Nikki Glaser has a knack for talking. Whether you know her from her stand-up, her various podcasts and radio shows, or from appearances on The Howard Stern Show or Conan, there is a masterful, borderline stream-of-consciousness way in which she’s able to hold your attention as a storyteller. While it naturally translates to her newest venture, she also wants to try something different as well this time around.
The Nikki Glaser Podcast is a Monday through Thursday podcast that features Glaser and her co-host/roommate Andrew Colin. While many of the personal and intimate revelations that she’s become known for are definitely present here, she also knew that she wanted to add some additional structure to the show right out of the gate. That’s why the podcast, which is produced by iHeartMedia and Will Ferrell’s Big Money Players Network, had segments built in before it even launched. Some of these segments include “Between You and Me,” “You Heard it Here First!,” “Mental Health Moment,” and “Is It Textual? (Or Sexual…).”
Additionally, this week Glaser is hosting the Hall Of Flame: Top 100 Roast Moments on Comedy Central where she and fellow comedians countdown some of your favorite roast moments from decades of past Comedy Central Roasts – and to get ahead of things, Glaser would like it known she had nothing to do with the selection process. So please save the Tweets asking why your favorite moment wasn’t ranked higher.
We recently spoke with Glaser, who is currently filming a secret project in the Cayman Islanda, about her new podcast, finding the structure for the show, what she expects to take away from the experience, her newfound self esteem, all things roasting, how cool Cybil Shepherd was at the Roast of Bruce Willis, her affinity for dark jokes, performing at drive-in’s, moving to St. Louis, and going back on the road.
Podcasting In The Cayman Islands
I’m here filming a TV show that I can’t talk about yet. But it just so happened to take place during the time that I was set to launch my podcast. So I got to bring my podcast co-host down here with me. We quarantined for two weeks, we’re living in the Cayman Islands, and today’s the first day of our podcast. We’ve just been ramping up for this daily thing that will be a part of my life for at least the next couple of years every day.
Doing A Daily Podcast
You know, in talking about doing a new podcast and going somewhere other than where I was before and starting over with a new network – which happened to be iHeartMedia, which was one of the best decisions I’ve made recently – I could’ve done any show that I wanted to do. I didn’t have to fight for it, but I was adamant about wanting to do a daily show. Because I love consistency in the type of shows that I want to make. My favorite talk audio experiences are really radio. Morning shows, like Loveline, Stern, Opie and Anthony. These were all the shows that I really fell in love with this medium through. So I wanted to have something in the podcast world that could exist like a daily radio show.
I do realize the commitment, but honestly, I’m not a perfectionist when it comes to podcasting. This show is going to be a lot more structured than the meandering comedy conversation podcasts of my past. However, it’s not something that I’m going to have to do a lot of writing for. I have producers now to carry so much of the work part of it. So I can just show up and go. So it’s honestly not that much work. And the work is I would say 98% awesome and 2% good. It’s just a great job. I love doing something every day. I’m a very compulsive person, especially when it comes to something that I’m trying to be really great or possibly the best at in the field, which is always the aim for someone who’s a perfectionist, even though perfection doesn’t exist. But I have that compulsion to want to be great, and I know that the only way to be great is to do it so much.
And a daily show is also my way of reaching Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours so I can be an expert. And I’ve done a daily radio show before. I did one for SiriusXM for over two years that was four days a week and a two hour show. This is only an hour show. And that one required a commute on the train to my work and a lot more hours just in terms of showing up to do it. And this one I can do in my living room, with my best friends. And it just fits perfectly into my life. It’s a dream come true. It sounds so cliche, but it really is. I’m kind of pinching myself at my life right now.
Finding The Rhythm
I think we’re going to find a rhythm, as podcasts always do. This is a first season show. So we’re going to find our footing. It’s going to look totally different 20 episodes down the line. 200 episodes down the line it’ll look even more different. But there’s a lot that went into trying to make it as good as it can be out of the gate. And one of the things that we’ll perfect over time is when people want to receive it and listen to it and how we do it. I’d love to do it in the morning, but that means we’re doing it the day before. My ideal is live. I love live radio. We can’t do that. There’s got to be a turnaround. So for us right now, an evening podcast coming out around 9 PM Eastern is what we’re settling on. So if people are insomniacs, they can pop it on. Or they can listen to it first thing in the morning and already know that it’s last night’s news. So we’ll find a rhythm.
