Hannah Einbinder is comedy’s big dreamer

Get a sneak peak of our upcoming cover story with comedian Hannah Einbinder, who opens up to HUNGER's Jordan Rossi about the beauty of failure and finding joy in her industry’s unpredictable landscape.
  • PhotographerAndrew Yee
  • WriterJordan Rossi

Jordan Rossi: To begin with, the theme for this issue is The Dreamers – what does that mean to you?

Hannah Einbinder: I think being a dreamer requires a certain amount of self-belief that I find admirable. It’s also so linked to a deep passion and drive. In my view, I think obsession is closely linked with the idea of being a dreamer and there is a purity to it. The dream is the crux of a person’s motivation towards the thing that they pursue.

JR: With your role as the struggling comedy writer Ava in the comedy-drama series Hacks, there seems to be a very clear contrast between characters who have some type of job security versus the idea of following your dreams, hopes and desires but without a safety net. Where do you sit on this spectrum and how have you got to the point you’re at today?

HE: In pursuing and auditioning for the role, I felt such a confidence in how unlikely it would be for me to actually get the part. It freed me to just really enjoy the work itself and the privilege of being able to interact with this pristine piece of comedy. There were no thoughts in my head, and maybe this is irresponsible, about longevity, the career, the exposure. My main concern was crafting the material. I genuinely did not consider anything beyond the words I was trying to arrange.

JR: Did you ever think about failure?

HE: You kind of throw yourself into it 100 per cent. I will say that, as a developing stand-up early on, you have to face failure head-on. You’re in environments where you’re failing constantly.

JR: Can they be quite hostile environments?

HE: You know, I don’t know that I would necessarily, in my experience, use the word “hostile” – “cold” would maybe be a word I would use. When you’re starting out on the open-mic scene, you’re performing only forother comedians who are frustrated that they are not currently on stage and are waiting to get on stage. So, to do well in that environment is difficult and the room is not necessarily always warm. But I think facing that failure and having to kind of train with ankle weights on in that way does help to keep you present in the pursuit of succeeding in a small room and really finding a way to get through to an audience of your peers.

JR: With the way you approached Hacks, and how unlikely the odds were, you ultimately got it and have been tremendously successful in it. Do you use that as a bit of a method when you’re auditioning for other things?

HE: I think there is a freedom in not having expectations. And I think the healthier, evolved version of that for me today would be not “I’m not going to get this”, but “I’m here to experience the process of doing the work”. I have to love and appreciate the work. And if I am auditioning for something, I already am interested in it and inspired by it, and it is an immense privilege to be able to choose to audition for certain things that I feel connected to.

This excerpt was taken from HUNGER Issue 31: The Dreamers. Full story is available in stores worldwide now. 

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