Rachel Feinstein rose up the national comedy ranks as a finalist on Season 7 of Last Comic Standing. From there she’s written for The Onion, voiced characters on Adult Swim’s Venture Brothers, released a stand-up album, Thug Tears, and toured the world.
We recently had the opportunity to speak wit her about her experience on a reality show, her work cranking out web series, and her recent Showtime special with Amy Schumer and Nikki Glaser, and how she was almost featured in Vogue Magazine when they confused her with another Rachel Feinstein.
To begin, what was it like moving to New York at 17 to pursue stand-up?
I was a silly person. I moved here with a guy and his band. I did some theater. I cried a lot and I wore these ridiculous looking overalls every day until someone heckled me and called me “Super Mario Brothers.”
I worked at some store called “Fat Shoes and Clothes” on Broadway for a little while. Here’s how dumb I was at the time; I thought that I had arrived in some way because I got this job on Broadway. I thought it was big stuff and I told everyone that would listen. I showed up for my first day and I played the Beastie Boys on the way over and was really feline’ myself. I was fired in under 4 hours because I couldn’t fold. I cried while my boss Sharif was firing me. Tears were rolling out but he was right. I had a terrible folding system. My folds looked all mangled and deranged and my hands would shake while I was doing it because I knew they were rancid. Sharif noticed. I saw him looking real grossed out in my direction and I knew it was coming.
From your bio, it seems like you lived a fairly quote-unquote “normal” life as a child. Is it hard finding comedy through those situations, when so many others had almost tortured pasts?
I was a depressed kid. Nothing terrible happened, that’s true. But I felt this impending doom most of the time. And I was such an awful student. Always D’s and F’s and summer school every year so I was very insecure about all that failing. I still feel messed up when I walk into a school for any reason. I was a very slovenly girl and lost everything and always had my hair wet and dripping down my back. People called me “wet back” at school. I don’t think that every depressed kid does stand up but I do think it’s some cocktail of sadness in the childhood and an innate ability for comedy in most of us.
I became a fan of your work through Last Comic Standing. Would you recommend new comedians to go through something like that?
It was 6 weeks on NBC and enabled me to start headlining and make a living off stand-up and finally quit my day job. It was also a reality show and so it was ridiculous in all the ways that reality shows are ridiculous. My year was a bit tamer than the others at least, I didn’t have a sequester boat with the cast and no one smacked me.
Did Last Comic Standing change your comedy at all?
I think I got stronger through the process and all the anxiety. I read everything that everyone wrote about me on every message board. And some people hated me so passionately and would all agree and attack me together. It’s my fault for reading things that people named “Mr Twat Waffles” or “Joey doe or die 69” wrote about me and choosing to internalize them. But I learned a lot, and mainly to stop doing that.
When did you realize you had a really great middle-aged-woman-from-the-50’s impression?
I’ve always liked that voice and I always imitated it since I was a kid. Those movies are hilarious and the women were often such wild morons in this fascinating way. Our choices were so absurd and limited at that time. My grandmother, who was this incredibly smart, sarcastic, spirited woman — her father chose her job for her. He told each of his daughters that they could do a few jobs that were acceptable to ladies if they insisted upon doing anything besides making cupcakes and giggling.
I think that it’s really funny in it’s awfulness. And it was not so long ago that guys ordered food for women too, that is so hilarious to me. The idea that a guy just chooses what his woman’s stomach needs.
Do you ever get confused with Rachel Feinstein the sculptor?
I have and we have a mutual friend and we’ve hung out at her wedding and talked about it recently. I once got an email from someone at Vogue asking if they could write about me in their fashion issue as a great trend setter of the time and then they politely retracted a few hours later.
It was the other Rachel Feinstein. She’s this very stylish, celebrated beauty and is referred to as Marc Jacob’s “muse.” I was really flattered because I mostly shop at cheap ho-bag stores like Forever 21 and I usually have a rogue stain on me.
Who are some of your comedy heroes?
I loved Tracy Ullman growing up. I would put a robe on and pretend I was her and do that “Go Home, Go home!” thing she would do at the end of the show. I also liked Janeane Garafalo and Woody Allen movies a lot growing up.
Tell me about Malorie’s Final Score.
I do stand-up in it the main character is playing with her phone in the front row of my show and I attack her and mock her. She was a really lovely person and I felt bad mocking her so viciously. We taped it at the Comedy Cellar. I haven’t seen it yet.
Can you talk about your latest Showtime special Women Who Kill?
It was me, Amy Schumer, Marina Franklin and Nikki Glaser. We’re all really close so it was nice not to have to manufacture a connection. I was so happy that night and I can see it at the end when we all came out. It was really fun and I’m proud of it.
What’s next for Rachel Feinstein?
More stand-up. I’d like to do an hour special next. I have a new web series on Official Comedy” called “Rachel’s Lady Parts.” I’m also doing another web series for BBC about the movies called “Reel Advice.” I’m on this season of World’s Dumbest on TruTV and Hip Hop Squares on MTV 2.
For more information on Rachel, you can visit her website at or follow her on Twitter at @RachelFeinstein. For more information on the other Rachel Feinstein, you can check out her Wikipedia page here.