If Nikki Glaser looks familiar to you, it’s likely for one of the following reasons:
1) The 31-year-old comedian’s popped up in several of pal Amy Schumer’s projects, including Trainwreck and Inside Amy Schumer.
2) Glaser’s been performing stand-up around the country — including at New York’s Comedy Cellar — since the age of 18.
3) You’ve blearily caught her erstwhile late-night MTV show, Nikki & Sara Live, or you’ve seen her on Comedy Central’s @Midnight.
4) You faintly recall her supporting role in the now-infamous Jennifer-Lawrence/Amy-Schumer human pyramid.
Now, though, Glaser is aiming to elevate her status to (adult) household name with a boldly sexual and unfiltered Comedy Central series, Not Safe With Nikki Glaser, which premieres on the network tonight. Not Safe is, at its most basic level, a show about sex. But it’s also a show about love, dating, and relationships, aimed at empowering women and addressing Glaser’s own insecurities. Glaser describes the series as unapologetically frank and funny, a place to “discover, ogle, and laugh about all things sex” through panels, field pieces, social experiments, and audience participation. Its 10-episode first season premieres tonight on Comedy Central, and promises to “examine and discuss the things people do, the things people think about doing, and the things people would never do (but their friends just might).”
We caught up with the self-described “curious perv” before the show’s premiere to talk about that particular qualifier, how she handles misogynist criticism from “stupid” men, and whether her parents can stomach her sex-centric comedy.
So you call yourself a “curious perv” in your press materials for this show. Can you elaborate on that?
[Laughs.] Yeah. Pretty much they didn’t want to call me a straight-up perv. That sounds too harsh, I guess. So they added “curious” to soften the image. [Laughs.] I think the curiosity is just — I’m titillated and not really that shocked by anything, and I like hearing about immature and sexual and sometimes gross and perverted things. I don’t judge, I’m not squeamish. I don’t clutch my pearls. I’m down for anything, I love hearing about anything. [“Curious perv”] is what my boyfriend, who helped co-create the show with me, described me as, and I was like, “Oh, that’s actually very complimentary.” It makes it seem kind of cute, how pervy I am. But I guess I’m [affects British accent] a “naughty girl.” Saying I’m a naughty girl is one of the grossest things I’ve ever said. So I’d prefer you not publish that. You can publish that I just said that about myself, that it’s the grossest thing I’ve ever said.
Noted. When did you first realize you were a more-curious perv than the average curious perv?
I think it was a slow build. I didn’t become a sexual person until the age of 25, when I first had a serious boyfriend and got comfortable with sex. I think it takes awhile sometimes for girls to be comfortable with their sexuality. Once I embraced it and became comfortable, I just got into it. And it was great. Because I’d been prudish for so long that I kind of went wild — not promiscuous, but within my relationship, I wanted to try a bunch of stuff. I also have a sense of humor about sex, so I think that’s part of the perviness. I like to do funny things in bed, like pretend his dick is a hose and I’m a fireman and the hose is out of control and I’m like, “Whooooa!” Like, just funny stuff, but also extremely inappropriate.
It’s not that I’m a sex vixen. I really don’t know what I’m doing most of the time and I like to be silly about it. I’m always trying new things and down for new stuff, but I’m totally intimidated a lot of the time. The show’s great for me because I get to have a camera crew behind me, protecting me, going into all these worlds. I don’t have to be scared. It’s pretty great.
What are some of the worlds you’re gonna go into?
I went to a foot-fetish party. I’m going to a pegging class to learn how to peg. I want to check out orgy situations, nudist colonies, swingers clubs. I want to go to frat houses. I want to talk to all sorts of different people. I did a piece where I wanted to find my boyfriend a girlfriend. [Laughs.] We’ve been talking about maybe doing an open relationship, and I was like, “Okay, what would that be like? I’d want to pick her out.” So I interviewed a bunch of girls to meet my boyfriend. That’d be something I’d have a hard time doing without cameras around, but with the support of my staff, it was quite a fun process. Still nerve-wracking, because it was done with total sincerity and it’s something we’re going through with — he’s gonna go on a date with the girl we found — but it was a lot easier to do with the support of a show, saying “I’m doing it for the show.” I got a show so I could do all this stuff, pretty much.
Good for you.
Thanks! I’m getting sent tons of vibrators and stuff. It’s great. I get to try all these new things under the guise of, “I gotta try it for the show, babe!” It’s pretty sweet. I’m sitting on a vibrator right now. No, I’m not. But I could be.
