Over spring break, I had the opportunity to speak with Rachel Feinstein, a stand-up comic and actress who has both years of experience in the field and quite a few notches on her IMDb page, including projects like "Life & Beth" starring Amy Schumer and "Top Five" directed by Chris Rock.
After watching clips of Feinstein’s standup, "Only Whores Wear Purple," to prepare for the interview, I noticed she made quite a lot of impressions, often mimicking her parents, friends or random people she’s met that have made for funny encounters.
I found the bit where Feinstein did her mom’s voice especially impressive and was easily able to picture her mother adorned with what Feinstein described as an "angular" haircut.
When I asked her about her talent for mimicry in the interview, she said that impressions come pretty naturally to her, a talent that may have been passed down from her father.
During our time together, Feinstein explained how she entered the world of performing through theater which was helpful for her stand-up as it taught her how to interact with a live audience.
In addition to this, she’s also done a lot of TV, which proved to have a learning curve for her — she had to spend time figuring out how to be on camera after having only live performance experiences. She mentioned how the "electricity doesn’t get captured" in the same way for TV and, as a result, creates more of a challenge for the actor.
Though live performing is now her comfort zone, it wasn’t always that way, as she initially struggled with stage fright. Audience response when she was first starting out didn’t help either, as some crowds were less than welcoming, something any fan of live-comedy knows all too well.
When it comes to heckling, Feinstein reflected that she doesn’t let it bother her as she doesn’t consider her hecklers worth her time anyway. "They run a little dumb," she deadpanned, "it’s not like it’s this great match for your wit."
Feinstein described an instance when a sexist audience member threw a note at her during her set that wrote, "Go back to the kitchen." Now, Feinstein just laughs it off, considering the oddity of someone taking the time just to write that message. "It just gets easier the more you do it," she said.
Feinstein had advice for those wanting to enter the world of stand-up comedy, saying that there’s no "best way" to do it, "It’s gonna be grueling for a little while — you have to just keep getting up." One of her first gigs was in a laundry mat that also doubled as an open-mic spot, so clearly, aspiring comedians have to go through a bit of a struggle before they can find success.
Feinstein advises aspiring comedians to listen to their performance afterward, even if it makes them feel bad. She said that as a comic, you can think you did a good job after a set, but when you listen back, you come to the mortifying realization that you completely bombed. No one likes the sound of their own voice, but it’s vital for anyone just starting out.
When asked to describe her upcoming special in a single word, Feinstein promises that her show will be funny, which is all we, as patrons of stand-up comedy, can hope for. Her next show is at Bananas Comedy Club in Rutherford, New Jersey, where she’ll be trying out old and new material in preparation for her next hour special.