In our new series we do quick interviews with our favorite comedians with great gigs coming up. Our first is an interview with Rachel Feinstein.
Rachel Feinstein is a New York based national touring comedian who can hang with anyone, and as anyone (she does amazing characters and voices). She just finished recording an album for Comedy Central in November, and is currently filming a pilot for Comedy Central that is being executive produced by Amy Schumer (more on that here, in this week’s industry column). Rachel was a finalist on season 7 of Last Comic Standing, co-hosted season one of Tru TV’s “Upload with Shaquille Oneal,” has been featured on Showtime’s “Women Who Kill” comedy special, and she’s about to record her second special for Comedy Central. This week, she’ll be performing on Comedy Underground Live with Dave Attell, widely considered to be one of the best comedy shows in New York City.
We asked Rachel 5 questions and got to hear about her favorite laugh-er, her recent trip to Kuwait, and her favorite place to perform in the country.
I have a high school friend, that we talk on the phone a lot. and she knew me before I did stand up or anything and so I would just be making weird odd faces for her in her kitchen, but she only laughed if she thought something was really funny. She’s a social worker in Colorado but she’s still like that so its satisfying. She doesn’t think of me as a comedian, we’re just friends and we’ve been friends since we were 13 and she’s kind of one of those introverted friends and when they laugh it’s really real. And they have that satisfying, addictive sort of odd laugh. Its a very satisfying feeling because its the kind of laugh you couldn’t possibly replicate. It couldn’t be insincere, it’s so jarring and sudden.
It can be very isolating and there are times in your life where you might be going through something and you need to be near your friends and you can’t. Sometimes you’re in a pleasing place or sometimes you’re in some heinous city having weird shows and there’s a lot of alone time so you’re sort of roaming around some new place. It can definitely be isolating. There’s places I love and there’s places you literally have to hurl your body to… and it feels like the most in-organic thing to do with yourself but you’ve got to be there. It’s just not one of those things– if you have a weekend, you have to be there, so you hurl yourself there no matter what’s — things is happening.
I love Austin. Cap City comedy club in Austin- great club. Another club called Comedy Club on State in Madison Wisconsin — probably some of the best shows I’ve ever had. Amazing. You could say anything, they didn’t get weird or offended, they listened, they didn’t talk.
Sometimes you’ll get an audience that’s excited, and they’re supportive of the show but they misunderstand their responsibility as audience members, so you’ll be in the middle of something and they’ll be like “yeah cause one time i did something like that and then that happened!” They don’t understand that it’s not a back and forth thing. And then afterwards, they’ll be like “that was great! when you said the thing, and then I…..” I’m like no, I didn’t want that to happen. That was childish and disruptive for me. Cause they’ll say something and you’ll have to make fun of them or deal with them, you know? And then they think that they gave you something by doing that. “We made a little comedy, ourselves, I made a funny and then you made the funny, we created this quilt.”
But those shows in Madison, the crowds were just attentive and cool. It’s probably the best place I’ve played. I think I’ve only played there once. Maybe they’ll read this and have me back again.
I was in Kuwait last month. It was interesting. The people were really nice. When I got to the hotel, they were waiting for me with roses, and this weird sparkly kind of orange juice and a platter of dates. And they took all these pictures. I think they just do it with every American, I don’t know if was just me; and they gave me a platter of dates and walked me up to my room and then they all walked into the room with me. That was the strangest part. I was like ‘I dont know where this is going, are we going to have sex or….’; they just walked in the room and it was like seven staff members and I had just been on some 14 hour flight and I was just standing there with these people, like, ‘okay.’ But they were so nice. They kept sending me up like weird treats, and I was eating them all, like no questions asked. I’m like that when I travel, I just hurl things in my mouth. They sent up this like wooden tree kind of looking thing. And there was a little treat in each space, inside of this wooden tree and I just popped it all in my mouth. I was just like yes…yes…yes. I quickly just destroyed that wooden tree. I ate everything.
They just would send weird things up to my room, and I would eat everything. I knew nothing about what I was throwing in myself and we did a big show. There was Godfrey, Wil Sylvince, and me, for around 4,000 people. It was definitely harder in terms of the set because they had a million things I wasn’t allowed to say. And the minister of communication for the government came backstage before the show to tell us to work clean. So that’s a terrifying feeling. You can’t say certain things. The crowd was pretty good, I just had to change a lot of jokes. There’s this joke where I say sexy dance, and they’re like yeah, you probably shouldn’t say sexy. They wanted me to change it to belly dance, so I changed it to belly dance — and it killed! It had nothing to do with what I wanted to say. But yeah it killed.
It was interesting. Everybody was, the people that were showing up were really nice though. We definitely got spoiled there and that was fun but it was completely bizarre and I couldn’t say a lot of things. I had to change almost every joke. Maz Jobrani was on the show too, so he was backstage and I was like, can i say this, can i say that, can i say this. Everybody wanted him, cause he performs all over the middle east, you know he’s middle eastern, so we were all trying to hog him and go through our sets rapidly. Will they like this? Can I say that? So I just kept grabbing Maz, I’m like where’s Maz? All my anxiety before this, I’d just rush up to him and rapidly telling him some joke, must seem very odd and unfunny to him and he’s like no you can’t say that, say this instead.
Dave Attell is hysterical. Yes. So fun, and so funny. It’s a really fun show. I think he’s just so hilarious. And he’s one of those guys, anything that happens he can react to it in the funniest most brilliant most unexpected way. So anything that happens in the room- anything that somebody says or does, and sometimes you stay after and chat with him, it keeps you on your toes. That’s one moment I actually will get nervous– when I stay on with Attell. I know no matter what I say– it’s hard to keep up with him because he’s so good. But its good for you to sort of make yourself do that, you know?
Yeah, he’s so nice, he’s so cool to other comics and he’s helped me a lot ever since I started stand up he’d always give me work or do something nice or some unexpected cool referral that I’d find out later would come from him. He’s just a lovely lovely guy.
See Rachel his Tuesday at The Village Underground for Comedy Underground with Dave Attell.