Nikki Glaser is committed to comedy.
After transferring from CU-Boulder to the University of Kansas, she lied to her professors to get excused from class (for four weeks!) to tape a part for NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.” She moved to Los Angeles right after college and quickly began climbing the comedy ladder, appearing at prestigious festivals such as Just for Laughs in Montreal and on late-night talk shows like “The Tonight Show.”
These days the 27-year-old is living in New York and co-hosting the “You Had to Be There” podcast with comedian Sara Schaefer, and the show just got some high-profile love from The New York Times Magazine.
What made you want to get into comedy?
I started comedy my freshman year of college. I went to CU Boulder, actually! I kept hearing from friends that I should do stand-up. I had never gotten this before in my life, but I went to college and came out of my shell for the first time, and I guess used humor as a way to make new friends. After enough people told me I should try it, I signed up for a stand-up showcase on campus. I started writing jokes instead of studying for finals. I had two months to prepare.
The show was at Old Main on the CU campus and I performed about five minutes, which at the time felt like an hour. It went really well. My friends were all there. My friend Catherine held up her phone so my dad could listen from St. Louis. Getting those laughs that night was the best feeling I had ever felt (I was a virgin at the time). Actually, it’s still the best feeling I’ve ever felt… I have been chasing the high from that first set ever since.
What’s a joke you used to love to tell but now can’t stand?
I used to say some pretty awful things on stage because I was trying to be Sarah Silverman. However, I didn’t have her skill or likability, and some of my material would just came across as mean. One of my first bits was about JonBenét Ramsey (I know) and how it’s terrible about what happened to her, but a tiny part of me is okay with it because if she were alive today, she’d be super pretty, and I don’t need that competition.
What’s the worst thing you’ve ever felt bad laughing about?
My roommate recently told me that her friend fell out of a tree house last weekend. I laughed. Then she said, “she’s paralyzed now.” That was awkward. But seriously, c’mon adults, unless you’re trying to save a redwood from loggers stay out of tree houses.
What are the best/worst shows you can remember having recently? Or ever?
The worst show was the one time I told that JonBenét Ramsey joke. The audience was appalled. After the show, a girl came up to me yelling and said that Jean Benet was her cousin. She was drunk and crying. I felt bad. I told her, “It’s just a joke. And I’m sorry about what your aunt and uncle did, but that’s not my fault.”
What’s your favorite non-comedy thing to do? Your biggest non-comedy influence?
My favorite non-comedy thing to do is hang out with friends, smoke pot, laugh, listen to music, and ski. ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Denver is probably the best place to do this.
My biggest non-comedy influence is Jennifer Aniston. I have bought every product she’s ever put her name on. Her perfume smells like a grandmother dipped in ammonia, but I wear it every single day. I might even consider flossing regularly if she endorsed it.
What’s your favorite joke of the moment? (yours)
I have a joke about pubic hair maintenance that has been making people laugh despite themselves. When I get laughs, I know a crowd can relate to what I’m talking about, and there’s nothing greater than a girl on a first date admitting publicly with laughter that she has disturbingly long hair between her ass cheeks.
What’s your favorite joke of the moment? (someone else’s)
My podcast co-host, Sara Schaefer, has a joke about female ejaculation that is brilliant. In the bit, she may or may not call herself “splash mountain.” It’s a gorgeous, revealing, empowering joke. I love it.
What’s new with the podcast?
We made a pilot (named after the podcast) for a late-night comedy talk show for MTV. Hopefully, we will be on TV in the fall. We are waiting to hear on it now.
Any Denver stories you want to share from your time at CU?
I am really excited to perform in Denver. Not only did I go to school in Boulder my freshman year (I transferred to University of Kansas my sophomore year), but Denver was the setting of my first stand-up comedy show. I went to see Dave Chapelle at the Fillmore in the spring of 2003. It was right around the time when I was preparing for my first show on the CU campus. “Chapelle’s Show” wasn’t even on air yet. I only knew Chapelle from my favorite romantic comedy, “You’ve Got Mail.” I thought going to see this loveable guy would be the perfect intro into stand-up comedy. I had no idea what it would be like.
So I took a bus from Boulder downtown to see him BY MYSELF. I got really lost and ended up running around downtown looking for the theater. When I got there, I was literally the only white person at the show.
An awesome group of hip black 30-somethings adopted me to sit with them and we had a blast. The show was incredible and like nothing I’d ever seen before or since. I remember at the end, Dave invited women on stage to dance. That’s when I bailed. I love the idea of dancing, but it’s hard to get me to do it. I only dance under the same circumstances that people are advised to do mushrooms under: with people you trust, out in the wilderness.
John Wenzel is an A&E reporter and digital media editor for The Denver Post and the author of “Mock Stars: Indie Comedy and the Dangerously Funny” (Speck Press/Fulcrum). Follow him @johntwenzel and @beardsandgum.