BY KEELEY MCAVENEY Stand up comedian, podcast host and Dancing With The Stars contestant, Nikki Glaser is known and loved for her lack of a filter. Her honesty isn’t for the mere sake of shock value. It’s thoughtful. It’s real. And for many, it’s a relief, an encouragement, to hear someone speak so honestly about all the once deemed shameful shit that comprises womanhood. From what it’s like being constantly asked about what-it’s-like-being-a-woman-in-comedy to whether or not Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga have banged, she’s got an opinion, and you want to hear it. You can catch her tonight through Saturday at Punch Line Philly.
DISCUSSED: #MeToo, Kavanaugh, vaginas, are women funny, all moms watch Dancing With The Stars, Sarah Silverman, funny woman quotas, TMI, Mackenzie Ziegler, the Sia girl, the Bechdel test, A Star Is Born, unacknowledged penises.
PHAWKER: Do you find you get asked in nearly every recent interview about the Me Too movement or Kavanaugh or other things that seem to concern women?
NIKKI GLASER: Yeah, I haven’t been asked about Kavanaugh specifically. But, yeah, you get asked as a woman even before the Me Too movement, the common question was what’s it like to be a woman in comedy, questions about being a woman. You know, I’m into being a woman. I like being a woman. I’ll talk about it.
PHAWKER: Via your comedy I feel like I know your vagina more personally than I know my own.
NIKKI GLASER: Yeah, I feel like, although, I’m not sure if I’m representing it well anymore because I don’t even wanna look at it because I talk about it so much on stage, so it could’ve changed. I should update those jokes.
PHAWKER: But, back to the movement concerned questions, I just feel as if men aren’t asked about these things. It’s unfair.
NIKKI GLASER: Men aren’t being asked every time. They don’t need to weigh in. That’s so true. Why would we ever expect that from them? They’d hang up on you.
PHAWKER: Yeah, they’d be done. So rather than asking what it’s like to be a female in comedy and focusing on the difficult or negative aspects, what are the advantages that you find to being a female comedian? What can you use to your advantage?
NIKKI GLASER: The advantages are that, you know, unfortunately people think that women aren’t funny, so if you are funny people make a bigger deal out of it because they’re stupid. But other advantages are that there’s a thirst for women to feel represented in an honest way right now, as there always has been. As a mouthpiece, as someone who just doesn’t have a filter, you feel really appreciated. There’s an appreciation that I don’t know if men feel as much from their male fans, just like, ‘I’m so glad to hear someone talk like me and my friends do!’ I don’t know that men hear that a lot, so that feels really good as a female comedian. You meet the coolest women because other cool women do stand up. There’s tons of advantages, and, you know, there’s less of us, so it’s more competitive, but there’s less of us so you stand out more.
PHAWKER: With women in comedy, even though there’s less of them, it doesn’t always feel competitive. I’ve found them often to be more supportive or inclusive as a community.
NIKKI GLASER: Yeah, I mean it changes city by city. I’ve been bullied by female comics before, and I know female comedians who have been bullied by other female comics. It can happen, just like it can happen anywhere, but I think that the Me Too movement obviously has brought us all together as one a little bit more, and we realize that we need to lift each other up. Realize that one of our wins means a win for all of us. I think we’re starting to really understand that, but the competitive nature of it is deeply ingrained in us because men make the system. There can only be one woman per show.
PHAWKER: One funny woman.
NIKKI GLASER: Yeah, one funny woman per show, or two maybe if it’s… It’d have to be a different ethnicity woman, which is obviously good. But what I’m saying is there’s these strategic decisions made by men and then they pit us against each other, and we start competing, and we take each other down. The system that they put in place is a self-sustaining system. They don’t even need to run it anymore. I forget who I heard say it for the first time, but I was like ‘Oh, woaaaaah.’ It opened my eyes. So I try to combat that feeling of competition as much as I can, but I’ve had the best support from female comedians, and I, myself, love helping out other female comedians. It feels good, and there’s so many of us now. It’s a good moment for us comedically, I think.
PHAWKER: And most of them have different voices, or more divergent than in the past.
NIKKI GLASER: Everyone can find someone that kind of speaks to them because there’s enough of us now. I don’t know. The way I felt when I discovered Sarah Silverman, I wished more women spoke that way because I felt understood, and I felt like she was someone who was flawed and cool at the same time. It was okay to be quirky and dark. Women need more examples of women that celebrate their flaws or what they think are flaws. And then you go, ‘Oh, it’s not so bad. That person, who I think has it all together, thinks these things, oh good.’ I think that’s the goal. I don’t know how I got there, but here we are.
