Stop The Small Talk
Hannah Berner

Hannah Berner Loves An Awkward First Date Question

“F*ck normal dating questions and hearing about their hobbies.”

Lais Borges/Elite Daily; Photo by Brendan Wixted

“Do you do the ABCs when you go down on women?” is not most people’s version of an icebreaker, but Hannah Berner thinks it should be. Berner, 32, has become one of TikTok’s favorite comedians, famous for her “Han on the Street” videos where she asks fellow comedians questions about sex, dating, and the opposite gender.

“There are no boundaries,” Berner says of the video concept. “When I ask them a weird question, they come back with something weirder.” For example, the ABCs question got responses like: “I think everyone hopefully is asking her what alphabet she wants, whether it’s Cyrillic or Mandarin” and “I learned if you keep your head still, their body will move to where they want it to be.”

To Berner, TMI doesn’t exist. From her three-season stint on Bravo’s Summer House to her two podcasts, Berning in Hell and Giggly Squad, she’s brought the same unfiltered energy. Her national comedy tour and TikTok presence are just a continuation of that. Whether she’s inquiring about someone’s grooming routines or their ability to orgasm, Berner doesn’t mind asking probing questions. It’s actually something she thinks everybody should be doing more of, especially on dates. “F*ck normal dating questions and hearing about their hobbies,” she says. “Ask them: ‘Do you believe in blue balls?’ ‘Do you care about body count?’ From their answers, I can tell so much, like whether they’re ready to date or need to work through some demons.”

Below, Berner tells Elite Daily about her comedy and her TikTok — plus, why she thinks people should have a sense of humor about dating and sex.

Elite Daily: Your comedy videos have pretty much taken over TikTok, and you’re on tour right now for your stand-up. Was there one specific moment when you knew you wanted to transition to pursuing comedy full-time?

Hannah Berner: It definitely came from a really dark time. I was 25 and selling T-shirts for a company. The 9-to-5 was making me really depressed, and I panicked. I realized that couldn’t be the rest of my life and that I’d have to make a change.

I knew I wanted to be on camera. For a lot of women, it's looked down upon to want to be seen and take up space. But I realized if I didn’t do that, I was going to be sad my whole life. So, I started manifesting working in video. Soon, I started as a video producer and then I was on TV [in Summer House]. Now I’m just in my silly goose era with comedy and podcasting.

ED: What was that transition like? Did you have any expectations, going into it?

HB: I’m a firm believer in not having a five-year plan. My goal was I want to wake up and do what’s fun for me. I love making people laugh, but I never thought I could make a living being funny. But when I got an opportunity to start making comedy videos for work, it came easy and natural to me. You feel it in your gut when you belong somewhere.

I’ve done other things that failed ’cause I was so obsessed with winning or doing well. But with this, if I was too obsessed with the result, it would be creatively stunting. The joy I get is from feeling like my voice is being heard and the thought that I could make someone feel less alone. I’m not Mother Teresa, but that’s what I get off on.

ED: You’ve gotten huge on TikTok, and your account now has 2.6 million followers and 139.7 million likes. What has the response been like to your account blowing up?

HB: For the most part, the comments have been great because it’s very clear that everything I’m posting is comedy. So, people are just reacting to that. But when it goes too viral, the incels find the video and start commenting “Women aren’t funny.”

It’s a little scary. Like, what time period are we in? You can say you don’t find my video funny, but why do we have to put the blame on an entire gender? Don’t bring all women into this.

ED: How have the crowds at your comedy shows changed since you started going viral on TikTok?

HB: It’s f*cking crazy because the TikTok algorithm is so good. It really finds the people who not only have a similar sense of humor but could also be my friends. I’m very biased, but the girls who come to my show are all hot, successful, cool, self-deprecating, anxious girlies. I feel like I’m at brunch talking to my friends.

Now, because I’ve been joking more about boyfriends and dating, a lot more men have been coming to shows, too, because they love getting made fun of. I love that. I think the audience is more fun when it’s a mix ’cause there’s tension and chemistry to work off of.

ED: You play off that tension that in your “Han on the Street” videos, too. How do you choose who to ask what?

HB: I ask men questions that make them uncomfortable. That was the premise at first. Once I got started, my female friends called me out and were like, “Hey, you’ve got to stop posting dudes. What about supporting other women?” I didn’t want to make fun of them, though, so I had to take a second to figure out how to do it in a funny way.

Then, I realized these girls are willing to talk about really embarrassing stuff. My most-viewed video on TikTok (with 33 million views) is me asking women how often they shave their cooch. When do you actually see real women in the street discussing that? So, with the men, it’s a little more about making fun of them. For women, it’s focused on the stuff we’re usually scared to talk about.

We have to stop taking ourselves and sex so seriously... It’s awkward, it’s embarrassing, it’s imperfect.

ED: Some of your questions like “Was losing your virginity a good experience?” and “Have you ever faked an orgasm?” are really personal. Why do you think it’s important to ask these types of questions about sex?

HB: Just like everything in life, sex has social norms. For so long, people — women, especially — were not talking about it enough. So many of my friends didn’t masturbate for the first time until college, and that’s because it’s so taboo to talk about women’s sexual pleasure and sexual health. I’m trying to break the taboo by having more voices talk about it. Even with the coochie-shaving video, so many women in the comments were like, “Wait, I feel so much better about myself. I thought I had to always look like a naked mole rat.”

Humor makes these conversations palatable. We have to stop taking ourselves and sex so seriously, as if sex is always this gorgeous, hot, sexy, beautiful thing. It’s not. It’s awkward, it’s embarrassing, it’s imperfect.

ED: Do the interviews ever change your perspective? Or do you change theirs?

HB: When I ask a guy about body counts and he’s like “Ew, I don’t want a woman who’s had too many boyfriends,” I like to be able to come back at that. I love the idea of people with different ideologies actually having a conversation, and I definitely try to sneak in my feminist takes. By the time we’re done talking, they all become feminist icons.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.