Nikki Glaser on the Weirdo Olympics, stolen jokes and a new mattress
Nikki Glaser is a New-York based comedian with a formidable list of credits and an immediately engaging performance style. Despite their raunchy subject matter, Glaser's jokes are wryly observant and leavened by her considerable charm. Glaser has appeared on @Midnight and Last Comic Standing, as well as The Tonight Show with Jay Leno; until recently, Glaser could be seen co-hosting The Nikki and Sarah Show on MTV. Glaser has a soft spot in her heart for Colorado; she performed her first set at the University of Colorado at Boulder and appeared on the pilot episode of the Grawlix's Those Who Can't.
Tomorrow Glaser returns to the Mile High City to headline Sexpot Comedy's Weirdo Olympics. In advance of that appearance, Westword caught up with Glaser to discuss the end of her show, having a bit stolen, and why she'd move to Denver if she could.
Westword: You honed your craft doing road gigs at Midwest comedy clubs. Can you describe how starting out in that environment informed your joke-writing, performance style and work ethic?
Nikki Glaser: I started out splitting my time between the Kansas City and St. Louis comedy scenes, which both had bluer sensibilities than other cities that I've worked. But I loved it and still love it. It taught me to never censor myself. Performing at the gritty clubs in both cities taught me how to be a road comic before I was out on the road. The rooms were drunk and smoky and the crowds were down to hear anything. They weren't uptight or trying to be cool. It was a great place to start.
Did you come through Denver often earlier in your career? Are you looking forward to anything in particular about your upcoming visit?
The first place I ever performed was at CU Boulder. I went there my freshman year and discovered stand-up after my friends talked me into signing up for a showcase on campus. In the past ten years of doing stand-up, I've visited Denver whenever I can. Two of my best friends live there, so I will do any show I can to have an excuse to come visit. Luckily, the comedy scene is so damn good there that the shows are always super-fun. If I didn't have to live in New York or L.A. for this stupid profession, I would move to Denver in a heartbeat.
How did the Weirdo Olympics show come together?
My friend Andy Juett, who produces it, wrote me an e-mail. And now here we are!
It sucks that MTV didn't pick up Nikki & Sara Live for a third season. As a silver lining, though, has it at least freed you up to travel more and get back into stand-up?
Yes, it has freed me up. I didn't travel at all last year. I don't know that that is a silver lining, though. Maybe a brown lining... or a yellow one, like the ones you see on your pillow when you take it out of the case? I love what I do, but living in one place for an entire year and not being on the road constantly was glorious. The road lifestyle is not ideal for a woman who's about to be thirty. That being said, Denver is different. I have friends there. I'm not spending my weekend alone in a Holiday Inn Express.
What's going on with E! stealing that bit from your show?
They stole a bit from our show outright. We called them out on it. No response. Go figure. It's just a shame. I mean, you'd think brainless, vapid, anorexic, star-obsessed nobodies would have the skills to write their own comedy, you know?
What are your thoughts on unofficially 420-friendly events and performing for stoned audiences in general?
I prefer stoned audience to drunk audiences. Lengthier spouts of laughter and less heckling.
Your Comedy Central half-hour aired recently. Did you retire that material after your special?
Yes and no. I don't shy away from doing an old bit if the moment calls for it. Especially since not everyone has seen my special and might be interested in what I have to say about my vagina. But I have written other material since then that I'm more excited to tell.
Has it been more challenging in general to work out new jokes now that you have a higher profile?
My profile has stayed the same, from what I can tell. I still want a nose job. JK! (or am I?) All I know is that not many of my MTV fans are old enough to go to comedy shows yet, so I haven't seen a huge change out on the road. However, I can say that because I've been doing comedy for over ten years, I have the skill set to try new jokes in the middle of a set and not have their inherent weakness derail me. I don't feel the same pressure to be perfect up there that I did in the beginning. It's more fun for me to fuck around.
Do you have any interesting developments on the horizon that you can discuss at this point?
I just bought a new mattress that is being delivered the day I get back from Denver. I am very excited about it. It's a Tempur Pedic, you know, so I won't wake up when no one tosses and turns next to me at night!
In addition to Nikki Glaser, Weirdo Olympics will also feature sets by David Gborie, who's one of San Francisco's funniest dudes, as well as local favorites Kevin O'Brien, Sam Tallent and Sexpot's go-to emcee, Jordan Doll. The show starts at 8 p.m. Friday, February 28, at the Oriental Theater. Tickets are $15.
Follow Byron Graham on twitter @ByronFG for more mildly amusing sequences of words.
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