Nikki Glaser knows what you think of her. "You get known as the girl who overshares," says the comedian and podcaster, whose no-limits style has for years provided the most outrageous moments on the celebrity roast circuit. In her comedy specials like "Bangin'" and shows like "Not Safe with Nikki Glaser" and "Welcome Home Nikki Glaser?" she's gone even further, mining her personal life and sexual exploits with a fearless candor.
"I could just be that, and that would be fine," she she told me on "Salon Talks." But, she says, the shock isn't the point. "I'm always trying to keep it very real," she says. "I want my jokes to have a lasting impression. I want them to shift people's way of thinking about something."
Keeping true to her promise to keep it real, Glaser opened up about her decision on egg freezing, on her burgeoning music career post-"Masked Singer," why she's holding out hope for the return of "FBoy Island" and the joy of being "a little cringe sometimes." Glaser's worldwide Good Girl Tour is happening right now. Watch "Salon Talks" with Nikki Glaser here, or read our conversation below.
The following interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
Your most recent HBO special was called "Good Clean Filth," and now you're touring across the world on Good Girl Tour. How are you?
I'm so good. Jay Shetty, or one of those guys on Instagram who's telling you how to live a better life and has piercing blue eyes, told me that at the beginning of the year to once a week write down a list of good things that happened that week and then put it in a bucket or a jar or something. I put it in one of those water containers, the huge ones that say like, "Keep going, girl. You're almost there." I'm not using that for water, so now I'm putting in notes of good stuff that happened this week.
You recently hosted "FBoy Island." Please tell me it's coming back?
"I'm just embracing that part of myself that might actually know what I want."
I do think "FBoy Island" will be somewhere else soon. I don't know anything for sure. Usually, I'm pretty pessimistic about this industry. Every time I get a show and people are like, "Congratulations," I'm like, "It's going to get canceled, so let's all chill." Because every show does, unless you're "Seinfeld" or a limited series. But I do think "FBoy Island" is the one out of all of these times where I'm like, "Oh, I think they're right. It will be somewhere else."
I'm sure I was not alone in thinking it didn't make sense when they took it down.
It's just an indication of how effed up everything is in streaming and television and buyouts and what happens. It was just like, "Wait, the successful show was going. What's happening here? We don't understand." We were confused. But it was so nice to have everyone upset when something goes away. It was a resurgence of, "Oh, people love this."
You do not have all of your eggs in one basket at all. You've got a podcast, you're on tour, you've so many other things I want to ask about.
I have so many eggs, except not much down there anymore. I just went to go freeze them. I'm 38 and I went to go check just how many eggs I have. You just think you're going to defy it. They're going to say, "You have as many eggs as you had when you were 14 or whatever when you have the most." And they're like, "No, your eggs are 38." I'm like, "Ah, damn it." So I'm actually not freezing my eggs. That's one last egg in my basket because what a conundrum that is.
But I love being busy. I love doing projects that are fun. My new litmus is: of course I want to make money, of course I want to make things that are seen. But I don't even watch most of the stuff I do. I just do it for the experience. Obviously, I want people to enjoy it, but I'm stable enough where I like to accept jobs where I'm going to challenge myself or meet new people or just have a really fun day on set. I'm lucky enough now to do that.
I want to get back to the egg freezing. What made you decide against it?
That was huge. There were a couple of factors that led me to even want to do it because I've never really wanted kids. I've always said it's not for me, but I always reserved the right to change my mind about that. I know certain things happen. You meet a certain someone and you're like, "I need to have a baby with this person." I always was like, "I'm not going to write it off." But it's never been something I've wanted. Then I think it was the Jennifer Aniston article that came out, where she said that she regretted not freezing her eggs.
I have a friend, Natasha Leggero, who just had a book that came out. It's about being a parent and being like, "My child's the best!" In that book or in her promotional tour that I saw for it, she was like, "Do what I did. Freeze your eggs when you're 38. Have them when you're 41." I just kept getting all these reminders of, "Do it now, this is the last year." I'm 38 and a half. My birthday's in June.
"I'm not a crier. I'm not someone who gets this emotional about decisions, but I was doing it because of Jennifer Aniston peer pressure."