PHAWKER: Oh no, I’m happy to be on the topic of Sarah Silverman.
NIKKI GLASER: I love the way she talks. I watched her so much when I was starting stand up that I think I just talk like her now it’s embedded in my head. I have mannerisms of hers that you’d pick up from like your mom or something. But I think that’s what every artist is: just an amalgamation of all of the people they admire plus whatever de-function you may have.
PHAWKER: You started stand up pretty young, right?
NIKKI GLASER: The first time I went on stage I was eighteen, but then I really leaned into it when I was nineteen, twenty. Twenty was when it really shifted, like this is what I do all the time.
PHAWKER: Was your material similar to what you have now? How has it evolved?
NIKKI GLASER: I was very one-liner-y in the beginning. Now, it’s just like I can have those one liner moments within longer pieces, and I’m confident in what I’m saying now. I trust my voice enough to be able to just talk how I talk and have it be funny. And then you get to work on it after you put the idea out there. Being confident on stage is so much of getting good at stand up.
PHAWKER: And just establishing a voice that you feel comfortable with.
NIKKI GLASER: Yeah, and hopefully, for me, I don’t want to cultivate a voice so much as have it be my own. I’m just trying to get as close as I am offstage with the funny. Not something that I have to pull out of myself in order to get through a set. Like you know some people are super high energy, or they have some kind of thing, which I don’t begrudge them that thing because it works. Some guys just only wear a suit on stage, and I’m like, some nights I would just not want to be in a fucking suit. We all wear suits of many different… shades. There’s a lot of different gimmicks you can have that you have to keep up, and it’s like, if I’m depressed, I just want to go on stage and talk about being depressed kind of.
PHAWKER: Do you do that a lot, I mean, riff a lot?
NIKKI GLASER: I riff between bits and in them sometimes. But, yeah, I write on stage. Like I’ll come up with an idea and kind of throw it out there and then kind of riff on it and then get back to material that works if it doesn’t go anywhere. Sometimes it goes somewhere. I build my act on stage, for sure.
PHAWKER: Did you write anything other than comedy before? I read that you were a lit major in college.
NIKKI GLASER: No, I only wrote book reports and essays. I was good at that, but I never wrote like creative writing. I took a couple classes in college, but I didn’t love it. I did think for a while, though, that I was going to be a comedy writer, so I wrote like a Friends script when I was a freshman in college, just to be like ‘Can I do this?’ before I discovered stand up. I was like, I’ll be a TV writer I guess because I wanted to be an actress at first, I thought, and then I realized acting is like really hard. I didn’t have the passion to be as good as I wanted to be. I knew I didn’t have enough natural talent that I’d have to work at it really hard, and I was just like, I don’t really care enough to work that hard, so I was like, I guess I’ll be a TV writer. And then I kind of combined both and got to just be myself on stage. Stand up was perfect.
PHAWKER: Have you written anything TV wise since?
NIKKI GLASER: Yeah, I’ve written a pilot, and I’ve written scenes and stuff but not a ton of scripted stuff. I mostly have worked in non-scripted, just hosting things, like loosely written things. I write roast jokes when I do the roasts. I do different kinds of writing other than stand up, but, yeah, I hope to in the future.
PHAWKER: Are you going to be on anything like that soon?
NIKKI GLASER: I’m developing some stuff that I can’t even talk about. There’s always stuff in the works. I just did Dancing with the Stars.
PHAWKER: My mom loved you on it.
NIKKI GLASER: Everyone’s mom watches it. That’s so funny. I threw myself into that for a month and just got out of that a couple weeks ago, so still recovering.
PHAWKER: Did you have energy outside of it to do comedy still?
NIKKI GLASER: It was kind of nice because I got to just not do anything else because I feel like I just do comedy every single night, and I just wanted a break I think. I got asked to do it, and I was like, yeah, this will give me an excuse to just kind of force myself–I hate to say it–but get a vacation from work is to take on a job that requires all of my time that is not the job that I’m used to. I was like, oh yeah, I’ll just go do this dancing job. I don’t dance. It was just an experiment, and I had so much fun. I got eliminated first. I’m dying to go back. I loved every second of it. I got injured. It was really painful physically and emotionally, but it was so fun.
PHAWKER: How’d you injure yourself?
NIKKI GLASER: I was trying to prep the third dance. We learned three dances before we even did the first dance. So I was trying to learn the third dance, and I got lifted by a hot guy. He lifted me like under my arms and just sprained my back. I tore a ligament in my back a little bit, and it was two days before we went live on TV, so it was like… It was not fun. I was able to overcome it just by mental toughness. I literally just said a mantra thousands of times of ‘I’m prepared. I’m strong. And this is easy.’ And I went from being a wounded bird to being able to move my arm a little bit more than a little bit more within a few hours, and I was ready to do the dance. It was incredible.
