Hannah Berner, Comedian + Podcast Host


“I grew up in Brooklyn, and when I was six years old I decided I was going to be a professional tennis player. A year after that, I decided I wanted to be a Grand Slam champion—I was probably inspired by watching Serena Williams on TV. I ended up getting a full ride scholarship to play tennis for the University of Wisconsin—go Badgers. But at the end of college, I realized I had a creative side. And also, I wanted to go back to New York.

Of course I needed to make money, so I started in sales. I actually did very well, but it wasn’t fun or creative—it was just another area for me to be a competitive psycho, which I’ve always been. I went into marketing after that thinking I’d be coming up with these crazy ideas, but it was so boring, so I quit that too.

I did some sports broadcasting in college and I missed video, so I became the video producer for a millennial humor media company. I wasn’t getting paid a lot, but I had at least found something that brought me joy. I hate to be that girl that tells everyone to leave their boyfriend and quit their job all the time, but life is so short and there are no rules. With that job, I ended up working with a lot of comedians, which made me realize they were my kind of people. I wasn’t thinking about doing standup at that point, but comedians are just such a breath of fresh air—very self-aware and self-deprecating, but also driven. I finally felt like I had found my community.

Then my name was thrown in for Bravo’s Summer House. I remember being in the kitchen with my mom asking if it was crazy to do reality TV. She was like, ‘It could go really badly, but why not?’ I ended up loving the production aspect. The actual drama and fighting was very not who I was, but I was always best friends with all of the people behind the scenes. I lasted three years on the show and went away feeling like I was able to get an audience and could parlay it into what I’m actually good at. So I started my podcast Berning in Hell, which I've recently rebranded to Berner Phone with my husband, Des Bishop.

In 2019, while I was still doing reality TV, Carolines on Broadway asked if I wanted to do a live podcast. I had a lot of friends in standup and had written a lot of tweets and sketches—but always through the voice of a brand, not mine. I agreed to do it, and so the first time I did standup, I was in front of 300 people. I took all the tweets I’d been posting about relationships, insecurities, and horoscopes for years, and put them together. In the sports world, I always felt like I was fighting an uphill battle and I dealt with a lot of performance anxiety, so when I felt incredible and calm on stage—and the content resonated with people—a light bulb went off in my head. I thought, ‘This is what I was meant to do.’ Now I'm touring around the country doing standup. And I feel like I’ve cultivated this amazing community both through my podcasts—I also do Giggly Squad with my best friend and Summer House castmate Paige DeSorbo—and TikTok, which has become my stage in a way, too.

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We had to do our own makeup for Summer House, and seeing what Paige did took me to the next level. I kept asking all of these questions: ‘Why do you have so many products? What are you putting on your hair? How do you do this thing?’ It was a glow up moment for me. Since then, I feel like TikTok has changed my life. I'm a visual person. If I read an article about beauty, I can’t process it. But if I watch it on TikTok, I'm down.

I try to be a real minimalist with my skincare, partially because I get overwhelmed by it but also because I don’t want to be doing a 10-step routine at 1AM after two shows. In the morning, I just splash my face with water, and if I’m honest, I probably take off a little bit of leftover makeup that I couldn’t get off the night before.

I'm really obsessed with the Caudalie Vinoperfect Dark Spot Serum because it smells like a plant, so it makes me feel like I’m putting the earth on my skin. For my eyes, I like the Ole Henriksen Banana Bright+ Eye Crème. It smells really good, and I love the texture. For the rest of my face, I’ve been using Drunk Elephant’s Protini Polypeptide Cream during the day. It feels really cooling.

I was at a spa in Phoenix recently—the Tierra Luna Spa at the Arizona Biltmore—and someone there recommended the COOLA SPF 30 Sun Silk Drops. I usually hate the feeling of having sunscreen on my face—it makes me feel sticky and disgusting—but this one and the Supergoop! Glow Screen SPF 40 are great.

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Recently I’ve been getting my makeup done, and one makeup artist put 111Skin Molecular Hydration Eye Masks on me and I became obsessed. I become sassy when I have them on, like, ‘I’m busy. I’m running shit. I have a big day ahead of me.’ [Laughs] It’s literally a shift in perspective versus me just feeling like a wet rat running around the city. And also, I really do feel like I look more awake when I use them. I have naturally sunken eyes, so it's really easy for me to look like I'm tired. OSEA Malibu’s Ocean Eyes Serum is really great, too—and it has a roller ball applicator. It smells like you’re at an Arizona Spa—clearly, I love Arizona.

If my lips are not hydrated, then I cannot talk crap all day—and all I do is talk. I’m always going to use Aquaphor. I love Rhode’s Peptide Lip Treatment, and I’m glad they came out with tinted versions because I really do feel like a tint makes me that girl. Someone online made fun of me and said that I have really clear lips. Just a little thing that I would never know to be insecure about, so thank you, internet. I tend to gravitate towards brownie nudes.

At night, because I have a lot of makeup on, I will use a Neutrogena Cleansing Wipe. I know I'm supposed to use the Elemis Cleansing Balm—that’s what Paige told me—but I haven't gotten it yet. Honestly, I’ll even use a random wipe at night from the hotel; I just need to get the makeup off my face. Sometimes I’m bad on the road because I won’t bring a cleanser, but if I do a second wash, I like Drunk Elephant’s Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser. Thrive Causemetics has a really good Hydrating Gel Cleanser, too.

iS Clinical has a Hydra-Intensive Cooling Masque that I really, really love. Sometimes I’ll use that instead of my Drunk Elephant moisturizer because it makes my skin feel cool to the touch. Ultimately, I want to hydrate the hell out of it and just get to bed.