I was really worried about it, but then I started going through the process. I went and got checked. I was about to pay for the meds, which for one time was $7,000. Not to mention the procedure that I pay for, so it's about $12,000. I have the money to do that, but I just was like, I'm not charging $7,000 at a Walgreens. I can't do it. I just felt weird. Maybe if I get some free CoverGirl stuff out of this, if I got a lot of makeup and body wash and Valentine's Day boxed candy out of it, then yes, worth it.
It was that number that stopped me in my tracks. I thought of all the other things I could do with it. It was really something that I cried a lot about to my doctor. I would go into this clinic for my exams and leading up to it, and there was this Christmas tree with all these ornaments that the kids who had been conceived there made. All the ornaments said something like, "Never give up," and "I exist because my mom still had hope." It's all just trying to give hope for the women in the waiting room that are like, "I want a baby so bad." Not one of those ornaments spoke to me. Not one of them.
I was like, "What am I doing here?" I realized I was really doing it so that if my boyfriend, who I don't want to have kids with now, dies or breaks up with me or I break up with him, if I meet someone else and they insist on having their own baby. That's why I'm doing this — if I meet a guy. I have no problem adopting, if I want a kid. Inside myself, it would be fun. But I do know that men tend to want their own because whatever, narcissism, but also your subconscious. My friends were like, "No, men don't want to adopt." It got in my head that I was just doing this for a future man that didn't exist. So I just decided to not do it. And boy, on the other side of a decision to not freeze my eggs is freedom. Before I was crying about it all the time to my friends. I'm not a crier. I'm not someone who gets this emotional about decisions, but I was doing it because of Jennifer Aniston peer pressure. If I could consider her a peer.
I'm different than most women. I think most women do have a desire to have a baby and be a mother. There's a part of me that feels like there are a lot of people like me that don't. But the majority I would say, and a lot of my friends, do want it, so I just feel like I should too. I think I'm just embracing that part of myself that might actually know what I want, which I'm always questioning.
Nikki, it sounds to me like the way I would feel about buying a gun — I hope I never have to use this, but just in case.
Yes, that was a thing. It was just buying insurance, and that's what everyone said it's like. "It'll give you peace of mind." All I can say is it was not giving me peace of mind. There was no part of me that was like, "I'm in control of my body and getting ready to stab myself every day." It felt like I'm just doing this for a future man that I'm going to resent because he won't adopt with me.
Then I'll go, wait, you know what I'll do if he wants his own kid? It's not like he wants me and his kid, he just wants him in it. We'll pick out some models. That'll be fun. We'll look through a catalog of women together and pick out a donor egg and that'll be a fun thing for us to share as a couple.
You are so good at being intimate and vulnerable and talking about things that are really personal, especially personal to women. Yet, a lot of people know you very superficially as the lady from the roasts, the lady who talks about sex. You've made a name for yourself out of that.
Yeah, I could just be that, and that would be fine.
But that's not who you are. The way that you talk about eating disorders and vulnerability and body image, talking just now about crying over freezing your eggs, is a whole other side of you. I want to know how that's affected your comedy. How is your storytelling evolving?
I want my jokes to have a lasting impression. I want them to shift people's way of thinking about something because that's what the best stand-up has done for me, where it's just suddenly changed the way I look at that thing for the rest of my life or made me feel less alone. That's the goal.
The older I get and the less I care what people think, which is something that wears away as you age. I just know that I feel the best when I share the most. I need to get it out. It benefits me just as much as I feel like it benefits other people. I know that it benefits other people, because I was dying for the celebrities I looked up to to be a little bit more honest when I was in high school. Even now there are disappointments I have in celebrities that I really like because of how fake everything is.
"I feel the best when I share the most. I need to get it out."
I'm always trying to keep it very real and honestly, how it's impacted my career could be negative. Not everyone wants to hear every little aspect of your life. You get known as the girl who overshares. I can't help it. It's the only way for me to process it and get over it. I'm looking towards being a singer-songwriter at some point in my career because it would be potentially a less overt and annoying way of expressing my feelings than stand-up. Stand-up is so direct, so exact and detailed, and I need to be a little bit more nuanced in my messaging or my emotions, but it's something I can't help.