We structure it as a current events show both in my personal life and the world. And things of interest. And talking about stuff that people might disagree with, which is terrifying to me right now to say anything that might hurt someone’s feelings. But I’m also coming out with this podcast to learn and walk out of it a better person. So I want it to be very listener interactive and troll interactive. (Laughs). Just kidding. I’ll be blocking anyone who’s making fun of my looks, despite being in radio.
I also wanted to say, I did the daily radio show. The compulsion part of it, the OCD part… which I’m not tossing out that term. I really do have addictive behaviors when it comes to working. So much like stand-up… I did stand-up every night of my life before the pandemic for 17 years. And you know, I’d say 5 nights a week it probably translated to, but given how many sets I could squeeze into a night, I think I was doing it every single night for 17 years. So when the pandemic hit, I wasn’t having that outlet or that place to scream about my feelings every day. Whether or not it was actually about what I was feeling, it’s just a great way to process your feelings that I don’t really do in any other sense, because I don’t really cry. I’m not a good cryer. I’m not a good feeler in general. But I am able to get some of those feelings out through broadcasting. I just feel more honest and more free when I’m on mic.
So I moved my weekly podcast to daily over the quarantine, because I was gearing up for this podcast, which I knew was not going to be happen logistically until the Spring. So I said “You know what? Let me warm up for that. See what I like and what I don’t like in doing an hour show every day.” And I learned a lot by doing that weekly show. And I needed it. Without stand-up, I was going crazy in COVID and without knowing why. And the reason was I wasn’t expressing my feelings about what was going on when I needed it more than ever. I wasn’t doing Zoom stand-up. Literally I bought a karaoke machine for my parents house – I was living with my parents – and would sing Taylor Swift songs every morning to get my feelings out. It was just something I was compelled to do, not really knowing why I was wanting to do it. I started playing guitar. I needed an expression because stand-up was taken from me. And then I go “Oh wait. I can do a daily podcast.” And what a relief, even though I really went through a massive depression live on my podcast during the summer.
I’ve done things and said things on a podcast that I regret. I’ve taken chances that I will take again and some that I won’t. I’m still learning how to do this. But I do want to be, you know, Stern level great some day. I love radio. And this is just one of the many steps of my career to master it. But this one’s really big. Having the support of iHeart behind me was a hard decision to make. Whether to do something independently or go with a company. And I’m so glad that I went with a corporation because they’ve let me do whatever I want. And I feel like I got that Louis FX deal kind of thing. Where it’s like “We know you’re great. We trust you. Hire who you want. We’ll just facilitate everything.”
I really wanted to treat this like a show. It’s my ideal show. I’ve done many TV shows and I know how you start that process and how you approach it. And we kind of took that approach. I didn’t want to wing it. I’m such a winger. I wing everything. And people don’t know this about me. They think I’m such a hard worker. And that is something people say about me all the time. And I truly don’t feel it.
Like my effort is doing. I could do a weekly podcast, right? And instead of doing a daily podcast, I could just do a weekly one and then do four test ones. Still getting in my 10,000 hours, but not having all that crap on my way to perfecting the one thing out there. But for me, I don’t practice. I’m a bad practicer. I don’t like being bad at something. I don’t like looking over it and editing it. The worst periods of my life have been editing comedy specials and looking at footage and editing myself. I’m someone that once I do something, it’s gone. That’s why I love stand-up. There’s no like record of it. You don’t have to go back and look and toil over your performance. I’d be a much better performer if I did all that stuff, but because I work that way, I need to always be making something. Because otherwise, I won’t prepare. I only work when the camera light is on. When I’m on air. That is when I show up. I show up minutes before my sets. I literally sit down at my computer to do my podcasts 20 seconds before we go on air. I just like to run into things kind of blindly.