Female comics are speaking up about sex and sexuality a lot more than they used to, and Amy Schumer, for example, talks a lot about the double standard that engenders. She’s often labeled a “sex comic” for talking about sex, whereas male comics have been talking about sex for decades and they’re just “comics.” Have you experienced that type of labeling? And does it bug you?
It’s something you can’t avoid as a female comic. If you mention your period once, you’re defined as a hack female comic. If you talk about sex, you’re a sex comic. I do talk about sex a lot — maybe people are right to call me a sex comic. [Laughs.] I don’t give a shit. That’s what I’m interested in right now, and I plan on being interested in other things when I start not having sex as much or not thinking about it as much.
And guess what? I’m not having a lot of sex right now because I’m executive-producing a show. So maybe moving forward, there won’t be a lot of material about sex. For right now, that’s what I think is funny. It’s always men who are saying this about women; it’s never women saying it. Men can say what they want to make us feel [small], but I know I have great taste in comedy and I’m smarter than most men who are judging these comedians, on Reddit or wherever they say that shit. My favorite comedians are the ones who they’re calling sex comics.
It makes me so angry. I invite it, though. I love when people are stupid. If you call me a sex comic, or Amy Schumer a sex comic, you’re an idiot. You’re simple, you’re not listening, and you don’t get it. You’re sexist. You don’t deserve to listen to us. My whole comedy career I’ve never really felt victimized because I’m a female comic; I’ve never felt being a woman has made me any less of a comic until I started reading things that’ve been written about Amy or, more recently, myself. Why wouldn’t we talk about sex, when all men talk about [regarding women] is sex? That’s all we are to you. And the second we talk about it, about ourselves, it’s a problem? It’s so hypocritical.
Is this show for women who’ve felt victimized, who feel they can’t talk about sex? Is it innately feminist?
It’s from my point of view and I consider myself a feminist, so it’ll obviously have that tone because it’s coming from me. I don’t have an agenda. My agenda is just to make it funny. I definitely want to make women feel good about themselves through the show, but I also want to make men feel good about themselves. It’s a show that’s meant to make people feel less shame about their sex lives, and what they’re into. And to not feel bad about not knowing what they’re doing in bed. Because I didn’t really figure it out until, like, yesterday, I think. I still don’t know what I’m doing. I hope to learn something from the show, as well. I hope it just makes people feel less alone with their weirdness and awkwardness. I think we all feel awkward when it comes to sex.
There’s a movement happening right now in the comedy world, what with Beth Stelling speaking out about an abusive relationship with a male comedian and women in the L.A. comedy scene standing up to widespread sexual harassment and assault. You’ve been in this industry since you were 18. What’s your take on all of this? What’s been your experience with it?
I’m cheering those women on. I’m so supportive of them. I’ve been lucky in the sense that I haven’t been [physically harassed]. I mean, I have been harassed on Twitter by men and women. The nature of what you’re doing as a comedian — you’re speaking your mind, you’re saying controversial things — so people are going to be angry about it. To protect myself recently, I’ve decided to not read anything anyone says about me, good or bad. It’s difficult; you want to reach out to people saying nice things. But to read the nice things, you have to read the bad, so I’m gonna try to not read anything. It’s the only way to have a healthy sense of self in this business.
It’s just so easy to have a stranger make you feel terrible about yourself. Little things have already bummed me out so much — having someone question your morality, or question whether you’re a feminist, whether you’re a good person. One little tweet, you know? I can’t risk my self-esteem on one tweet affecting my whole day, or throwing me off for an entire week. But my dad will still send me things. [Laughs.]
Speaking of which, how do your parents feel about your material? Does it weird them out to hear you talk about sex so graphically, or are they cool about it?
They’re so used to it now. I’ve been doing it for 12 years. They’re so supportive. They’re heard me talk about sex on stage for so long, and they’re so excited about the show. They know that I’ve finally found a show that I should be doing, that’s very much my voice, that I’ve worked hard to get to this point and I’ve found something that — given the fact that it’s something that’s very me — should last awhile. They’re psyched.
How are you planning to get your audience involved on Not Safe?
Through social media, we want them involved. We want them to send us their stories, and to come on the show. We want people’s stories from their lives, to share — you know, I’m sharing a picture of my disgusting foot on TV on the premiere. I honestly might rather share a picture of my open vagina than this picture of my foot. So I’m gonna ask them, “Please share a picture of your mangled foot with me. Don’t make me feel alone.” I’m putting myself out there and I’m gonna ask other people to put themselves out there, too. I’m taking the “hashtag no makeup” to a new level. We’ll see what happens. I’m really putting it all out there. And I hope I don’t live to regret it.
Not Safe With Nikki Glaser premieres tonight at 10:30 p.m. Eastern.