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Investing in Arts Education

From the Court to the Stage: Hannah Berner’s Comedy Journey

Hannah Berner, Photos by Brendan Wixted

Hannah Berner has jokes, impeccable timing, and a huge social media following — and she’s just getting started.

Hannah Berner is having a moment. With a resume more varied than most — including stints as a professional tennis player, a saleswoman, and part of Bravo TV’s Summer House series, the Brooklyn native is on the road to pursue her true love — standup comedy.

“Looking back, I realize that laughter was the one consistent thing I’ve had throughout life,” she says. “No matter what the world threw at me, I could always make a joke.”

Trial and error

“I never wanted to be a standup comedian when I was younger,” Berner says. “I fell into it through trial and error with other careers, but nothing has felt more fun for me than comedy.”

Berner attributes some of her comedic instincts to her upbringing.

“I grew up in a very funny family,” she notes, “and I’ve always been attracted to funny people. I love writing, performing, and making people laugh so it was a natural fit.”

But Berner also stresses the need for arts funding and the programs it makes possible.

“Doing drama class in middle school gave me the confidence to be silly, speak publicly, and pursue a career in performance arts,” she explains. “Everyone’s brain works differently, and some people thrive with numbers while other people thrive with creativity.”

In fact, investing in the arts is crucial to the future success of young people no matter their ultimate careers. Studies have shown that experience in the arts boosts cognitive ability, social skills, and performance across a wide range of activities while also encouraging more compassion and better behavior overall. The bottom line: Investing in the arts has a long list of benefits for both the individuals who benefit and society as a whole.

Comedy as art

The creativity fostered by her experience in school has led to what’s already an enviable career. After playing tennis both professionally and as a college athlete at the University of Wisconsin, Berner at one point thought she would make tennis her life. After being injured in a car accident, however, she reassessed her ambitions.

Out of college, she began producing her own comedy videos on Instagram. That led to her joining Bravo TV’s Summer House, a 2019 series about friends who share a summer house in the Hamptons, which in turn led to a co-hosting gig on Bravo’s Chat Room. She was part of the show for three seasons before making the decision to leave and pursue other career opportunities.

Since those opportunities, which include two enormously popular podcasts with more than 20 million downloads, Berning in Hell and Giggly Squad, it’s safe to say Berner is well on her way to dominating the comedy scene. But Berner notes that standup comedy, like many careers in the arts, doesn’t have a simple trajectory like becoming a teacher or a lawyer.

“There are no rules,” she says, “except to become successful you have to write as many jokes as you can and try them out on stage. Finding your comedic voice is hard because no one can help you with it. It is a very creative entrepreneurial experience.”

After getting married to fellow comedian Des Bishop earlier this year, Berner’s not about sitting around waiting for things to happen.

“I’m focusing on my two podcasts while also traveling the country for my standup tour,” she says. “I’m working on some creative projects and also started doing some acting auditions.”

In the meantime, Berner is leaning into her artistic side and the lack of rules. “I love creating and making people laugh, so I’m seeing where that takes me!”

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