We had the good fortune of connecting with Heather Pasternak and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Heather, what role has risk played in your life or career?
You won’t find me skydiving or bungee jumping but the adrenaline rush I get from taking an emotional risk is addicting. Every time I get on stage and tell a joke about something true in my life that I’m experiencing or working through, it feels risky and hopefully the reward for that risk is laughter.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I studied acting at NYU Tisch School of the Arts but struggled to get representation after graduating. It wasn’t until my dear friend (and talented artist/activist) Milana Vayntrub encouraged me to take Gerry Katzman’s stand up class that I was able to create my own work. It turned me into a writer, gave me something to invite industry to and a community of supportive people to write jokes with.
There’s an outdated stereotype that comedians have to be miserable, lone wolves. While plenty of my stand up comes out of pain/things I struggle with, overall I am a very joyful person and my hope is that through my work, the audience feels a little less alone.
After finding stand up I’ve been lucky enough to do several television appearances on Netflix, CBS, FOX, including The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. I feature for Jeff Garlin, won the Martin Stand Up Comedy Grant, write scripts and am currently getting to “pay it forward” teaching alongside Gerry Katzman at his Stand Up Comedy Class. We also lead team building corporate workshops and have helped companies like Amex, Netflix, and Cisco train and entertain their executives toward more persuasive and captivating presentations, ideation sessions, sales meetings and pitches.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m from Los Angeles so there are a many places here that are near and dear to my heart but here are just a few:
The Beverly Glen Deli is a wonderful and casual staple, known mainly to locals, where you may even get a celebrity sighting. In the same complex is an amazing spot for live Jazz, Vibrado. It’s a little pricey but saddling up to the bar for a cocktail is a great way to dip in and out and get your Jazz fix.
It wouldn’t be a trip to Los Angeles without a night time car ride along Mulholland Drive and a day trip to the beach. Stop at Malibu Seafood if you know what’s good.
A hike is a must, I’m currently coveting trails at Elysian Fields but if you want to check off some of those tourist boxes, hike up to the Hollywood sign and cruise down Rodeo Drive. While you may not want to go on a shopping splurge there is a little bakery in a hidden shopping complex worth checking out, La Patisserie Artistique.
As far as comedy goes, Dynasty Typewriter is a newer, fantastic venue where you can see seasoned veterans and up-and-comers.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Gerry Katzman and his entire community of alumni.
Jeff Garlin, another mentor of mine who has given me endless support and stage time.
Steve Hofstettor, another mentor who awarded me the Martin Grant and continues to provide tons of advice and stage time.
Milana Vayntrub, a dear friend, talented artist and one of the endlessly supportive women in my life.
Jessica Pilot, booker for the Colbert Show and all around badass, another supportive and inspiring lady I’m lucky to call a friend.
Jerad Sloan, Tyler Ross