I get the more overwhelmed I am with empathy for my parents — specifically for my mom, who has overcome a lot in her life, and who really did her best with me and with my sibling.”
The stand-up admits she saw Newman differently while growing up but due to her age rather than her troubled personal life. Einbinder specifically referred to the time her mother required knee replacement surgery when she was in her most hyperactive phase: “Maybe when I was a kid, she couldn’t, you know, come with me on the monkey bars — but, you know, I feel so much better off having a mom who was able to impart a lot of her wisdom to me very early on.”
Hannah Einbinder likes to pay it forward
In 2021, Hannah Einbinder joined the likes of “Superstore” regular Nico Santos, “Orange Is the New Black” star Laverne Cox and “The Flight Attendant” actor Griffin Matthews on the panel for Variety’s Power of Pride Conversations. Coinciding with the magazine’s Pride Issue, the event saw each panelist discuss how they have promoted inclusivity through their work.
The year previously the “Hacks” star had also displayed her altruistic streak by organizing an online comedy show whose proceeds went to the initiative Jews for Racial and Economic Justice New York. “Saturday Night Live” favorite Chloe Fineman and “The Late Late Show” bandleader Reggie Watts were just a few of the big names who signed up for the event dubbed “Hannah Einbinder Presents! Musicians and Comedians Would Love it if You Came to Our Virtual Show and Donated to the Cause.”
Einbinder explained (via Jewish Journal) during the show why she decided to dedicate the night to such a cause: “[JFREJ] does a lot of work in New York. They’ve been against police brutality, they work a lot for workers’ rights … They’ve fought to protect the little guy in New York. It is a Jewish value to heal the world so it’s just a really wonderful organization that I love.”
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