Nikki Glaser Lets It All Out
Nikki Glaser can’t stop working, so it’s a good thing she loves her job. A stand-up comedian above all else (her Comedy Central roasts are must-see), Glaser has brought her spiky sense of humor to the worlds of podcasting and reality TV, where she’s currently hosting the second season of HBO Max’s hilariously shallow dating show FBoy Island. But Glaser’s natural habitat is on stage with a mic in her hand, which is evident on her new HBO special Good Clean Filth. From a tarmac in Albany, the St. Louis native took some time away from her hectic schedule to tell us basically everything.
INTERVIEW: Where do you work?
NIKKI GLASER: There is nowhere I don’t work because of phones. Work can always find me.
INTERVIEW: Where are you now?
GLASER: I am on a plane right now on the tarmac in Albany. This is one of the only times I can’t really work because my laptop should be stowed for takeoff, but I’m pushing the limits and will be scolded for still having it out any minute.
INTERVIEW: Who do you work with?
GLASER: On my stand-up, I work alone mostly. I’ll run jokes by my friends or boyfriend before I take it on stage, but even if they say, “I don’t really get it” about a premise, I’ll still try it in front of an audience before I completely give up on it. And as far as podcasting and TV, I depend on others. I would never have done a podcast or TV show without someone else leading the way. TV production and podcasting requires both preparation and then you have to go back and look at what you just did to make sure it was good. I hate both of those processes. They cause me dread, regret, and self-loathing. That’s why I love live stand-up; it only exists in the moment. My HBO special Good Clean Filth was supposed to be released in March but it got pushed because I could not bring myself to edit it. The fear of not liking something that I couldn’t change was too overwhelming.
INTERVIEW: What’s your morning routine?
GLASER: My alarm is Taylor Swift’s “Delicate,” which is one of my favorite songs. You might think it would ruin my favorite song to have it associated with waking up, but instead I associate waking up with my favorite song and so it makes being awake slightly less excruciating. Then I take off my oversized tee shirt that is probably sopped with my night sweat and I put on a dry t-shirt, shorts, and some crocs and walk my dog while placing a Starbucks mobile order that I pick up on the route. Then I text my podcast producer and co-host that I need to start 20 minutes late. I head back upstairs to my apartment and eat two bowls of oatmeal and maybe consume a sip of water before heading to my podcast studio to record.
INTERVIEW: What gives you energy?
GLASER: Caffeine. Being minutes away from being done with something that takes effort. My dog greeting me when I get back from the road.
INTERVIEW: What are you made of?
GLASER: Blood, bones, and stevia.
INTERVIEW: How much stamina do you have?
GLASER: Not enough to come up with a clever answer to this.
INTERVIEW: What gives you stamina?
GLASER: My core belief that I can only rest or feel good if I’ve suffered first.
INTERVIEW: How many hours a day do you work?
GLASER: I would say about 1-3 if you include all the emailing and phone calls and interviews etc., but if you looked at my google calendar, you’d say about 5-10 with performances and travel. But I don’t count podcasting as work because it’s just me and my friends talking! I don’t count stand-up as work because I’m standing on stage telling jokes! TV isn’t work because I get to be on TV! Hair and makeup is me texting with one eye closed so someone can apply my eyeliner. Sure, maybe traveling every weekend for stand-up shows counts as work, but it’s not like I’m flying the plane. Answering these questions feels like work because I’m having to justify what I do as work and it’s haaaaard!!
INTERVIEW: What is the hardest you’ve worked?
GLASER: Whenever I’ve done a Comedy Central Roast. I’ve done three of them and at the end of every single one I tell my friends to never let me do another one. It ruins my life for the three weeks I have to get ready for them. Not only am I such a bitch during these stints because I have to change the way my mind works in order to think of such cruel jokes, but I also exhaust myself writing and performing. Roasts are the biggest platform for a stand-up comedian outside of dating Kim Kardashian, so I push myself to have the very best set possible, which means writing every day, performing and refining the jokes every night multiple times, and doing lots of crying in between all of it because I think I’m going to bomb. There’s no way to really tell how you’ll do the night of the show because there is no test run for the roast itself. Random audiences are nothing like the roast audiences. It’s much easier for an audience to laugh at cruel jokes about someone when that person isn’t sitting on stage next to me.
INTERVIEW: What makes work fun?
GLASER: Friends. I love a good hang and I’m lucky to be at a stage in my career where I can bring my friends along with me. My two best friends open for me on the road and although they are both talented and their performances add value to the show, the real reason I have them come with me is so that we can all sit around after the show and hang and laugh. It’s also the reason I got into reality television: it’s fun, no one’s trying to be cool, and I don’t have to be around ACTORS. Reality TV keeps you humble, too. No one working in reality TV expects to win critical acclaim. Sometimes we get it, but no one expects it. We’re just in paradise making a show where people fall in love within weeks of meeting. It’s ridiculous and fun and we can’t really control anything so everything that happens is unexpected and thrilling.
INTERVIEW: How do you build stamina?
GLASER: On a long run? I make little bets with myself like, “If you don’t run this next mile in under 8 minutes then you will be replaced on FBoy Island.” I seriously do this kind of thing. I’ve tortured myself with these “tests from god’” since I was a kid. “If you don’t get to the mailbox by the time that red car passes your house then your sister will be kidnapped.” She’s still missing!
