Super Jewess: Comedian Ester Steinberg
Someone with the name Ester Steinberg may sound like she lives in a nursing home in South Florida. And the comedian, who is merely a millennial, does not shy away from that fact.
In a Gotham comedy set, she proudly proclaims, “My name is Ester Steinberg. It is Jewish! My name is from the Holocaust. It was on Schindler’s list twice.”
Steinberg is not only Jewy because of her name. Much of the content she puts out and standup she does is focused on her Jewish identity.
One of her videos, “7 Women You Meet on JDate,” perfectly captures the stereotypical women on the dating site: The Persians, the Israelis, the hippies, that Jewess you may have met on Birthright.
A Laugh Factory set from 2013 is all about Steinberg’s horror stories about dating Jewish men: “I did date a Jewish guy that was very, very fat. I miss him so much because we had the most amazing snacks.”
Steinberg is not afraid to poke fun at her fellow millennials either. In one video she wrote with her friend and writing partner Eric Williams called, “Caption It,” a group of millennials are trying to come up with the perfect Instagram caption for a photo.
“Caption It” is one of the many videos she has made with Williams. Together, they form their comedy group, called Esoteric (a combination of both of their names).
“Our videos are a little outside the box and making fun of our generation and our obsession with being trendy and cool,” said Steinberg. “It’s very self aware and making fun of this idea of our internet persona and the need to get likes and have a perfect comment or caption.”
The Tampa, Florida native splits her time between Los Angeles and New York. She started out in LA, where she made an appearance on “The Millionaire Matchmaker” and hosted a monthly standup show at the Canter’s Kibitz Room on Fairfax Avenue. She also had a lead role in “Funny Girls,” a show about female comedians in LA that aired for one season on Oxygen.
When Steinberg isn’t on the comedy grind in LA and NY, she also tours around the world, for fun and for work. Recently, she spent time in Morocco and Paris, where she performed on a show called “New York Comedy Night.” “The comedy scene is amazing in Paris,” she said. “There are two comedy scenes happening. One is French and one is English speaking. You end up getting people in Paris that speak English and sometimes there are people from Turkey, Canada, and Australia.”
While in Paris, she did face anti-Semitism, however. “I was kind of taken aback,” Steinberg said. “This guy who was really nice was doing anti-Semitic jokes that were getting huge laughs. It was dumb jokes you may hear in high school, like ‘There’s a sign that says ‘No dogs and no Jews.’ It was some joke about how Jews are dogs. I was like, ‘Whoa.’ I had never heard anti-Semitic jokes other than the ones that Jewish people tell.”
Steinberg didn’t hesitate to call out the comedian. Afterwards, she told him she was surprised that those Jewish jokes were killing. “He was very defensive,” she said. “He seemed to be very affected by me very carefully calling him out. I don’t believe I’m in the position to tell people what they can and can’t make jokes about but I did feel the need to say something.”
When Steinberg got up on stage, she made sure to reveal her Jewish identity. “I did some very funny Jewish jokes, because in a weird way, I felt like I needed to get in my culture. I never have those feelings in LA or NY. I defended my culture. It’s interesting how much pride we have when we are face to face with someone making fun of Jews.”
Steinberg also has pride in her hometown of Tampa. She talks about it in her act, and she went back there last fall to see a Matisyahu concert. She even tweeted at the singer while wearing her favorite Matisyahu shirt. “I am obsessed with him,” said Steinberg. “He killed it. He was so incredible. His new album is amazing and I’m in love with him.”
Along with touring, Steinberg is hoping to develop a show with Williams about none other than Tampa. “I have this idea where we are tour guides in Tampa,” she said. “I always want to do a TV show in Tampa. It has so much comedy gold. It’s really trashy and at the same time, it’s old people and vacation and fireworks and guns. We had the first Hooters. It’s a great place to be a strong female. I think it’s a funny idea.”