Hannah Einbinder Gives It Her All in Everything Must Go

Comedy Reviews Hannah Einbinder
Hannah Einbinder Gives It Her All in Everything Must Go

Comedian and actor Hannah Einbinder’s debut special Everything Must Go opens with the her driving at golden hour under Los Angeles palm trees, yé-yé singer Manou Roblin playing in the background, presumably to harken back to mid-20th century Hollywood. Einbinder flicks her eyes at the camera in the rearview mirror knowingly, establishing the self-assured and charming cadence that makes her seem to glide through the show.

Einbinder kicks off the set proper with her most well-known bit, in which she uses the film noir pastiche to tell us about her life as the daughter of an older, breadwinning mother (SNL’s Laraine Newman—not that Einbinder names her in the show). She’s haloed in blue light as she recalls in husky tones why her mother kissed her twice every night. Einbinder performed this joke on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert back in 2020, and the choice to put it up top in Everything Must Go is a clever one, getting the most familiar material (which is still good in its own right) out of the way. 

As the special unfolds, Einbinder tells us about her cannabis-filled adolescence, why she wants to donate her body to science, the hypothetical ADHD army, her first period, bisexuality, Jewish identity, and much more. Director Sandy Honig (of Three Busy Debras fame) keeps the camera close to Einbinder as she walks us through her life, and even when it zooms out, the audience is usually out of sight (save for a rare wide shot of the El Rey Theatre interior). This mostly works, making the special feel warm and cozy and leaning into the old-fashioned sensibilities that Einbinder apes at the beginning of her set. Every now and then, though, these close shots give you the disorienting feeling that the special could have been filmed sans audience, with laughter piped in throughout. At one point Einbinder calls out the crowd for not reacting enough to a certain line of hers in service of a bit, but her response comes across as strange because the viewer is so disconnected from the audience. Directing quibbles aside, Honig proves herself to be great behind the camera, and editor Rob Paglia deserves kudos for his exquisite editing and comedic timing. 

Einbinder’s silly self-seriousness is the glue that holds the special together. Her impressions are plentiful and hilarious, as are the facial expressions she deploys to sell a punchline. Einbinder’s physicality is also instrumental in the set’s success; she’ll coyly peek out of the curtain as the moon, hunch on the ground in menstrual rage, and shimmy around to evoke the smoothness of butter on toast. Thus, it’s no surprise when Einbinder reveals her secret past as a cheerleader, which goes on to be one of the best anecdotes of the show. Another highlight is her diatribe about the proliferation of male-only trees and the havoc they’ve wreaked on our allergies—all delivered in a manner that feels like hanging out with stoner-era Einbinder. 

Woven seamlessly into Everything Must Go are a number of bits that, like the opening noir jokes, are accentuated by lighting and music choices. A spotlight rests on Einbinder as new-age music plays in the background, transporting us to a swiftly interrupted meditation session. In the previously mentioned menstrual rage bit, she’s appropriately bathed in red light. These production-enhanced moments could become a crutch if used too often, but thankfully Einbinder is sparing enough with them that they’re more fun than gimmicky. 

The unspoken question going into this special was whether Einbinder could live up to the reputation she’s built on the celebrated comedy series Hacks. Thankfully, she does all that and more with Everything Must Go.

Everything Must Go is available now on Max.

Clare Martin is a cemetery enthusiast and Paste’s assistant comedy editor. Go harass her on Twitter @theclaremartin.

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