Inside Deborah Vance's “Hacks” roast — and DJ's catchphrase 'What a c--t!'

Inside Deborah Vance's “Hacks” roast — and DJ's catchphrase 'What a c--t!'

Kaitlin Olson's DJ Vance rules over her mom's roast in the show's new episode. We break it down with Jean Smart, Hannah Einbinder, and the series creators.

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Hacks season 3, episode 3, "The Roast of Deborah Vance."

Comedians haven’t really embraced catchphrases since Rodney Dangerfield’s “I don’t get no respect” — until now.

DJ Vance (Kaitlin Olson) may not be a comedian, but the roast of her mom, Deborah Vance (Jean Smart), on episode 3 of Hacks gave her a taste of the spotlight — and helped her understand why her mother can’t get enough of it.

On a dais that includes Patton Oswalt, Natasha Leggero, and Mario Cantone, among others, DJ becomes the roaster everyone is talking about after skewering her mother with three simple words — which Ava (Hannah Einbinder) suggests earlier in the episode she should reconsider, but which DJ utters over and over: “What a c--t!"

<p>HBO Max </p> 'Hacks'



“We found that early,” creator Paul W. Downs explains to Entertainment Weekly, before his co-creator (and wife) Lucia Aniello adds, laughing, “under a dirty sock.”

Says Downs, “There were questions around whether or not it would work, but we were like, in Kaitlin's hands, it absolutely will. And it felt right for DJ that she'd be like,' I'm going to do this and stick to my guns,' even when Ava suggests maybe she not — and it works.”

Over the course of her roast set, the audience sees DJ unleash the vulgar phrase a half-dozen times, each time delivered differently, and to enormous comedic effect.

Downs says that because the sequence was edited down, Olson said it “probably six or seven more times.” Given that the show is streaming, Max execs gave them no restrictions on how often they could include the word c--- in the episode. "They said 'more!'" Aniello jokes.

Related: Deidre Hall to appear on 'Hacks' season 3— check out first-look photos of her and guest star Christopher Lloyd

Einbinder recalls watching whom she now calls “the funniest person on Earth” in awe. “She's the most confident comedic performer ever,” the actress says of Olson. “But in DJ, she has to start and create that very gradually. She's a little worried, and then she gets comfortable, and then she's crushing, and it was beautiful to watch her do that.”

Smart starts cackling thinking back to the scene. “It's unfair that a girl who's that drop-dead gorgeous with that body is that funny,” she deadpans. “I love her anyway.”

<p>HBO Max </p> Kaitlin Olson on 'Hacks'


Kaitlin Olson on 'Hacks'

While the roast itself delivers big laughs, the beginning of the episode is a real reckoning for the mother and daughter. Deborah, who attends DJ’s Narcotics Anonymous meeting because she’s getting her five-year chip, is asked to say something while presenting it to DJ — but things devolve when Deborah pulls focus with her jokes, helping feed her desire to land the newly opened host spot on a late-night show.

“It always kind of makes me feel bad when I'm a terrible mother,” Smart says of their onscreen dynamic, laughing. “She always can't resist saying the wrong thing.”

Related: 2024 Emmy nomination predictions: Outstanding Drama, Comedy, and Limited Series

“Deborah and DJ have had a very tumultuous relationship, and DJ, in a really lovely way, kind of went off from her mom and did the work," explains Hacks co-creator Jen Statsky. "She's been in therapy, she's been going to the recovery meetings, and getting her mom to finally come is a huge deal for her — it's a big marker in their relationship. And then, Deborah, with this crazy goal that she is so tunnel-vision for, she can't help it because — as we find out at the end of the episode — she is addicted to laughter. She's addicted to performing. She's addicted to being in the spotlight."

Statsky adds, "And for us, that really unlocked this piece for DJ of getting an understanding of, 'I can never get this from my mom because she is an addict like me, and I understand addicts.' So it was really an important episode for us to do in the evolution of DJ as a character and the evolution of their relationship.”

New episodes of Hacks drop Thursdays on Max.

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.