INTERVIEW: What counts as hard work?
GLASER: Anything you dread.
INTERVIEW: What holds you back?
GLASER: Imposter syndrome, people pleasing, being tired, fear of failure, fear of criticism, fear of people DM’ing each other clips of me and being like “This is so bad,” nihilism, eating too much and not wanting to put on jeans, feeling pale and old, acne, the baby formula shortage, laziness, depression, never being able to achieve as much as Taylor Swift no matter what I do so what’s the point, not having clearly defined goals, global warming, reading the news, not meditating, a messy room, too much laundry to do, feeling inherently flawed and untalented, comparing myself to my peers, andrealizing there’s a never-ending list of things that hold me back.
INTERVIEW: What’s your dream job?
INTERVIEW: When does it feel like work?
GLASER: When you are already planning what you’ll do when it’s over.
INTERVIEW: What got you in trouble at work?
GLASER: Talking about other people without considering their feelings. I don’t mind sharing every detail of my personal life and sometimes forget my friends and family prefer to have private lives. I also have strong opinions about celebrities and sometimes mouth-off and forget that they are actual people with feelings who have HBO.
INTERVIEW: What’s your favorite workout?
GLASER: A long run where I listen to music and pretend I’m in a movie montage where the lead character is struggling with a decision or preparing for some metaphorical or literal battle.
INTERVIEW: How long can you last?
GLASER: I once ran a half-marathon. It wasn’t official or anything. My brother-in-law and I just ran 13.1 miles one day. I’ll never do a full one because I want to be able to walk when I’m 70.
INTERVIEW: What gets you up?
GLASER: In the morning? My dog having to pee. And also food. I skipped breakfast for 20 years of my life because I thought that’s what women were supposed to do to stay thin and loveable. I started eating breakfast again a couple years ago and forgot what a motivator it was to get out of bed in the morning.
INTERVIEW: What keeps you going?
GLASER: The fear that if I don’t keep going, then someone else will get better than me and take my place and I’ll be forgotten. And then when I’m forgotten, I won’t be able to make money and my family will end up homeless.
INTERVIEW: What makes you tired?
GLASER: Not getting enough sleep. Melatonin, reading, ASMR videos, airplane rides.
INTERVIEW: What keeps you awake?
GLASER: The dread of having to wake up tomorrow morning and start all over again.
INTERVIEW: What makes you sweat?
GLASER: Cardio, telling a joke that offends someone (roasts do not count because those people are literally asking for it).
INTERVIEW: How do you endure?
GLASER: I focus on how good it’s going to feel when it’s over.
INTERVIEW: How do you unplug?
GLASER: I nap. I’ve never received an urgent email in a dream so that’s where I retreat. A great comic named Nick Griffin once called naps “mini suicides” and man oh man did that resonate with me.
INTERVIEW: When do you crash?
GLASER: When I can no longer be witty or kind and I start to feel like a victim and declare to whoever is within ear shot that no one is looking out for me and that no one knows how hard my life is. And then I have to assure my Uber driver that none of this has anything to do with him and I’ll still tip him well and give him 5 stars and thanks for letting me cry in his car and yes, I’m flying Delta. Right here is good, thanks.
INTERVIEW: Where do you want to retire?
GLASER: Somewhere where I can have a refuge for cows, pigs, and chickens that have been rescued from factory farms. There I will produce videos that show off their unique personalities, tenderness, and odd-couple friendships. Then I’ll hire some young person to post those videos to whatever social media platform is monopolizing our nation’s attention so I can try to get people to stop eating them.
INTERVIEW: Has the work paid off?
GLASER: Yes! I get paid more than I think anyone should really get paid doing any job, let alone one where I talk into a microphone about myself, and next week I get to hang out with Conan O’Brien on his podcast. My life is fucking unreal. I should have no complaints, but I have sooo many.
INTERVIEW: What’s the atmosphere like at work?
INTERVIEW: What do you need?
GLASER: Unconditional love, music, and caffeine.
INTERVIEW: What gets you down?
GLASER: Depression, aging, consumerism, fast fashion, animal abuse, selfishness, pollution, plastic bags, greed, the fact that my parents will die someday, and this question.
INTERVIEW: Who do you want to be?
GLASER: Remembered and cherished and hot.
INTERVIEW: What do you want to create?
GLASER: Art that gets people to feel less alone, overcome pain, and be open to change.
INTERVIEW: What do you want to leave behind?
GLASER: I’d like to write one good song before I die. One that makes people feel 1/128th as emotional as I feel listening to 98% of Taylor Swift or Wilco’s catalog. I’d like to leave behind something sincere, which is hard to do as a comedian. I don’t want to leave anything tangible behind. I don’t want anyone to be burdened with going through all my belongings/trash if I die unexpectedly. Actually, now that I think of it, maybe a couple cool shirts to give to my niece Poppy that will remind her of me. This interview is depressing me.
INTERVIEW: What’s worth fighting for?
GLASER: Love. And a window seat on a cross-country flight. That’s the only way I can sleep. I need to lean on that window.
INTERVIEW: What’s your reality?
GLASER: This question hurts my brain and I hate it.