Nikki Glaser: The new it girl of comedy

Comedian Nikki Glaser
Comedian Nikki Glaser

Nikki Glaser is the “it girl” of comedy. With a sold-out tour, multiple reality shows, and one of the biggest podcasts on the market, she is a force to be reckoned with. However, she was no overnight success. Preparing for her show at the Borgata on Saturday in Atlantic City, Nikki Glaser opened up in a very candid exclusive.

Editor Will Loschiavo with comedian Nikki Glaser
Editor Will Loschiavo with comedian Nikki Glaser

I have worked in Top 40 radio for ten years and have my own podcast. You’ve worked in radio as well, and you have been in the podcast game for over eleven years now, before it became mainstream. You have evolved from You Had to Be There to We Know Nothing to Not Safe to finally the highly successful, The Nikki Glaser Podcast. Everyone has a podcast now. What was your biggest learning lesson in establishing yours?

Nikki Glaser: Great question! Everyone does have a podcast today and I recall when I started eleven years ago thinking the same thing. Now, look how many more people have one. Do not let competition deter you: just do it now! What helped me establish my voice was discussing what I enjoy as opposed to trying to create a podcast other people would like. What people appreciate is if you are enthusiastic and passionate about what you are doing. I wanted to host a show which would make your day better. I crafted episodes about subject matter I cared about and wanted to discuss.

Having guests stressed me out because I became an elevated version of myself and was not fully comfortable. I engineered my podcast to just be me, my best friend Andrew, and to be a friend to my listeners. I advise readers to pick a topic you can talk about for a thousand episodes so you can bring something substantial to the table. Also, do not worry about not having many listeners initially, because it takes hours to get good at something. If you want to be a broadcaster, get those hours and practice under your belt now. Talent is not necessarily something you are born with, there is hard work involved. Taylor Swift started playing guitar at twelve, I started a year ago (laughs).

In April you began your stand-up tour, One Night with Nikki Glaser. You performed in Montclair in May, and you are coming back to New Jersey on December 10 for a show at Borgata Casino Resort. What can fans expect?

NG: Fans can expect me to have fun on stage. I do not even know what I am going to be talking about because my act really takes on a life of its own while I am on tour. That is a great date because, I am not going to lie, there are certain times in the beginning of touring where it is not as good of a performance as the middle or the end. By the time I get to New Jersey that is the sweet spot; the material I am doing is ironed out, there is also fresh material, and everything is working like clockwork.

I touch on my journey to self-acceptance, adulting, feeling like I am not enough, and give people a peek into my world. I am still coping with the same things I was before life became good for me. I do not think of myself as anyone special and simply try to have a good time while giving people their money’s worth.

I recently interviewed Lisa Lampanelli, and while she is critical of comedy today, she said you were one of her favorites …

NG: Ooh I love her so much! That makes me so happy. She is someone I have become friends with after already being a huge fan. We really relate to each other because we both got to the point in our careers where we realized comedy is insincere, mean, and masking pain. There is a lot of showboating and lies today. We prefer to deal with the truth, and over the past couple years, have come to an epiphany where we want to do comedy which gets through to people and makes them feel better about themselves.

Often, when comics achieve fame, they change. Contrarily, you continue to come across as particularly authentic. You are one of the most successful comedians today. How does fame feel?

NG: As much as I benefit from the industry, I am kind of disgusted by it. People who used to never give me the time of day suddenly want to be friends. I used to think people like that were just cunts, and somewhat respected them not liking me, only to realize it was because I was not famous. That is just so gross.

I must work on not giving myself an inflated ego, especially in moments when I am being waited on hand and foot on set, on a plane, etc. I must remind myself I just got lucky. Yes, I worked hard, but I got lucky with a brain that can work hard. I do not think I deserve this because I have struggled since I recognize my parents paid my rent when I couldn’t make it because I was preserving my comedy career. They allowed me to not have to waitress. I am reluctant to ever accept this whole “you deserve to bask in your fame” mindset. I like to give myself a reality check. Your star eventually falls, no one is immune to the cycle of show business, and I do not need people in my life who like me just because of who I have become.

