Comic Ester Steinberg isn’t afraid to dive into controversial issues whenever she takes the mic. After fleeing her native Tampa for the Big Apple to study theater at NYU, Steinberg, 24, began blending the world around her—social mores, cultural upbringings and man-children—into a biting and searing stand-up comedy set. A few years ago she transplanted across the country to West Coast comedy haven Los Angeles, with its legendary comedy clubs, overpriced artisanal water and hypersensitivity to certain topics of conversation.
Even though some comics tread softly when it comes to things like Holocaust jokes and cultural differences, Steinberg, who also appears in the Oxygen channel reality series Funny Girls, takes controversial topics head on. We spoke with the comedienne, who performs as part of the 2nd Not So Kosher Comedy Night this Thursday at Lucky’s Pub, about her inspirations, observations and the apocalyptic land of dating.
Houstonia: What can people expect when you take the stage this Thursday?
Ester Steinberg: A ton of Jew Jokes, a lot of jokes about Jews from the South and a lot about relationships. I like talking about how men don’t like funny women.
Who are some of your comedy heroes?
Sarah Silverman, Seinfeld, Dave Attel. Joan Rivers was a huge influence. I’d love to be a comedic voice for women.
Your humor is very observational. What sparked that process?
It has a lot to do with being an outsider. For instance, growing up, everyone around me was talking about Christmas. It was very clear in my family that Santa wasn’t real and Christmas wasn’t something we celebrated.
What’s the difference between the New York stand-up scene and Los Angeles?
In NYC you can talk about anything. In L.A. you can’t make fun of anyone, and you have to focus on yourself. Everyone is so sensitive and self-absorbed. So you have to make people laugh in those circumstances.
You also talk a lot about dating and relationships in your set. What’s the dating scene like for a female comedian?
I always get this when I go out with a guy—guys say, “Tell me a joke.” It is the single most obnoxious thing you can do. I also didn’t know Persian Jews existed. I dated the whole Loyola Law School.
2nd Not So Kosher Comedy Night. Thursday, Aug 20. 7:30. $20. Lucky’s Pub Downtown, 801 Saint Emanuel St. 713-729-3200. houstonjewish.org/comedynight