Nothing Nikki Glaser Jokes About on Saturday Leaves This Room, Got It?

Nikki Glaser is changing how she does everything
Nikki Glaser is changing how she does everything Photo by Luke Schwartz

Comic Nikki Glaser is clearly on a quest, and from the sound of her voice, there’s some nervousness in her unknown terrain ahead. “No, it's crazy, I’m back on tour after taking quite a break since like December. Promoting my reality show, filming FBoy Island 2, and other projects coming up,” the Midwest-born comic says.

“You know, the more you have success in this business the busier you get and the less time you have to enjoy your successes. Bit I’m really looking forward to this tour in a way I did not expect.”

Before getting to back to the road of one night stands that lead to One Night with Nikki Glaser, which will be filling the 713 Music Hall this Saturday, the 37-year-old jokester and TV personality dives deep on her latest headlining grabbing hosting gig for HBOMax: the lusty and tawdry will-they-should-they reality show FBoy Island, which just finished filming its second season.

“We do a whole season in a single stretch, so I was gone this time I think seven and a half weeks?” Glazer calculates. “Pretty long time for a reality show which I like because a lot of times, and I only know this from working with people who work in reality shows, they are like, ‘Wow, this is a longer one.’ And sometimes you’re watching a reality show to realize these people have met, fallen in love, broken up, and everything within three weeks and for me that’s just pushing it. Its already an insane thing to expect of people, but giving it a little more time just makes it all the more real.”

She addresses the slightly controversial premise of the dating series, which involves love-starved good boys and money hungry bad boys vying for affection and/or cash. “I love it, and you know, the [show’s] title would suggest there’s a lot of nefarious trickery happening behind the scenes. But what I realized about these shows, I always compared them with going to the Zoo. People are so ashamed of watching reality TV because it's fake or whatever, but I’ll ask: “Are you ashamed of going to the Zoo? Because it’s the same God damn thing, you know? You’re watching these animals react as they would in the wild, but they’re just in a habitat created by humans.

"That’s what’s happening on these shows, the emotions and things that happen. No one is being told how to act. They’re just being put in scenarios where we hope they’ll act in a certain way. And a lot of the times, they do! You know, we’re just trying to get pandas to breed!”

But while the boys try to f, Nikki had to take a nearly two-month break from her passion of performing live after recording her latest hour of material for HBO in November. Almost like a second mini pandemic, the time away got Glaser to re-thinking her entire way of creating jokes.

“I took a break from my stand-up tour because of FBoy. And so the last date I had was in early December, and picking back up again, I was a little nervous. Like, OK, I already shot my special for HBO, which is coming out this summer — should I burn and not do even do that material on this tour because people might see it on the special so soon? And I kicked off the tour last week in Canada and I just found that in this time of taking off doing stand up, I have written so much, and top secret between you and me (and not off the record at all) – but I don’t write jokes the way people think comedians write jokes. I don’t write them down in a computer, I don’t write them down in a notebook, it’s all in my head and I form bits by presenting or maybe I write a line in my notes.”

Glaser explains her traditional method with a recently formed comic premise: “Like, maybe it will be funny to talk about not wanting to have kids because the world is ending - but not because they won’t be able to live and see the world, but because I think it will be hard to get around in Apocalypse with a child and I have to fix their shoe – like they’re shoe is bothering them and I’m like, we have to run! So I’ll put something in my phone like ‘Apocalypse Children’ and I’ll bring it on stage and I’ll talk it out roughly and over time, it takes shape and eventually just locks in. Then once it finds its [groove] and it’s a ten, I’ll just say it the same way. But I never write it down anywhere, and I never really write jokes down. They’re little germs of an idea.”

“But this time, with my time off, I was so anxious about getting back into it and thinking oh my God, I don’t have new material – I went old school and opened up my laptop and just started writing. I realized I have been doing myself a disservice by doing it the easy way, and so this special I am building towards with this new tour I’m ready to tape another one honestly.