PHAWKER: Do you try to take breaks like this from comedy a lot or feel like you need time and you’re slumping off?
NIKKI GLASER: Yeah. When I do TV shows I’ve taken breaks because I just can’t do all of it. I just burn out and then have like a crying episode either at work or on stage. You know, not on stage, but at the comedy club. Like I show up, and I’m just so exhausted I break down in tears. So I know I can’t do that to myself now. I always end up burning out, so instead I push it until I hit a bottom, but then I give up and go ‘Okay. You’re just going to lean into this TV show. Stand up will be waiting for you on the other side.’ Yeah, I have to learn how to step away from it.
PHAWKER: Stand up is very all encompassing. You feel like you’re not being productive if you’re not constantly doing it even in your free time.
NIKKI GLASER: Yeah, for me right now it’s something that if I do it every night that’s enough for me to sustain with writing. I get writing done on stage and stuff. I don’t really have time to do much stand up writing outside of it. But I don’t really need to because I get on stage enough. It’s nice that way. You go to shows, and you talk about jokes. You do some work at night when you’re out doing it. I also do a radio show for two hours every morning so that’s a chunk of my day that’s taken up. Monday through Thursday, yeah. It’s called You Up, and it’s on Channel 95 Comedy Central radio. We’ve been doing it since February.
PHAWKER: Do you ever find that with doing so much comedy and being so honest that you have people take issue with you revealing too much? Has that been an issue in your personal life?
NIKKI GLASER: It’s been an issue. I’ve revealed too much in not just sexual ways but just in different ways that has hurt people’s feelings. I try to be more trepidatious when I’m doing that kind of material now. That’s the right word to use. I’m still always at risk of saying too much. The other night I was on stage, and I literally said to the crowd, ‘Can we keep this between us?’ Because I was saying stuff that I was like I don’t want this out there, but sometimes you’ve just gotta get it out.
PHAWKER: It’s difficult because, yeah, good comedy is personal and truthful, but it also often involves other people.
NIKKI GLASER: Exactly.
PHAWKER: I also had a very indulgent personal question. Have you seen A Star Is Born, and what did you think of it?
NIKKI GLASER: Yeah, I have so many thoughts. I love Lady Gaga. I was not expecting her to be so good at acting. I was impressed. I didn’t really care about the characters as much as I wanted to. I felt emotionally manipulated at many points during the process of the movie. But I think that their chemistry is so off the charts that I’m almost certain they’ve banged. The way she talks about him in interviews I’m like… This is all just not even allegedly, but you just watch it and get an intuition that they have to have banged. I think it’s in my deepest fantasies I want them to have banged. I want them to have been inside each other. I would bet money on it that they have. Hopefully someday I’ll find out.
PHAWKER: What else have you been watching or listening to lately that you’ve either really enjoyed or really hated?
NIKKI GLASER: I’m obsessed with this pop song by Mackenzie Ziegler. She’s Maddie Ziegler’s sister.
PHAWKER: The Sia girl?
NIKKI GLASER: Yes! Maddie Ziegler is the Sia girl. Mackenzie Ziegler was on Dancing with the Stars, or rather is currently on Dancing with the Stars. She’s also a pop singer. She sang this song during the second episode of Dancing with the Stars, the one I was voted off of. She sang this song, ‘Wonderful.’ It’s just a great anthem for women, and it’s not about a boy. It’s just about feeling great and being grateful for life. It’s so good. I cannot stop listening to it. It puts me in the best mood. I just want every woman to listen to it. I just want to share it with other women. It’s for like mothers and daughters. It’s a young girl song too.
PHAWKER: How old is she?
NIKKI GLASER: I think she’s fourteen or fifteen, but it is so good.
PHAWKER: I’ll definitely listen. It’s getting easier and easier to find good female content that doesn’t have anything to do with men.
NIKKI GLASER: Yeah, I was like this passes the Bechdel test big time.
PHAWKER: I’ve been trying more and more to do it myself, just not have myself or my work be so heavily influenced in that way. Do you feel like you run into the same issue ever?
NIKKI GLASER: That would be an interesting challenge going on stage tonight and try not to talk about a single man. It’s interesting. I might try to do that. I don’t know if my material. I don’t know if I could. But, most of my material is about not letting guys have orgasms anymore and refusing to acknowledge their penises when you hook up with them. That’s kind of a batch of my material right now.
NIKKI GLASSER PERFORMS @ PUNCH LINE PHILLY OCTOBER 18TH-20TH