Catch a New Rising Star


Comedian Alana Eisner explains the joy of making a crowd laugh, the anxiety of pissing them off, and what not to do if you’re heckled.

Sure, many of us who make our friends laugh regularly fantasize about "killing it" on stage and leaving an audience in utter hysteria. But it’s a whole other thing to really do it—to stand before a room full of strangers with nothing but a microphone and hope they share your comic sensibilities. If not, it’s going to be a looooong night. Boston stand-up comic Alana Eisner shared with us what it’s really like up on that stage.

How old are you now, and when did you first start doing stand-up?

I’m 25. I started doing stand-up about three years ago.

What is it that most appeals to you about it?

There are a lot of aspects about stand-up that appeal to me&#8212the obvious one being that I enjoy making people laugh. Stand-up is a creative outlet and something I feel passionate about.

What was your best stand-up experience?

The best experience would be the first time I killed. It was at an open mic at a club, when I was living in Albany. There weren’t many opportunities to perform there, so I didn’t perform nearly as much as I do here in Boston. Because the comics were really mixed (some good, some bad), you had to work to win the crowd over, and it was such a great feeling when I did.

What was your single worst experience?

The worst experience would probably be a mixed open mic (music and comedy) I used to do back in Albany. It was usually a decent mic, but one night I was heckled before I even opened my mouth. The guy was really drunk and rude and, for some reason, I really let it get to me. I ended up yelling back at him. I wasn’t very professional or witty about it and came off more as a hormonal, angry girl.

How do you psych yourself up before you go on stage?

Usually before a show I’m just going over my material and getting a feel of the crowd. I try to catch as much as I can of the comedian/comedians before me. It also depends where I’m performing and how long of a set I’m doing.

Do you like writing and telling Jewish jokes specifically, and why?

I do have some Jewish jokes. I have a joke about how my parents always nag me to marry a nice Jewish boy, and I tell them that if they really wanted a Jewish son-in-law, they should have adopted an Asian girl. I think it’s natural to write jokes about one’s culture because you are making fun of something you’re part of. It’s another form of self deprecation.

What responses do you get from audiences when you do Jewish jokes?

Like any joke, if it’s good, it gets laughs and if it’s not, it doesn’t get much of a response. When I’m writing a Jewish joke, I try to make sure it’s a joke that someone without a lot of knowledge of Judaism would understand, so I follow many of the common stereotypes, like the joke above; it’s common for Jews to adopt Asian girls, and Jewish guys often have a thing for Asian girls. That joke sometimes takes a few seconds to get a reaction, but eventually they get it.

What Jewish women comedians do you admire?

I like Chelsea Handler. My friend Jenny Z, also from the Boston area, is very funny and I enjoy working with her.

What is your ultimate dream goal for yourself in comedy? How will you know you’ve “made it”?

My first goal is to have an act that is uniquely funny, that I can be proud of. Ultimately, I’d like to have some commercial success and maybe work with Zach Galifanakis.

About the Author

Alana Eisner
Alana began performing stand-up in Albany, New York, while a college student. She performed at local colleges, clubs, and even karaoke parties. In 2008, she moved to Boston to pursue her goal of stand-up comedy. She performs regularly at the Comedy Studio in Cambridge, as well as at other clubs and colleges.

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