Life as a headliner: Jean Smart delves into the world of standup with ‘Hacks’

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Is she channeling Joan Rivers?

No, Smart says. “I’m certainly a fan of a lot of female comics. Every once in a while, there will be a scene or I’ll do something and I’ll think, ‘Oh, that kind of reminds me of so-and-so.’ I guess I borrow things from other comedians unconsciously – anywhere from Elayne Boosler or Phyllis Diller to Sam Kinison. I kind of go with my gut instinct and the writing is so good that that usually works out.”

Einbinder’s character, Ava, is a Hollywood writer who’s shunned by others following a pointed social media post. She can’t get work, so she agrees to meet with Vance, who needs a fresher approach to situations. Vance, however, doesn’t want a “helper.” The two don’t mesh and, soon, it looks like any deal is off.

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Circumstances, however, force Vance to take a second look. She hires Ava and assigns her to digitize a lifetime of work.

Although Vance is entering the waning days of her career, the Emmy-winning Smart has never been more popular. Last year, she got an Emmy nomination for “Watchmen.” This year, she’s also in “Mare of Easttown.”

“I’ve had some of the most incredible opportunities in my career in the last several years and I don’t take any of it for granted,” she says. “But at the same time, I wouldn’t encourage my daughter to be an actress. If you have kids, there’s always the feeling that you’re shortchanging either your job or your family. That’s the hardest part to me – feeling like you’re not giving your all to one or the other.

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