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Rachel McKay Steele – An Incredible Up-and-Coming Jewish Comedian

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Everything You Must Know About Rachel McKay Steele

Rachel McKay Steele is a popular LA-based comedian and writer who is proudly Jewish and showcases her love for her Jewish-American culture through her comedic performances. She studied comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in Los Angeles and clown and acting with Completely Ridiculous Productions.

Rachel is most well known among fans and everyone in the comedy circuit for her show, Shiva for Anne Frank, which premiered at the 2019 Hollywood Fringe Festival. The show was commended by Jewish-American audiences and was even loved by non-Jewish individuals interested in the religion and culture.

In addition, she has received great recognition for her comedic writing. Rachel was awarded the inaugural Jewish Writers’ Initiative Grant for her feature script for Adult Bat Mitzvah. This show was also the finalist for the 2022 Athena Film Festival’s Athena List.

Rachel McKay was also the Just for Laughs’ 2021 Stand Up and Pitch competition finalist and made her acting premiere at the 2023 festival. She loves cats and has two of her own called Roxy and Esther. Aside from that, she also enjoys eating breakfast sandwiches and has made a few jokes about it on stage. 

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Here Are Some of the Most Interesting Things about Rachel McKay Steele

1. Rachel’s comedy is greatly inspired by Anne Frank

Rachel is most widely known for her one-woman show called “Shiva for Anne Frank.” She starts the show by asking the audience, “Where do I get the chutzpah to cosplay as Anne Frank?” which is a question many people think of before watching the performance.

The performance showcases Rachel’s reverence and chutzpah for playing Anne Frank as she shares information about the famous diarist and shares her own creative journey as a Jewish woman. Rachel has told the Journal that Anne Frank is a part of her collective unconscious, and she doesn’t remember learning about her but only knowing who she was.

The stage of the show is set to represent the feeling of entering a Shivah house. A framed photo of Anne sits on a table with a stack of programs and several lavender kippot with the name of the show & its run dates on the inside.

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The show is a kind of exploration for Rachel about what it means for her to be a Jewish woman. She has included different Jewish traditions in her show, and Rachel observes what these customs mean to her as an adult.

2. Adult Bat Mitzvah was her feature script

Rachel believes that theater can be a sacred space. Her screenplay “Adult Bar Mitzvah” is one of her biggest achievements, and she has been awarded the inaugural Jewish Writers’ Initiative Grant for it. Adult Bat Mitzvah was also a finalist for the 2022 Athena Film Festival’s Athena List, which is a spectacular feat.

Her work is inspired by her Jewish upbringing, and she has toured the country performing stand-up shows and improv performances in front of live audiences. Since her art stems from a place of authenticity, her work speaks to a lot of Jewish adults who want to reconnect with their truth.

3. Rachel is a part of a comedy group

Mishegas is a part comedy group and part therapy group that usually takes place at the Silverlake Independent JCC in Los Angeles. Mishegas is an old yiddish term familiar to Jews that means crazy or senseless behavior.

The show takes place every third Thursday of the month, and visitors can enjoy an open bar and a lot of cookies at each event. The event highlights a variety of up-and-coming Jewish comedians, and many members of the audience come to see fresh comedic talent.

Rachelregularly performs at these sessions and is a beloved member of the line-up that delivers great comedy performances. The shows are held outside and are quite simple yet cozy. They are a must-visit if you are looking for a fun night with your friends or want to relax with your siblings.

4. She is really interested in sharing more about her Jewish upbringing and culture

Aside from her comedic performances on stage and her screenplays, Rachel wants to share Jewish-American culture through food. She provides members of her audience who watch her show “Shiva for Anne Frank” with Jewish snacks they can nosh on while enjoying the performance.

The entrance of the theater offers the audience rugelach, black-and-white cookies, babka, and bagels. This surprises some audience members, but most are happy to have a special experience of Jewish culture.

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Rachel shares that she serves food to ensure her invitation to a Jewish experience to her audience is authentic and complete. She believes food plays a huge role in Judaism, and she wanted to serve food even before learning in-depth about shivah customs.

Since her upbringing has been around Jewish food with her mother’s Brisket and grandmother’s rugelach, she considers it to be integral to the overall experience.

5. Rachel isn’t afraid to make jokes about the Nazis and World War II

Rachel McKay Steele was prompted to create the show “Shiva for Anne Frank” after the comedian Iliza Shlesinger gave an interview in 2017 claiming that she was the only woman who had included a joke about World War II in her set.

Since she had always felt conscious about joking about Nazis and World War II before, she consulted a friend, and they put together a show for all female performers making only World War II jokes. She learned about Anne Frank to write new material but was emotionally moved by her struggles and her life. This is what inspired her to create Shiva for Anne Frank.

6. She believes time and tragedies make for relatable comedic content

While Rachel was working on Shiva for Anne Frank, she came across various instances of open white supremacy and anti-Semitism, which included the shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue and a Chabad synagogue in San Diego county.

She claims that she had never come across a swastika in New York City until President Trump was elected into office, and she draws parallels between World War II immigration policies and the treatment of immigrants now and highlights how Otto Frank tried to leave earlier with his family, but he couldn’t.

Although Rachel’s comedic show was never meant to relate to the political situation of the US, it has become highly relevant to the current times, and the jokes seem like dark humor.

7. Her work has led her to be chosen for awards

Shiva for Anne Frank was a huge hit among audiences and critics and allowed Rachel to win the Producer’s Encore Award. The show also received rave reviews at the 2019 Hollywood Fringe Festival and was celebrated to be a one-of-a-kind show.

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Aside from that, Rachel’s fantastic screenplay, Adult Bat Mitzvah, has also led her to earn recognition for her work as well as receive the inaugural Jewish Writers’ Initiative Grant. Although Adult Bat Mitzvah was selected as a finalist, it did not win the 2022 Athena Film Festival’s Athena List.

Rachel grew secular and Reform in Charleston, South Carolina, and is also an active member of the modern IKAR congregation in Los Angeles.

8. She is also a great comedic actress

Rachel was a Just for Laughs’ 2021 Stand up and Pitch competition finalist. This shows her prowess as a stand-up comedian, but she has also made her Sundance acting premiere for the short film, Headdress in the 2023 festival.

Besides that, she often shares some of the clips of her live shows on social media and uses Instagram to connect with her audience.

Rachel McKay Steele Character Reel

This video was written and performed by Rachel McKay Steele & filmed and edited by Ethan David.

Summary

Rachel McKay Steele is an LA-based comedian and writer who moved to the city from Charleston, South Carolina. She studied clown and acting with Completely Ridiculous Productions and studied comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater.

Her show Shiva for Anne Frank premiered at the 2019 Hollywood Fringe Festival and won her the Producer’s Encore Award. Aside from that, her feature script Adult Bat Mitzvah won an inaugural Jewish Writers’ Initiative Grant and was also selected as a 2022 finalist for Athena Film Festival.

Rachel’s monthly comedy show, Mishegas, which she co-hosts and produces at the Silverlake Independent JCC, is quite the hit, and a large crowd gathers to watch the great line-up of comics who perform every third Saturday of the month.