Q&A: Twin comedians Annabel and Sabina Meschke on NYU and the future of alt-comedy

I watched NYU alumni Annabel and Sabina Meschke on stage and in conversation, and you have to, too.

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Alex Shapiro

The Meschke Twins performed on stage on Sep. 30. (Alex Shapiro for WSN)

Alexandra Cohen, Opinion Editor

I first saw comedians Annabel and Sabina Meschke at Catherine Cohen’s weekly Cabernet Cabaret at Club Cumming. While many of the comedians Cohen has on her shows are young, none of them are quite as youthful and successful as the Meschke twins. 

About a week later, as I was crossing the street, I spotted one of the twins. Since they’re identical, I didn’t know who was which at the time, but nonetheless, I was starstruck on Jane Street. The next day, they reached the highest honor in comedy — they were interviewed on the podcast, Seek Treatment with Cat & Pat. 

I have a bit of Violet pride, especially when it comes to comedy, so I bought tickets to the “Triplet Auditions,” their monthly show at Union Hall in Brooklyn, right after the podcast. I then bought tickets to the next “Triplet Auditions” and the show after that. The pair is absolutely hilarious in their hosting, and they have the charm and circle to recruit some of the best comedians in New York — and sometimes even their Los Angeles-based friends like NYU alumna Sandy Honig. 

The Sep. 30 show that I attended had one of the most iconic and hilarious lineups I have ever seen in the alt-comedy world: Jake Cornell, Mariah Oxley, Asha Ward, Pat Regan and Napoleon Emill. Though each comedian had a different style and energy, they all kept me laughing from start to finish. 

The Meshke twins presented their own jokes between comics. They joked about their Florida education, being identical twins and their experiences at NYU. It wasn’t one of those comedy shows where you’re waiting for the host to get off stage so you can see the next act — you wanted them to stay on stage forever and craved to see who they were going to introduce next. 

After the show, they invite the crowd to hang out with them in the side yard to chat. They truly represent a new era of comedy — one of inclusivity and community, not offensive jokes and competitiveness. 

The twins aren’t just funny on stage; I was lucky enough to sit down with the twins at Win Son Bakery over coffee in Brooklyn. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

WSN: What did you study at NYU? 

Sabina Meschke: I was in CAS for the first two years. I was an English major because we went to middle school and high school in Florida at an art school that had magnet schools with majors. So we were theater majors already for seven years — which should be illegal to make a child do that. 

When we got to college, we were like no more, and I did two years of English which was chill, but I was like “How many times do I gotta read ‘Heart of Darkness?’” Then I switched to Tisch for dramatic writing. I did also try to transfer to Gallatin because all my friends were doing it — that’s where all the cool kids are going — but the major I described was literally dramatic writing. 

Annabel Meschke: Same situation coming from art school and being faux jaded because it still is my dream, but I’m performatively giving up for a minute. I had no clue what I wanted to do, so it was undecided major vibes at CAS. 

WSN: When did you become involved with comedy? Before or after your time at NYU? 

Sabina Meschke: I hate to say it, but long before because our mom criminally put us in improv classes when we were 8 or 9 years old. Then we went to improv camp for mad long, taught at that camp, and went to the second city summer program for high school during the last two years of high school. Then the first couple years of college, we were like nevermind, and then on a whim, I auditioned for Hammerkatz and so did Annabel. But they were like we don’t want to have so many people in the same graduating class.

Annabel Meschke: So I didn’t make it on. 

Sabina Meschke: That was their reasoning for her not getting on. 

Annabel Meschke: Their alleged reasoning. I’m friends with all of the people now, if me then could see me now…honey, honey, honey. 

Sabina Meschke: You basically were. We can rewrite history and say you were on Hammerkatz. 

Annabel Meschke: I will say that and who is anyone now to say that I wasn’t. 

Sabina Meschke: No one will deny it. 

WSN: You’re still doing comedy and I’ve been to a million of your shows, but what do you want to be doing? 

Sabina Meschke: I love our monthly show because we just get to book such fun people, and every time we get to book people, I look at the poster and I’m like “If I saw this poster, I’d be like no chance I’m missing this show, this show rocks”. And that is such a fun thing to feel about my own show. Both Annabel and I have so much fun when we’re performing things that we write together. We’re working on a pilot right now. 

Annabel Meschke: But also we shot and co-wrote a short film with fellow NYU alum Sandy Honig from “Three Busy Debras.”

Sabina Meschke: When we shot our first sketch right after college with Rachel Sennot, she showed us “Three Busy Debras,” and she was like “This is the pinnacle of female sketch right now.” 

Annabel Meschke: Fast forward, we all did this short film, and all three Debras were involved. And the film is called “Pennies from Heaven,” and I’m not sure how it’s going to be available to the public or when, but we’re submitting it to festivals and stuff. 

Sabina Meschke: As much as I hate to say it and it’s so funny, especially in the Brooklyn alt-comedy scene, people are like “Oh you went to NYU, you and everybody else” and that’s funny and silly and I get it, but I learned so much about how to structure this art that we’re doing now and get to implement these things in our practice now. 

Annabel Meschke: And to see our friends from college succeeding in such crazy ways and being able to say “Yeah, we were friends in college.” 

WSN: I don’t know if this was true for you, but right now, every boy at NYU wants to be Larry David. Of course that’s not the kind of comedy that you’re doing. What do you say for the future of alt-comedy for you two and overall? 

Annabel Meschke:  While we were in college, a lot of people were still of the mindset that comedy had to be hard and miserable, and you have to be breaking your back every single day to do it. But what has to be hard is you working. When I started stand up there was a mic called Ladies who Ranch, and it was a group of just girls, a very overwhelmingly women and queer space. 

Sabina Meschke: And they were just nice and it was so great. We found that and we were latching on, and the Brooklyn alt-comedy scene has just held us so nicely. 

Annabel Meschke: A lot of people still have that mindset that it has to be hard.

Sabina Meschke: The hustle, club comedy, Manhattan mindset.

Annabel Meschke: They think it’s cool to be like “I hate comedy,” and you don’t hate comedy ‘cause then you wouldn’t be doing it. You hate certain things about it. But I also think that there’s a growing passion for each other and whenever people ask me about all my favorite comedians…

Sabina Meschke: All my friends!

Annabel Meschke: I’m so in that scene that I can’t think of any comedians that I’m passionate about that aren’t people that I know and that in and of itself is such a little success. 

WSN: What advice would you give to NYU students who are reading this who want to get into comedy? 

Sabina Meschke: This is the most cliche advice and I hate that it’s true — you just gotta make your own stuff and keep doing it. If your parents aren’t Mr. and Mrs. Comedy and you’re a regular girl, you just gotta make your own stuff, be a little sweetie pie, be nice and make friends. It’s so much easier to be nice than it is to be scared of people and not want to talk to them. 

Annabel Meschke: It’s intimidating, but just showing up is 99% of getting started. Before I started stand-up, we were going to as many shows as we possibly could. It’s not even about being seen there — it’s about hanging out and getting to know what it’s about. It also helps to get the flame under your ass and see what it’s like if you happen to see someone who bombs. Going to every show is an educational experience. 

This month, the Meschke twins are hosting a Triplet Auditions at Brooklyn Comedy Collective on Oct. 22, and a special show on Halloween at Union Hall.

Contact Alexandra Cohen at [email protected]