"I’m able to talk about things on stage; I’m almost want to call this tour ‘This Doesn’t Leave This Room’ because there are things I’m saying on stage that I don’t want out there yet, because I’m still trying to figure out how to explain them in a comedic way, things that are so embarrassing or things that are so shameful. I think they’re things that are important to share because that’s the comedian's job is to be completely honest about all the shameful stuff they do, so that you the audience can feel a little less alone and can laugh about your insecurities.

"There are things I’m talking about that I never thought I would be talking about, that I now have enough distance from that I’m beginning to say, how do I present this story where I’m a bad person in this story, I did something wrong – how do I make this funny? I know I’m not the only person who has done this. So this tour is filled with things I didn’t think I would ever talk about on stage, and I am forcing myself to do so.”

Glaser, with a sense of genuine anxiety in her voice, speaks passionately about what she aims for this new direction for her material: it's all about feeling less alone. “The reason I feel shame about them is because nobody ever talks about these things! But the thing is I KNOW there are people out there who have been in my position before. The reason I’m doing it is because of the I reason I feel shame about it, so that maybe someone down the road will be able to look at my bit, once it fully formed and in the special, and go: ‘Oh, maybe I should let myself off the hook a little bit. Yeah I did some thing wrong, but maybe there’s another side to this where I’m a person in pain.’ And maybe there’s some funny parts to it.”

But with this brave new territory, comes a bit more of a heavy hand in one of the new lightning rods for touring comedians: how to handle a phone in the audience. Glaser appears torn, but makes her case efficiently: “There is an announcement before the show of like, please put away your cameras and please don’t videotape anything – and I’m fine with cameras coming to shows, by the way! Venues will always say don’t photograph or videotape during the show – I love when people take pictures and celebrate that they’re there. Honestly, I always try to look very nice and I’m down to re-post. If you take flattering shot of me, I will re-post it on my Instagram. I just don’t want you to videotape during certain parts of my act. And I’m NEVER one of those comics who says they don’t want it out there because they want to put it in their special, it's that I don’t want it out there because these are stories I’m only willing to tell live audience. Like, they’re not ready. I don’t want to get cancelled!”

“That’s what I’m trying to bring to this tour – to celebrate the beauty of live performance! Something that can only happen live. I would tell it on a TV recorded thing. This isn’t something that’s going to be super clean and perfect. That’s what I love about stand-up. I’m watching something that only happen live right in this room, and I am her friend. I get to be here for it. I can re-tell it on the outside, but will anyone believe me? I don’t know. That’s the kind of show I’m creating!”

Despite only recording her last special a few months ago, Glaser feels so strongly about her new direction – it sounds like her next recording could be sooner than anyone thinks. “I should tape my [next] special in Houston, and will be greatly considering it that night,” she says, breaking some news. “I’m doing a little bit of material from my special that I have just breathed new life into, which is always a doubled edged sword because you tape a special and then you keep doing that material. That’s why comedians dump material after recording a special! Because if you keep doing it, you’ll keep making it funnier and you’ll want to re-record your special!

"But actually the material that they are going to see that is in my special in July is so much better than when I recorded it in November that you probably wont even recognize it. This tour is really about rapid-fire machine gun style jokes with really personal stories that my closest friends only really know. And things I wouldn’t have thought I’d admit yet that I’m working out on stage. I am trying to bring us all together, like we’re all flawed. But I’m also extremely filthy in doing so.”

Glaser offers a surprising potential take-away for those who see her Saturday night set. “I will say that people leave my show saying I’ll be a better parent for my daughter. A lot of it is me saying, like I’m not a parent so I don’t know what that’s like, but I do know what it's like to be a child – I really still feel like one, and we need to talk to our children differently about sex and relationships. My tour is just brutal, brutal honesty, with rapid fire one liner jokes that people are accustomed to.”