So for me, I need other people to carry the other stuff. Like hey, let’s make segments. Let’s have some organization. The things that I enjoy about podcasts, I’m not able to recreate on my own without people who are good at that. I’m not good at organizing. I’m not good at sticking to a schedule or sticking to a time. Wrapping up by the end of the segment. I learned how to pull back when I was doing SiriusXM radio, where you have to like hit a mark. Podcasts are much more free. But I wanted to have some restraints in this way. And also to come out of the gate with segments. Segments are always my favorite part of a podcast. Jimmy Pardo’s Never Not Funny. Whenever you turn on his podcast, you know that if you’re bored by what they’re talking about, five minutes later, they’re going to be doing something else. It’s fast paced. I have ADD. I don’t like slow moving things. I don’t want long stories. If people don’t like what they hear, they can just hit the skip button a couple of times, and jump into something else. And that’s what I wanted to offer.
So who knows. Maybe one day I’ll see the segments as something I’m tied down to and won’t feel as free. But for right now, they’re really working for me. And they’re built in content. I don’t have to rely on “What am I feeling today?” Because I’ll tell you, when you go into a podcast like “I have to fill an hour and I literally have no segments”, you just start reading your diary. And that becomes a little too much sometimes and can really fray your personal relationships because you had some dead air and you decided to tell a secret that you know you shouldn’t because losing that friend is maybe not as bad as having lots of people sitting in their rental cars listening to Sirius hear you say “um” and “like” a bunch thinking of the next topic.
Expectations For The Podcast
I’m just expecting to have a better life because of it, and feel more connected to my creativity. I’m actually doing it because I want to be more happy and connected to people. And I want to make the world a better place. I know that sounds so bad. And I never once identified as someone who makes the world a better place because I make people laugh. Comedy – for me and this doesn’t go for every comedian, but I actually think it does – is born from wanting people to like me because I don’t feel like I’m enough. And now that I’m starting to feel like I’m enough, what compels me now to make things in this business is “Is this going to make me happier so that I can do more good for the world in some other way that doesn’t involve comedy? And is it going to improve my life and make me a better person so I’m better for my family and my friends? And it’s not work that’s going to make me worse to be around. And it also is a conduit for me to engage in conversations and share ideas through my late night reddit binges that maybe people wouldn’t have seen otherwise.”
So I honestly do see it as something that, not just because it’s going to make people laugh and forget about their day, but maybe introduce ideas that will make the world a kinder place. That is my hope. And maybe learn new ideas from people that I have on. Because I want it to be that. I really do. While also making really dark jokes the whole time.
[I’m] never stepping away from the worst jokes. Within reason, because it’s a mine field about what you can say. Because I worry about being canceled about jokes that I might make because I have a really dark sense of humor that has gotten me in trouble way before cancel culture. I was like a really quiet kid. Never wanted to be in trouble. Such a good girl. And I would sometimes say things to my parents that would make them look at each other like “What the hell is wrong with you?” Because it would be so dark and so just morose. A thing that a really funny depressed person says. But it would be ironic because it’d be coming from this little bleached-blonde headed, blue-eyed energetic child. But I was quiet and I would say some really weird shit. I can’t even remember the times. I literally blocked them out because the shame was so hard.
So my biggest fear is being cancelled. And I hate shocking people or making people feel bad in any way. I just want people to like me and to get along. So when I make these dark jokes, it’s obviously a way for me to process it. And also, I’ve had to really think about cancel culture and how I feel about it and if it comes for me, what I would do or what I would say. And all I know that I can do – literally there’s nothing I can do – but what I think I might be able to control is how I feel about myself, no matter what anyone else thinks about me. And I continue now going forward making the same dark jokes and being smarter about them in ways that won’t hurt people. If it’s funny enough and I’m given the chance to say it at a roast – where people sign up to have things said about them – then yeah. I’ll go as dark as I can.
But I just want to make stuff now where the inspiration is either to better myself so I’m happier and can do more good things for the people I care about and even strangers I don’t care about, or to do good. I have to live through that lens now, because I haven’t been up until this point.
Newfound Self Esteem
I’m suddenly someone with self esteem. And as a comedian with self esteem, you have to restructure. You think COVID can change you. Stand-up’s are like “Oh my God. COVID. You never thought that stand-up could be taken from you.” And it’s like “Okay. COVID or working on yourself enough that you like yourself.” And that could really pull the rug out from under you comedically.
