Jean Smart Performed a ‘Hacks’ Episode Live—It Was Brilliant

Look, the last few years have been…challenging to say VERY VERY. But, if there’s one thing I’m incredibly grateful for during this difficult time, it’s the revival of the only thing: Smart Jean.

Technically, her renaissance began with HBO’s 2019 Limited Series The guard, which premiered just before it actually debuted to fans, in terms of “everything in the world”. But, to say Billy Joel, “it’s always been on fire, since the world was turning.” So I’m including it. Also, if you haven’t seen Smart completely steals the show as Kate Winslet’s overbearing and overly critical mother in By HBO Mare of Easttownget on it as well.

All of this is my long-winded way of saying it’s so relevant that the first in-person industry event I’ve decided to attend since the COVID-19 pandemic began is the Foreclosure event. your (FYC, for people in the world) table directly read Season 2 finale of Hacksstarring — you guessed it — Jean Smart.

For anyone unfamiliar with Hacksit’s a great HBO Max comedy starring Smart (duh) as Deborah Vance, a legendary comedian trying to maintain his comedy career in a changing industry. quickly seemed to have left her behind.

In Season 1, Vance reluctantly teamed up with famed comedy writer Ava (Hannah Einbinder) to perfect her work — and possibly save Ava’s career, too, after a minor controversy caused it to be scrapped. stagnant. The second season, which premieres in May 2022, finds an unlikely but lovable duo on the road as they try to research new material based on Vance’s life for a new comedy show.

Yes, I’m still terrified of contracting COVID and the thought of driving into Hollywood is always terrifying, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see Smart act as Deborah Vance. And, oh boy, it’s better than I ever thought it would be.

When I walked into Avalon Hollywood – the trendy club where the reading would take place – I immediately knew I had made the right choice. The venue has been converted into a comedy club hotspot, complete with the hilarious “Last Chance to See Deborah Vance” sign and a giant Hacks coercion. Needless to say, here are the spots to get Instagram-worthy shots.

David Jon / Courtesy of HBO Max and Universal Television

A little further beyond these photos is the main event, a giant screen with the title of the HBO comedy Max hovering over a U-shaped table where the cast of Hacks will soon read the end of Season 2 “The One, The Only.”

All the chatter in the audience turned to thunderous applause as the cast stepped out to their seats. The phone was immediately launched to try and snap the perfect photo of Smart beaming behind her name tag. And Smart was nothing but smiles and cheers, especially when they announced Einbinder’s name and her Emmy-nominated status. Einbinder playfully hid under the table as Smart led the crowd in cheers for her lady. Einbinder reciprocated the favor soon after and opened the door for Smart when she was announced.

Then the magic started to happen.

Listen, I loved the last part of Season 2 of Hacks. I’ve rewatched it a few times, some in preparation for this piece, but mostly because it’s just a great episode. But, seeing it performed live and watching Smart read those razor-sharp lines in flesh—well, that changed a life. Seeing her transform into Deborah Vance, even if it’s only for an hour, got me excited.

The episode, and the reading table, opens with a heated bidding war between Vance and CEO Palmetto and former flame Marty (a great Christopher McDonald). Watching two Hollywood legends joke and insult each other hilariously while pretending to outbid each other in an auction is an experience I won’t forget.

David JonCourtesy of HBO Max and Universal Television

Around midway through the episode, Vance took the stage to shoot her heartbreaking comedy special in front of a live audience at the Palmetto in Las Vegas. When this moment came while reading the board, Smart took the microphone from the stand on the table and held it in her hand as if she would if she were Vance on stage. Then she looked up, smiled, and started working on her routine. Smart’s voice breaks at the personal admissions of her cast and then out of nowhere, she drops the story and the room fills with laughter. It is surreal.

Then there’s the scene from the episode I’ve been waiting for all night: when Vance releases Ava (essentially falling in love with her) after they both find huge success with their specially taped comedy. separate. It was the beautiful moment when Vance realized she couldn’t hold Ava anymore and needed to let her flourish in her new career and success.

It’s a completely heartbreaking scene on the show, and it’s no different when reading the board. The chemistry between Einbinder (who is also a phenomenon in the series) and Smart was so intense that the entire audience fell silent as they watched the two stars say their lines with such hearts and because it was Hacks after all, funny.

As the episode and thus the table being read nears its end, Supertramp’s “Goodbye Stranger” — the same song used at the end of the finale — sublimes in the background as Smart delivers her final lines. as Vance. And then, like in the episode, she winks. The crowd and cast burst into applause, while Einbinder and Smart shared a sweet moment on stage.

And just when you think she’s done, Smart looks out at all of us and makes a joke. “Do you guys have to pay a premium to get in here?” she said with a laugh.

What a Deborah Vance.

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