A&O speakers Hannah Einbinder and Megan Stalter blend fiction with reality during stand-up sets


Jonah Elkowitz/Daily Senior Staffer

Meghan Stalter speaks to the crowd. Stalter and Einbinder performed stand-up comedy as A&O’s fall speakers.

Olivia Mofus, Reporter

Comedians and actors Hannah Einbinder and Megan Stalter, stars of HBO’s critically acclaimed dramedy series “Hacks,” delivered a series of stand-up comedy performances as A&O Productions’ 2022 Fall Speakers on Wednesday.

“Hacks” follows the relationship between legendary comedian Deborah Vance (Jean Smart) and young comedy writer Ava Daniels (Einbinder) as they develop what the show’s writers call a “dark mentorship.” Stalter plays Kayla, the assistant to Deborah and Ava’s agent. 

Communication senior Maddie Hughes, who watched both seasons of “Hacks” in the span of two weeks last year, said she’s a fan of both comedians.

“I’m very, very, very excited,” Hughes said moments before the performance. “I’m familiar with them from Instagram, but I’ve never seen their stand-up before.”  

The night began with an opening act by Communication junior Orly Lewittes, a comedy writer and student performer. Her stand-up set addressed sexuality, therapy and family life. 

She then welcomed Stalter to the stage. Stalter began by joking about the empty seats in the auditorium after dancing to a song called “Party Girl Number One.” Her set delved into an improvised scene she performed with three randomly selected audience members. Stalter finished with a reading of a made-up novel before she left the stage to Einbinder.

“What’s up fellow children?” Einbinder opened her set. “I’m just one of you, it’s all good.” 

Einbinder spoke about navigating her ADHD through medication, therapy, meditation and hypnosis. While jumping between different stories and anecdotes, she also spoke about antisemitism within the news, living in what she called a “very queer family” and toxic masculinity. 

“Hacks” portrays the experiences of women and LGBTQ+ people in the comedy industry, and both Stalter and Einbinder spoke about their own experiences as women in comedy. 

“If you’re a woman or nonbinary person, anyone that’s not a man, putting up any comedy thing, you’re getting about the most mean comments on a daily basis — the most mean things you’ve ever heard in your damn life,” Stalter said.  

The comedians finished the night by giving the students advice. 

Einbinder implored younger students to expand their worldview by taking classes unrelated to their major, while Stalter encouraged students to live for themselves in and out of university. 

“You need to get out of school, right now,” Stalter said. “Run out the door.” 

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