Drive-in movie theaters largely went extinct in the age of the multiplex, but they’re having a renaissance during pandemic times. Tribeca Drive-in is bringing quarantined movie lovers the big-screen experience at Pasadena this summer, showing classic and iconic movies at the Rose Bowl on Thursdays-Sundays through Aug. 2. With a lineup of more than 30 films plus sneak peeks, celebrity intros and live standup comedy, it’s a safe and socially-distanced evening out.
So far, “The Wizard of Oz,” “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” and “Jaws,” were featured at the summer Drive-In experience. “Spy Kids,” “The Dark Knight,” “Mean Girls” “Wonder Woman,” “The Goonies” and “Do The Right Thing” are also slated for July.
Standup comedian Ester Steinberg is on the bill July 10, and she’s thrilled about playing the iconic stadium, even if she’ll face a few hundred cars instead of faces. “I told my mom that I would be rehearsing in parking lots,” she quipped, confiding that she has never been to a drive-in. She’s excited to be performing anywhere, since the coronavirus outbreak put the kibosh on the tour of Jewish Community Centers that she’d been on and the Monday night shows at Canter’s Kibitz Room that she’s run since 2013.
Her act, which she has been preparing for with shows for friends on Zoom, is flavored with Jewish jokes and will touch on COVID-19 and her pregnancy. Steinberg gave birth to her son Moses on May 29 after a 38-hour labor that concluded with a C-section. “He was 9 lbs. 8 oz. I felt like a Chihuahua pregnant with a pit bull.”
Originally from Tampa, Fla., Steinberg grew up one of three sisters, the clown of the family who loved doing theater and worshipped Sarah Silverman. Her father briefly owned a comedy club and encouraged her to try standup as a way to get into movies and television. By 17, she was performing comedy in clubs. “I was fearless,” she recalled. Her Jewish childhood included Day School, summer camp, Shabbat services, a bat mitzvah and an Orthodox-run trip to Israel during college. But she was a distinct minority in high school. “I was always explaining to people what matzoh was,” she said. She has become “more Jewish,” she added, since getting married and having her son.
Steinberg’s husband is Noah Gardenswartz, a comedian and writer for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” They met at Canter’s and began dating after they were guests on a podcast in New York a year later. They now live in Brooklyn, where much of “Maisel” is shot. Her trip west for the Rose Bowl show aside, their plans to live in Los Angeles half the year are on Covid-induced hold.
Steinberg, who had a small guest role on the Season 2 Catskills episode of “Maisel” as an aspiring comedian, looks forward to the day when she can return to the real-world comedy stage. She’s using the time at home to develop and write a show with Gardenswartz about new parents, based on their experience. For now, her 2018 comedy album “Hebrew School Dropout” is available via iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon.
The full schedule of Tribeca Drive-in events is available here.