by Ryan Meehan
Rachel Feinstein grew up outside Washington DC in the ruthless streets of Bethesda, Maryland. She maintained a healthy, robust D- average in school, while still finding time to mock and imitate her loved ones. Rachel moved to New York city at age 17 to start her career as an actress and slowly developed her character driven stand up act which her mother refers to as her “Talent Show.” Rachel’ s Comedy Central Presents stand up special is now airing. She was also a finalist on Season 7’s “Last Comic Standing” and was featured on Russell Simmons, “Live at the El Ray”, TBS’s “Just for Laughs” series and “Comics Unleashed.” Rachel has written for “The Onion” and has voiced various characters on Adult Swim’s “Venture Brothers”, the animated Comedy Central web series, “Samurai Love God” and Spike TV’s “Battle Pope.” She has also been seen on E! And CNN’s “Not Just Another Cable News Show. Rachel also reviews hip hop as her Grandma based on a Star of David ratings system on comedycentral.com. You can hear the character, “Ice Cold Rhoda”, “The Original Gangster Grandma” interviewing Ginuwine and Rhoda can be seen as VH1’s hip hop correspondent on their music special, “The Winningest Winners of 2011”. Ice Cold Rhoda is the only member of the AARP and the Illimunati. International spots include “Montreal Comedy Festival”, Scotland’s “Glasgow Comedy Festival”, a TV show in Amsterdam that Rachel can’t remember the name of and a U.S. Military tour in Korea. She was kind enough to take timeout from her busy schedule and be our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: What moment early on in your life did you realize that you had a true gift when it came to entertaining people and making them laugh? Did you get into comedy shortly thereafter; or did it take you a while to finally decide to get up on stage? What was your first experience doing comedy like and which joke that you told got the best response?
RF: I did something called the bagel face that people would request. I was around 6 then. I don’t know what it was, just some heinous expression that the other kids enjoyed I guess. I liked accents. I loved to talk back to people in their accents and I remember being told this was rude as a kid. I was disappointed because it was such a satisfying thing to do. I would do this imitation of my 7th grade teacher, Ms. Vuolo and someone told her about it and she insisted that I do it in front of the class. She was so cool about it and she loved it. Everyone laughed and i remember how amazing that felt. I was an awful student and so insecure about how badly I was doing in school and I remember feeling really powerful and confident for the rest of that day. I guess I was slowly realizing that I was talented at something and maybe there was some path there.
RM: How difficult is it to do character work when the audience is not familiar with the person that you are trying to imitate? Do you consider that to be part of the challenge? In your opinion, who is the best impressionist of all time and why?
RF: I don’t think it’s too hard if you describe the person and your relationship with them first. When someone’s describing someone, I try to picture them and picture what bothers or delights them about this person, try to understand their gripe or compliment or whatever it is…so you’re sort of helping the listener if you can quickly “become” the subject of a rant.
I loved Tracy Ullman and Sacha Barron Cohen.
RM: You had some really tough competition on Last Comic Standing (Myq Kaplan, Tommy Jonaghin, and the late Mike DeStefano)…Was it any easier to be eliminated from that show knowing that you were up against such talented competition? Did you begin working on your full-length album right away or did you take some time off?
RF: I didn’t take any time off. I think I toured for almost an entire year afterwards. I needed to work. I was close with a lot of the comics and I never really believed that I had a chance at winning so I was more sad than angry when I got eliminated. I don’t think I’m competitive enough and it’s probably a quality I should work on trying to obtain. I remember saying that I knew I wouldn’t win in some interview that they did with me on the show and everyone looked shocked that I said that. I realize now what a dumb thing that was to say in a competition. It’s not that I had some great heart and don’t care about winning. I think I just have that mentality of an under achiever, of someone that never did well in school or in any competition so I have that instinct to avoid any formal test of any kind. I’m sure it’s a defense mechanism. I remember feeling really stupid and eating and weeping a lot at a friend’s place in LA after I was eliminated. I also had some article of clothing that they asked me to put back in my trailer so that was a hilariously sad moment. But I also realize that it’s a reality show and not to be taken that seriously. I got a lot of work out of it and I got to hang out with comics that I became really close to and I actually liked and respected the judges so I feel like I lucked out in so many ways by being on that season. Tommy Johnagin, Laurie Killmartin, Myq Kaplan and Nikki Glaser are all friends of mine and people that I love watching so I had a lot of fun with them. I also love Fortune Feimster and we’ll both be taping half hour Comedy Central specials next week in Boston!
RM: Is the whole stigma of being a female comedian an overstated label within the industry of standup? Do you think the term “comedienne” is particularly necessary; or do you think that there’s no reason to have an entirely separate term for that?
RF: I don’t think it’s good to focus on words and whether we should use them or if they’re offensive. It’s more productive to notice people’s attitudes and that’s something you can feel. People remind me that I’m a woman more than I’m thinking about it.
RM: What do you feel is your greatest strength as a comic aside from your character work? Does that differ significantly from the way you would have answered that question five years ago? Why or why not?
RF: I don’t know. I feel like a fraud half of the time. On an average night of running around doing sets up and downtown, I have moments where I feel like I’m really onto something and others where I feel completely frustrated. If I keep trying to write and tweak stuff as much as I can, keep getting up, trying jokes even after they bomb then I guess I’m improving. Some of my favorite stuff that I’m doing now bombed for a while but I didn’t stop trying it. So I hope I can keep reminding myself to do stuff that feels awkward and difficult and not give up on it or resort to old material, if I’m doing that than I’m growing. Is that an answer? I hope so.
RM: How did you get involved with Jackson Publick and Keith Crofford to do work on “The Venture Brothers”? Is it true that voiceover work is the easiest money in Hollywood?
RF: I think it’s good money but that was a one shot thing and I really lucked out. I had a friend who brought her boyfriend to see me and he was an animation editor for Venture Brothers. He recommended me, I came in and didn’t have to audition. I had a great time. The show has this wild following and I didn’t realize all that until after I recorded it. I’m glad for that because I probably would have been more nervous if I knew!
RM: What’s up next for you in 2014? Anything big in the works that I should know about?
RF: I’m taping my second Comedy Central Special at the Royale Theater in Boston next week on Wed, the 26th! Get free tickets to the taping here: http://www.theblacklistnyc.com/ccboston
Official Website: http://rachel-feinstein.com/
Rachel on Twitter: https://twitter.com/RachelFeinstein
Once again thanks for visiting First Order Historians and enjoying more of the internet’s finest in user generated content.