And for those who know Glaser best for her nights on the Comedy Central Roast circuit, Glaser reveals her latest target: Houston. “I’m bringing a new thing to my shows that I can’t believe that I hadn’t thought of before... I’ve started roasting the cities. I’ll write jokes specifically for the city, talk about their city or look up fun facts. It's such a fun way to bring us all together because people love, when I see a musician or a comedian, I want them so badly to make fun of my city and to give me their take. I think I used to be really scared of that where I’d get into a city, land at 5 o’clock and drive to the hotel. Then I’d be like I can’t really comment on the city, I saw one Uber ride of it – but the other day I decided to start Googling fun facts about the town and it has been so much fun. It’ll be a roast. It’s almost worse when its such an easy target.”

Perhaps in a preview of what to expect on Saturday, Glaser lets loose and starts riffing: “I have been to Houston a lot, and I love it a lot. I went there right after the flood you guys had years ago. It was Harvey right? That was the first Harvey we had in the news that ruined our nation. Next one is gonna be Hurricane Will Smith! You guys tell us preemptively what’s going on. I love Houston, I feel connected to it – I did some animal rescue work there. I’ve hung out in Houston and had a lot of fun there. My cousin lived there for a while, my cousin who is now dead, and so I always blamed Houston for killing him. So that’ll be fun. That’s where he found drugs, I mean he would have found it eventually. You gotta put the blame somewhere.

“I love coming to Texas. And it’s at the tail end of a three Texas city tour, and I’m most excited about the Houston show because it is the end. It is the last night. I just know that as a comedian, from being on tour, I know that if I’m ever going to see a comedian or musician or whatever, I’m always gonna want to catch them on the last night of a run. Just like anything, you can see the end you’re about to go home – not that you don’t enjoy it – but it’s a celebration, a grand finale. I have to say, don’t tell Dallas or Austin, but Houston is getting my best show. And because you’re also getting me after two nights of practice, so the show you see on Saturday night is going to be well rehearsed and celebratory!”

Finally, Glaser wants to make a heart-felt appeal to those special people who she wants to see more of at her shows: people who come alone. “A lot of people don’t go to live events because they don’t have anyone to go with. I know I’ve been in that boat before. I really want to go to this band but don’t want to go alone. I really want to go to this movie, but don’t want to go alone. I don’t want to be the creep alone. But the thing is, I love when people go alone because it shows confidence. It shows that you put your own happiness first. And honestly, going alone is better than dragging someone along that you have to convince, you send them my YouTube videos and they’re kind of sold, but you’re worried the whole time about whether they’re having fun because you feel like you tricked them into going.

"When I see someone going alone to a show, I think it’s the bravest thing you can do and the coolest thing you can do, and I really implore people to go alone. There’s so many seats that are just one seat! And unless you go alone, those seats don’t get filled and it makes for an awkward show.”

In fact, Glaser is willing to sweeten the deal for those who come on Saturday stag. “If you go alone, I will give you a meet and greet ticket on me. You can go to the merch both and say you went alone and it will be on me! That’s my new rule. It takes a lot of courage. As long as you can go the merch booth and prove it, there’s a freebie in it. And its not like where you just walk over to a chair I’m sitting in and lean over and smile like the Britney Spears Meet-and-Greet where you’re not allowed to talk to me or make eye contact.

"The meet-and-greets are one of my favorite parts of the show, and I want people to not miss out on things because they don’t have friends or don’t have a friend that can get away from the kids. Friends who want to do stuff are hard to come by. So don’t miss out, come to my show alone and I will honestly think you are cooler than anyone who came with a friend. And yes, and I will not make fun of you in the crowd.”

Nikki Glaser’s performance is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 16 at 713 Music Hall, 401 Franklin, Suit 1600. For more information, visit $36-$130

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Vic covers the comedy scene, in Houston and beyond. When not writing articles, he's working on his scripts, editing a podcast, doing some funny make-em-ups or preaching the good word of supporting education in the arts.
Contact: Vic Shuttee