The artists that I'm most attracted to in terms of stand-up are the ones telling you that they've had some sort of breakthrough, where they're not just telling, "Oh, I s**t my pants." That's vulnerable in a way, but they're telling, "I got in a fight with my wife, and this is how I felt about it." That kind of thing where you're like, "Oh, I'm a fly on the wall." Suddenly this is very vulnerable. It's doing it for sake of being interesting, because I know that's what I'm attracted to as a consumer. I'm also doing it for myself because it makes me feel better when I get these things out.
I want to ask you about the singing because it feels like this has been a breakthrough for you. You went on "The Masked Singer." You sang a Kelly Clarkson song and then you went on Kelly Clarkson's show and talked about it. That is next-level bravery.
Bravery or stupidity or a little cringe sometimes. These are the things you risk looking stupid when you try something new. That for me is singing. I'm at an open mic or stage and people shouldn't be seeing this yet, but it was different with "The Masked Singer." It's all a part of the growth. I think it's interesting to see people grow at something they're trying, especially as an adult. I'm letting people in on that, even though it's kind of embarrassing sometimes.
The idea of being a beginner is so powerful.
Yes. And in front of people, but that's the only way I can do it. For whatever reason, I like getting good at something with an audience. It pressures me to get good at it. It puts the pressure on for me to practice more. The way that I got good at stand-up was in front of a crowd, every single time. You can't do stand-up in front of your stuffed animals. You can't do it just telling jokes to your friends. The only way to get good is to go up in front of people and be really bad. You have to be in literal stage one beginner to go on stage for the first time. There's no way that you can prepare for that moment.
With music though, I think it's so much, "Don't put this out, practice in your room and get good by yourself and then debut it." For me, I have way less followers on my podcast Instagram account, so I go live on there and I just practice guitar on there with an audience because it keeps me accountable. I practice way more, and I learn how to perform too, because I'm trying to step it up.
Performing as a singer has been the greatest part about being a beginner at something, at a level where you can practice in front of people. I always tell people, even if you have one person watching on your Instagram, create an account and practice in front of someone. Keep accountable.
"The only way to get good is to go up in front of people and be really bad."
I love showing people that you can improve. I started playing guitar two and a half years ago and I'm good enough that I can sing to play anything and find some way to play it. I would have never thought that. I always thought, you either got it or you don't. You can learn things. Singing, that's something I always thought, "You either have it or you don't. You're born with it or you're not." But your voice is the most complex instrument I'm finding out. That opened up a world to me when I started looking at it as an instrument rather than, are you a singer or not? You can be trained. It's harder for some people and easier for others, but that's a whole world that's opening up to me where I'm like, "I would have started doing this earlier and looked at it this way, but I'm grateful now." I like to be bad at something. I like to be challenged. I think I was really longing for something new to really test me and make me nervous again and get that adrenaline.
When you do something different, it feels really scary. And it does feel like people are going to push back and say, "Oh, that's not you." What would be your advice when to someone who thinks, "I want to be somebody who sings"?
That is such a good question and completely is one that I'm excited to answer because I am someone who always feels like I'm not like the others. I can't do that thing. If you think people are going to judge you a lot, it's probably because you are judging others a lot. My biggest fear is that people talk about me behind my back. They'll screenshot something I'm doing and then they start a chat about me and make fun of me. I know now from being a person who does that, the only reason I ever make fun of someone or go, "Oh, what is she wearing? Oh my God, she thinks she's so hot." Or "Ew, this is so cringe," is because I'm jealous that they are willing to take a risk that I never would.
In order to convince myself that I shouldn't take that risk that I really want to take — I wish I could wear that. I wish I could dress slutty sometimes and post it on Instagram, not give a s**t — in order for me to keep that story in my head of, "That's why you don't do it, Nikki," I need to bully those people in my mind to make myself think, "Well, if you do this to them, they're going to do it to you." As soon as I realized that if someone's making fun of you or what people are going to say it's only because they're insecure. Because I know I only do it when I'm insecure. I was able to let it go a little bit. It still hurts.