Kudos for keeping yourself in check when you do not have to. Speaking of reality, your docuseries, Welcome Home Nikki Glaser? premiered in May on E! to rave reviews. How was that experience?

NG: I did not prepare at all for a reality show. I did not buy new clothes. I did not get hair and makeup done for every scene. I did not clean my room. I did not do anything to make myself look better or cooler for the show because I wanted it to be as close to reality as possible knowing damn well reality shows are often disingenuous. It was interesting trying to get back with my ex-boyfriend, showcasing my hilarious parents and friends, me on the road vs. me at home, and attempting to record music which is very new to me. During the pandemic I moved back home with my parents, I eventually got my own place in St. Louis, and by the end I did not want to go back to New York nor Los Angeles. I told my agent years ago I desired to make a shift from scripted to reality especially since I don’t even watch scripted shows anymore.

It worked out because you are going into season two of hosting FBOY Island on HBO Max. How is it to go from a television series which is very unfiltered to one very produced?

NG: FBOY Island is much more produced than my docuseries because it relies on group dates, one-on-one dates, and elimination ceremonies. However, what this show taught me is that despite being highly produced, the emotions which come out of the process are real. These people are placed in a pressure cooker: they do not have their phones, friends, and family. All they do is hang out with boys, go on dates, and give interviews on their dates. You will fall in love so fast.

Thus, nothing about it is fake because all the emotions are real, which is so captivating because these two people would not fall in love in the outside world, yet they are now because of their environment. I love this show because I am not the one being heartbroken; I just get to come in and play. It is the best gig ever, I love it!

You raised an important point. As a gay man, I hate being single today because people get attached instantly yet detach just as quick. They get bored, play head games, have too many options, and I blame it on the apps. Is social media ruining romance?

NG: I can’t even imagine what it is like to be a gay man dating. Everyone always says it would be great to be a gay man because both parties want to have sex right away and cut to the chase. Yet, I think it would be difficult due to this especially if you desire a committed relationship. I have read tons of books on male behavior and essentially how to trick men into loving and committing to you despite their human nature to spread the seed (laughs). Men, regardless of orientation, want someone who respects themselves and isn’t going to give it away to everyone. I think the trick is to hold off anal sex or intercourse until you have a commitment.

I know if I have sex with someone, I get very attached. I very much enjoy anal penetration which you will hear about at my show. Men want what they can’t have. If you find a guy to be the real deal, do everything except anal, protect your heart, and illustrate that you want more than a typical fuck and run. I tell these contestants to not give everything up front if you truly desire him.

You are the roasting queen and you do it so effortlessly. Of all the people you’ve read, who has been your favorite Comedy Central roast?

NG: My favorite roast would be my last roast, Alec Baldwin. I had already done a few and by that point was able to really let loose. At that point, I was relaxed enough to go into it. I knew Caitlyn Jenner was going to be there, but I did not want to have all my jokes be trans. I did not want to take the easy way out. Plus, I was much more familiar with Alec than Rob Lowe and Bruce Willis. However, I will say roasts are the most stressful thing in the business for me. I must take my brain to the most negative space ever because, in order to write these types of jokes, you have to be nasty. You basically need to be a Trumpie for three weeks and hate anyone who isn’t you.

Buy tickets to see Nikki Glaser at Borgata Casino Resort.

Will Loschiavo
Will Loschiavo is Out In Jersey‘s entertainment editor. He has worked for Top 40 radio stations in New York and New Jersey, written for various publications, and currently works media tech operations for NBC. Will is the host of the Will Love Listen podcast available on iHeartRadio, Amazon Music, Spotify, Apple, and Google. Follow on Instagram: @WillLoveInc.