I do have to say I don't drink on the road; I actually don't drink that much in general. I mean, I’m not sober and I do have a celebratory drink every now and then, but I just want to let people know that life on the road is not a rockstar lifestyle. This is a sport to me. I perform, I get home, and I get to bed. I actually overheard some makeup artists chatting and they were saying that Hollywood doesn’t drink and no one talks about it because all of these celebrities have brand deals. It’s all pretend. So, I don’t really drink; I don’t smoke weed; I don’t vape. I’m just very dehydrated. That’s my biggest problem.

I see makeup as a way to enhance how I naturally look. I have this theory that if you're always putting on a full beat, you start to recognize yourself as that girl with a full beat. And listen, every now and again, I’m guilty of taking off my makeup and being like, ‘Wow, I look better with makeup,’ but I think if you look at yourself without makeup a lot, you really do fall in love with who that person is. Then when you put on more, it’s just different and fun.

That said, I am actually really confident in how I do my makeup every night. I love the process of it. I typically have shows starting at 7PM, which means I'll nap until 5. I have an angry woman playlist that I made on Spotify—Shania Twain, Gwen Stefani, and Cardi B are on it—that I play to get ready. When I put it on, it’s game time.

I’m new to putting serums and creams under my makeup. I thought that was too much before, but now I think it doesn’t hurt to try. I put some hyaluronic acid from The Ordinary on for hydration, and my Protini Moisturizer on top because it’s light. Then it’s time for Essence Redness Reducer Primer before going in with the IT Cosmetics CC+ Cream Color Correcting Full Coverage Cream in Medium. People don’t talk about it enough, but they should. It has SPF, and I love a two-in-one product. I just ran out of my Kosas Revealer Brightening Concealer—I use shade 2.5 C—but I like it for my undereyes. I’m getting more.

I love Charlotte Tilbury’s Airbrush Flawless Finish Setting Powder. I use 2 Medium. Then I throw on bronzer. The Benefit Cosmetics Hoola Bronzer is the OG. I’ve tried others, but they don’t compare.

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I do think highlighters are kind of a conspiracy theory, as in I've had some cheap ones that are so good and some expensive ones that don’t work as well. Recently, I’ve been using the Hikari Cosmetics Highlighter Palette in Radiate, but I don’t really care which one I use honestly—I grab whatever comes to me at the time. I don’t put on a lot of it though because I know that I’m naturally going to be sweaty on stage. I’m more of a matte girl in that way. And I’m newly very into blush. I love the Valentino Eye2Cheek Eyeshadow and Blush in Very Rose. She’s popping. She’s fancy.

I'm currently obsessed with Natasha Denona. She has a Mini Pastel Eyeshadow Palette that's really easy to travel with. It has this really sparkly shade called Aurora that goes with everything, so whatever outfit I decide to wear at the last minute, I know the shadow will still look good with it. And Il Makiage has a really good liquid eyeliner. I actually love doing my eyeliner; I take pride in it. I always do a cat eye. Do I have my off days? Yes. But I'm pretty good, and once I put it on, I feel great.

I have naturally long eyebrows, so I normally don’t put anything on them or it’s a little too intense. Sometimes I might take a little bit of the NYX Control Freak Eyebrow Gel and brush them up, but that’s it. And as for mascaras, I’ve tried a lot of different ones, and L'Oréal’s Telescopic Mascara is the best.

I do like the natural shape of my lips, but when I overline them just a bit with the Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk lip liner, I feel like Angelina Jolie. If I’m performing, I’ll put Fenty’s Gloss Bomb in Fenty Glow over it. That’s my combo. Oh, and MAC’s matte lipstick in Mehr? It’s game over. One thing I learned from my nana is to mix lip colors, so I might add that in there if I want something a little brighter. Be a woman in STEM, you know? [Laughs] If I’m going outside and don’t want to do all of this stuff, I just put a rosy lip color on. ILIA’s Balmy Tint in Runaway is the best.

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I wash my hair every day—I went on TikTok and was told that if I don’t wash my hair for eight days my life will be solved. [Laughs] But if I do that, my hair will be so greasy.

Goop sent me this crazy Himalayan Salt Scalp Scrub Shampoo. It’s exfoliating, and it smells like it comes from the earth—and you know I love that shit. It was a religious experience when I put it on for the first time. Outside of that, I've been spoiling myself recently by venturing into the Kérastase world. I'm trying to be fancy because I've literally never cared about my hair. It's a new thing I'm trying to do. Their Bain Fluidealiste Shampoo is my current go-to.

I really thought that a hair mask could change my life, and JVN’s Nurture Intense Hydration Mask is great. I like to use it when I do my girl showers, which Paige got me into. I've always been in a rush, but now I see girl showers as a form of self-care. I shampoo, throw my hair mask on, and shave while it soaks in. It’s incredible.

I get my hair cut at IGK Salon. Melissa Parizot is amazing. I also get my hair colored there by Stephanie Brown, who does Kate McKinnon’s hair, too. When I heard that, I was like, ‘You’re hired.’ If I’m being honest, I'm not prioritizing haircare as much as I should. I only go once a year because I’m always running around, so I like a natural balayage and highlights so it can grow out without looking like it's growing out.”

— As told to Daise Bedolla

Photographed by Alexandra Genova in New York on September 26, 2023