I did get made fun of when I released a song about Bob Saget when he died because it was sincere. I knew I would, but it was worse than I thought it would be. It was really embarrassing, and it was fine. It's over now. The only reason that they trash me is because they want to sing so badly. They wish they could sing, but they're comics who have to be tough and make fun of everything, and everything sincere is gay or whatever the hell, but they're desperate to sing. So I look at it that way. I also really just have more gotten into, if I don't know if I want to do something, it's probably because
"My biggest fear is that people talk about me behind my back."
I really like it. It might make me happier. Just take the risk and just know they are talking about you behind your back and live out your biggest fear. Okay, so then your sister makes fun of you with your other siblings. "What is she driving? What is she wearing?" Okay, then what happens? Then they become better friends because of it. I just play it out and I'm like, "I don't want to be friends with them anyway."
Then my biggest secret to doing something you're scared to do is just set a date. Sign up for an open mic, sign up for an art class. Set the stage for something. Spend $300 on a red shirt, do something where you're like, "I can't back out of this. I can't spend that much money on something that I won't wear." Set yourself up so you have to do it down the road and you will not want to kick and scream. Pick something that you feel like you can't weasel out of, and then you just have to do it.
That's how I conquered stage fright. That's how I conquered going up on open mics. Seventh grade, I signed up for a play and I didn't want to do a play. I wanted to so bad, but I used to shake on stage. My knees would shake, my voice would crack. I couldn't handle stage fright, but I knew I wanted to be famous someday. So I just signed up for a play that was happening months later and I was like, "I'll get over it by then." I didn't, but I had to. Once you do it, you realize it's not that bad and then you can do it again and again. It's just that first time.
And if the worst thing that happens is that you were embarrassed, then be embarrassed.
"Every time I go to an award show, I get a little depressed."
It won't kill you. No one's ever died of embarrassment. It really will be OK. People move on from things so fast. It'll be a day of feeling embarrassed, but you will survive it. Believe me, I got first voted off "Dancing With the Stars," and it was something I deeply cared about. I got eliminated from a TV show that is pretty much a popularity contest at the stage that I was at, and I was eliminated first. I was wearing a red sequin dress. I looked like JonBenét Ramsey had she survived and never emotionally developed, and then Tom Bergeron says my name first to go home. No one even cares. First voted off. People are just like, "Get out of here." It was the most embarrassing moment of my life, and I really cared about that show. I know after that I can survive anything. Nothing will compare to that embarrassment in my life, hopefully. It was the best thing that happened to me because it's so funny to be eliminated first. It's not funny at all to be eliminated third, there's no story there. Just throw yourself into getting embarrassed and that's how you realize, oh, I can take more chances.
You're a very success-driven person. What does success or achievement look like to you now at this stage in your life?
Success to me, really is the admiration of my peers or people that I look up to that I think are cool and funny. There are days where I'm like, "Hosting 'SNL' one day would be cool." But that again is a popularity contest.
I was nominated for a Critics' Choice award, which was very cool. It was my first nomination for my HBO special, and I went to the Critics' Choice Awards. I just was looking around, it kind of feels like middle school play. We're all dressing up and pretending that TV and film are so important when really in the scheme of things, no offense, not that much. Art is obviously, it's why we're both here. We love it. Thank you. But every time I go to an award show, I get a little depressed because I see it for what it is. These are just people that want to be liked so bad. It's a popularity contest. I miss my dogs and my niece and nephew. It starts to be like, "What's really important here?"
Success to me is really just getting to work with fun people continually, and staying relevant enough that I can sell tickets, because touring really does make me feel great, and it's a litmus test of if they like me, they really like me, and just being able to make people feel better with my voice in whatever way that is. Through podcasting, I hope to always be able to do that. I don't think I'll ever tire of talking and trying to speak up for people who might feel like they're weird, or just women or just people with anxiety and depression and animals. I'm a vegan, so I think maybe success will be finding a way to weave in vegan activism a little bit more and do something for the world in that way. It's ever-evolving.
"Salon Talks" with comedians