Ester Steinberg will be performing and producing her self-taped comedy special this Saturday, March 23, 2024, at 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. at The CROW, the up-and-coming comedy venue at the Bergamot Station Arts Center in Santa Monica. Westside Voice sat down with Steinberg pre-show to find out what she finds comedic and what to expect from the filming. We also looked at what it takes to self-produce and promote a comedy special. 

Steinberg began performing stand-up comedy when she was still in high school at the encouragement of her father, a retired comedian and failed politician. Her big break was in 2017 when she was cast in the show Funny Girls, a docu-series about female comedians. While she doesn’t entirely agree with how she was depicted in the show, she acknowledges that it did capture her 24-year-old self, one filled with hope and ambition. 

“Comedy is changing now, and for better or for worse, it seems to have merged with social media, and accolades like late night sets and comedy festivals are less important,” Steinberg said. “For me, comedy is the live show. The living and breathing person on stage with a microphone – and recording it and making it available online is just the aftermath. The residual of the art.”  

Her special will mostly surround her life as a mom of two COVID babies, especially the everyday struggles of postpartum, birthing, and just surviving as a new parent. She hopes to encapsulate this brief period in her life while also bringing the special to other current and future stressed parents. 

“It’s the kind of comedy special I wish I could have watched when I was pregnant or breastfeeding,” Steinberg said. “The moms of young children do not have energy to go out to nightclubs, bars, or comedy shows. They are at home taking care of their babies or catching up on chores or sleep. So, in order for me to reach this specific audience, I need to record it and make it available online.”

Her father and his escapades are set to be featured in the special as well. She feels justified in this choice considering her dad has been throwing her under the bus for the sake of a laugh since before she was born. 

“Apparently, when my mother was pregnant with me, he ran around telling everyone, ‘I don’t care if it’s healthy as long as it’s a boy.’”

Self-producing a special comes with a lot of choices to be made. Considerations regarding venue size, audience members (such as potential hecklers), and even what kind of equipment to use are top of mind. 

Industry professionals such as John Irwin, who has worked on specials for comedians ranging from John Mulaney to David Spade, previously explained what it takes to produce a comedy special. 

In a conversation with The A.V. Club, he said the goal is trying to realize and accentuate the vision of what [the comedian] wants their show to look like. When he shoots a show, it’s about making the experience for the audience and the comic as seamless as possible. 

He explained the pros and cons of shooting in a big theater as compared to a smaller venue, like The CROW, saying ultimately it is a comedian’s personal choice. He agreed with Steinberg’s method of shooting two back-to-back sets as well. 

“One show is always going to be better than the other,” Irwin said. 

“It’s always a more pleasing edit… when it’s just one show and you’re not editing other stuff in and creating a Frankenstein,” said Scott Moran, the director of Rory Scovel’s 2017 special Rory Scovel Tries Stand-Up for the First Time, in a conversation with The Outline.

“Most of the time the second performance is the better one, for two reasons, the comic has already done the first one, gotten the nerves out, and in their mind that one is in the can and they’re done,” Irwin said. “Now they can go out there and just have fun. And generally, the later audience just has more energy. They’ve had a couple drinks. It’s always a more exciting performance.” 

The benefits of a big venue are the prestige and reach, but it’s easier to fill an intimate space with fans, followers, and supporters who are less likely to be strangers coming off the street who may interrupt intentionally (as hecklers) or unintentionally (as overly energetic, disruptive individuals). At either size, the patrons and comedian need to build off each other’s energy and ultimately get the whole crowd laughing. 

Self-promotion and marketing are a big part of specials without the backing of a major network or streamer, a fact that Steinberg has become all too familiar with. She is currently collaborating with her husband and his production company to produce the special.

“I am usually focused on the comedy and quite resistant to the marketing part of the job, but I’ve had to put on all types of hats and be my own boss,” Steinberg said. “Also, it’s really important to me that I own my own comedy special because with my previous special, I didn’t have ownership and didn’t have the freedom to post whatever I wanted on social media or upload it to YouTube.” 

Steinberg’s final pre-show thoughts included a bit of advice for aspiring comics. 

“Everyone should try stand-up at least once. Starting out is so easy, find an open mic, go on stage, and talk into a microphone,” Steinberg said. “Sticking with it for 17 years is the challenge.”

For more information and the ticket link, visit

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