People don’t go to therapy not because they’re stubborn or stupid. But just because it’s too scary. And I understand that. I’ve been lucky enough to start it early enough that the avalanche of stuff to uncover didn’t take me out. I didn’t do it all at once. So there are comics that don’t want to get on anti-depressant. But I will say that even though I have self esteem much better than I ever have, I still remember what it’s like to not. And that person’s still inside me that has these thoughts.
People always ask me how I can write such mean roast jokes. And I didn’t know what to say, because I really didn’t know. And then I realized it’s because I have been roasting myself for my entire life. I have been saying the meanest, most creative things. And just specific insults to myself in the mirror since I knew that being attractive got you things in life. I don’t know when you realize that. 11? And so that’s when I started roasting myself. I have roast jokes written for myself that literally would be the jokes of the roast if I gave them to other comics to do because they’re so specific and good. A couple comics have gotten that close to the specificity of the roast that I could do of myself.
But everything comes from a place of insecurity. And I can still access that, because I was there for so long. And I still go there a lot.
Roasts are the best, though, because it’s just jokes. You don’t have to sit through exposition or character development. It’s just joke, joke, joke. Watching [Mitch] Hedberg or Steven Wright. Those are kind of my favorite comics. Dan Monty, Anthony Jesselnik. Give me more jokes per minute than you think I can handle. That’s what I love about roasts. And the Bob Saget roast with Norm MacDonald just going full sincere. They weren’t even jokes. They were all puns. They were jokes your dentist would make to make you more comfortable. They were so bad and people were confused. And it was so brilliant. I love Norm MacDonald. That was performance art. And Patrice O’Neal also had a very memorable set at the roast of Charlie Sheen.
And then the women of roasts have always been, for me, some of the very best. Lisa Lampanelli, Whitney Cummings, Amy Schumer, Natasha Leggero, Sarah Silverman. I’m in a group of women where I feel like one of those girls at the Academy Awards. “I don’t deserve to be here!” Same with these women. I looked up to them so much and have studied so many clips leading up to my performances.
Never Nervous To Roast Anyone
People sign up to do it and they know what they’re in for. And if they don’t, then they haven’t done their research. There’s so many roasts that they could’ve watched on YouTube and seen how vicious it gets. So I never feel like “Oh, I’m nervous about saying this to that person.” Well, I don’t want to say never because there are certain jokes where I go “This might suck to sit next to this person for the rest of the night.” Because I always go first. Which I love because I can split an edible with Ed Norton and enjoy the rest of the show after we’re done with our sets and have a really good time. It’s so fun to be done with your set right away. But in doing that, you’ve also just insulted these people that you have to hang out with all night. And they’re all onstage without their handlers. So we’re all alone. You’re sitting with Martha Stewart with no assistants, no people checking on us. And the commercial breaks are as long as actual commercial breaks.
But I really would put it all out of my mind until the second before and I saw the people. When I was writing the jokes and preparing, there’d be no part of me that was thinking their feelings or that I had to say this to their faces. And I think that was probably a defense mechanism.
Roasting Cybil Shepherd
I remember saying jokes about Cybil Shepherd that I felt bad about afterwards because she was just so kind to me. And there were maybe some about her weight, and that just felt like gross to me and her age. I don’t remember the jokes specifically, but I guarantee you they are funnier than they are cruel. And maybe I wouldn’t tell them now, because I am more sensitive about certain things like that. But I’m sure they were really, really good jokes. And guess what. If I was a woman who showed up – and I definitely would kill for Cybil Shepherd’s body when I’m her age. She’s stunning – I would think “Will I do a roast when someone could maybe say I’m fat?” I hope so. But anyway I apologized to her afterwards. I remember that. And she was like “Oh, I don’t care.” She was cool as hell.
And then there were other people where you hear “Oh, they might get upset if you talk about this subject.” So I don’t talk about it. Because I don’t want to make someone run offstage because that just means I have to wait longer for the after party where I can relax and take my shoes off. Like I don’t want to cause drama that’s going to get me headlines like, “She upset Martha Stewart so much that she ran offstage.” I don’t want that. That’s never my intention. My intention is to go out there and absolutely be undeniably perfect. That is like my Olympics. I treat that like my balance beam act in the Olympics. Even when you compare it to anything else, like specials. I work very hard on specials. But roasts are the Olympics. So I don’t know why I do them every year instead of every four years.
Hosting the Hall of Flame: Top 100 Roast Moments
I got asked to do this and I said yes because it was a shoot that I could do at my apartment, because of COVID. So they just set up a camera in my living room. And I’m going to be bookending and introducing 100 different clips from roasts, which is such a fun thing to watch all day on Comedy Central. What a cool thing to do. They own all this amazing footage and all these incredible jokes and performances. You have to sift through on YouTube. And they did a really great job with the list.
I had nothing to do with the list, I want to make that clear. I didn’t even get the script until the morning of. And I didn’t have time to read all of them, because there was a guy that I had to let into my apartment to shoot these reads that end up not really fitting with the show. I’ve seen the promos and it looks like I am shooting a Britney Spears Instagram post more than a cable network multi-night event. So it’s kind of funny. So I don’t know how it’s going to turn out. I was just reading a promoter. And yes, as I went along, I would try to make the jokes in my voice.
And the writer that wrote the jokes, I want to give him a shoutout. DC Pierson. He wrote this script. And a lot of times when you’re coming in to read a script, I’m too busy to actually write it. So I just come in and trust what they give me. Comedy Central hires great people. But he wrote this whole script, and I didn’t see it until the day of. And I was just going to go on the fly. And I was just planning on having my friends sit in with me and rewrite it if I didn’t like it. But it was just so funny. DC Pierson is just an amazing comedy writer. I was impressed with him.
Performing At Drive-In’s
It was hard. Once I started talking and grabbed the microphone and started talking, it was easy breezy. Well… I won’t say easy breezy. The shows themselves weren’t as scary as I had built up. But I had never taken that big of a break from stand-up proceeding those shows. And you’re doing it in a different kind of environment. And the environment was scary as far as remembering my material. And I gotta be honest, because I’m not someone who practices even when I need to (laughs), in this case I needed to prepare more. And I wasn’t able to do that because my preparation is doing it. And there was nowhere to do it. There was nowhere to go to clubs to work this stuff out. There was Zoom shows, but even that made me too scared to do it. So I prepared as much as I could and had fun.
They didn’t feel to me like stand-up had felt in the past. I always wanna give my best performances because people are paying a lot to see me now. And there’s always a lot of pressure to give them the night that they’re expecting. And so for me to do my best and earn that ticket price, I really have to be doing it consistently.
But I didn’t enjoy doing stand-up during quarantine or when I wasn’t able to do it [frequently]. I’m either all in or all out. I can’t do in-between. So although I had a lot of fun with the people I brought on the road and the people I met on the road and I’m so grateful for the fans coming out, it just wasn’t the same. Comedy needs to be people in close quarters, smooshed together, with low ceilings. Everything that’s bad for COVID. And it doesn’t mean that it can’t still be fun without those things. But for me, I don’t know. And I closed with a song, because it’s like “This just doesn’t feel like comedy.” Like I sang a song with my dad. I brought my dad on the road and closed all my shows with a duet where we sang Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “Shallow.” But instead of it being a song about being in love, we rewrote the lyrics and made it about me living at home. And it was really fun. It is something that I would never do. Because I always want to be such a purist when it comes to stand-up and not do musical comedy. But man, it lit something up in me where it’s like “I love doing music onstage.” So that’s why I’m now currently trying to learn guitar.
Moving Back to St. Louis
I moved to St. Louis permanently. I will be tempted to go to New York or L.A. to really get in those shows. But there’s two clubs in St. Louis and I know that I can go into both and get onstage at least twice a night between the two of them if I want. And I could just go start a coffee shop show. So I’ll have to make the shows to feel like I’m not missing out on the New York scene. Because I’m scared of when things open up and how I might be drawn back to New York or L.A., because I’m really enjoying St. Louis. But I might have to go back just to get those sets in.
Going Back On The Road
I’m excited that I’m going to be going on tour this summer, hopefully. If all things go as scheduled. But I’m gonna go on tour again to theaters and work up to taping a special at the end of the year. And I don’t know what that material is, yet. Some of it might be what I was working on before, but a lot has changed. And the pressure’s on to get it out there and get it ready. But I will be ready for that because I am going to start doing some Zoom shows and just going up hopefully in places that are safe.
The Nikki Glaser Podcast can be found here or wherever you get your podcasts.