Billy Eichner on His New Girl Guest Role and Wanting to Take Taylor Swift Around New York

Photo: Michael Buckner/Getty Images

The New Girl holiday episode is upon us, and with it, a tradition almost as old as the season itself: chaos at the airport. Billy Eichner guest-stars as an airplane rep at LAX where, wouldn’t you know it, the gang winds up spending quite a bit more time than they anticipated as they try to make it to their various Christmas destinations (or, in Schmidt’s case, just into that first-class lounge). The Billy on the Street shouter and recurring Parks and Recreation character talked to Vulture about tweeting from the sky, watching porn and Meryl Streep movies, his current pop-culture obsessions, and what he would do in New York for a day with fellow New Yorker Taylor Swift.

Have you ever been in a situation like this? Stranded at the airport, enduring some horrible holiday travel?
I had the worst travel story that ever happened to me happen this year — and I travel a lot now, based on whatever show I’m filming, I bounce back between L.A. and New York. I had a travel nightmare when I was promoting the most recent season of Billy on the Street. We had a screening and premiere at SXSW in Austin, and I had to be in New York the next morning to be on the Today show live with all of the anchors. It was literally everyone. We had a whole thing planned. I was going to do a bit with all of them: Matt Lauer, Al Roker, even Kathie Lee and Hoda, too! It was my first time on the Today show, and obviously it’s live. It was all set up for my flight to get me into New York at 10 or 11, and I’d sleep a decent amount and then do the Today show at the crack of dawn. But I just missed my flight in Austin; it was the worst, because the plane was still there, and it was so frustrating, they closed the doors and wouldn’t let anyone else in. So I ended up taking a plane from Austin to Washington, D.C., and then chartering a van to drive me from D.C. to New York, and I literally got to Manhattan to my hotel at 6 a.m., ran upstairs, took a shower, drank a Red Bull, and went right to the Today show live.

Do you remember how the show went, or was it all a blur?
What’s funny is, I realized later, maybe being completely delirious is the best way to be interviewed by Kathie Lee and Hoda. It was one of my best experiences on a talk show. I was so loose and overtired, I had no energy to be nervous. I’d always wanted to do this show because I loved them. It was so comfortable. We were fast friends. I think it was just the fact that I was so loopy. I’m happy I didn’t get them in trouble.

Do you need a drink or two before you get on a plane?
I like to drink, but I do not like to be drunk on a plane. I am not one of those people. I can be a bit of a nervous flyer. Now I’m so used to it, but what I need now on a plane, or I freak out, is Wi-Fi. That becomes my pacifier. If there’s turbulence, I need to be able to go on Twitter and talk about how I’m going to die, and that makes me feel a lot better. People are responding to you in real time. They’re always like, “Don’t die, Billy!” This fave could be the last thing I ever do. There’s been a few instances when I didn’t have Wi-Fi and I didn’t know until I got on the flight, and it makes me really uptight. I do not like not having Wi-Fi in general, but certainly not on a plane. I fall apart. It’s sad, but it’s true.

One theme of tonight's episode is the issue of meeting your significant other’s family over the holidays. It’s really pressure-squared: the pressure of the season and the pressure of impressing someone else’s parents. Have you ever been in that situation?
I remember meeting an ex’s family, maybe over July 4th. It wasn’t a Christmas situation. I’m Jewish, and Hanukkah doesn’t have the same drama. Christmas is really heightened. I remember meeting my ex’s parents, they were from Boston, Irish Catholic, and they drank a lot. And the first night I met my ex’s mom, she got drunk and told me she was sorry she couldn’t be my mother, too. It was very strange and very specifically an Irish Catholic, drunk, emotional evening. That was the first time I met my ex’s mom.

How did that even come up?
She got really drunk, and I was talking about my family and growing up, and I actually had a fine childhood, I don’t know what she was talking about. She just started crying and said she wished she could have been there for me. I was like, “I’ve been dating your son for like a month, so it would have been weird if you’d been there.” So that was very strange, and maybe a reason why I hadn’t dated a lot since.

A month is so soon to meet someone’s family, too. Why rush?
You don’t need that! I say wait it out as long as you can without meeting the family. Wait until you get to a point where you know you’ll be together for a long time. When it’s absolutely necessary and they have no choice but to deal with it, that’s when you meet them. And I speak as an expert, as someone who hasn’t been in a serious relationship for seven years.

I think that just adds to your insight. Because you can be objective.
I’m not caught up in all this drama like everyone else. I have a bird’s eye view. I can weigh in.

Hanukkah is a pretty low-key holiday, but do you have any exciting plans anyway? Anything festive going on with you?
I am Jewish, but I love Christmas, as most Jews with any taste do, because Hanukkah is lame. And Christmas in New York is one of the best times to be there. I’ve been in L.A. for the better part of a year now, which is really strange to me. I think Christmas will give me an opportunity to be in New York without working and just enjoy New York. I’ve actually enjoyed my time in L.A. more than a New Yorker is supposed to.

As both a New Yorker and a Taylor Swift fan/expert, what are your thoughts on “Welcome to New York”?
I think no one understands New York the way Taylor Swift does. I think she’s just gotten right to the heart of it. Not since Taxi Driver has there been such a perceptive analysis of what it’s like to live in Manhattan.

When you’re back in town, you should hang out around her place in Tribeca. You can shout at her in Billy on the Street and get her on your show.
That’s a great idea! I would love to have Taylor Swift on Billy on the Street. I would do a duet of “Glitter and Ribs” with her. But I don’t want to run around Soho with her or the Meatpacking District. I’m taking her to the Bronx, to Spanish Harlem. I’m taking her to the depths of Queens, where I grew up, and I’m going to show her what it’s really like. I’ll bring her on the Staten Island Ferry and leave her there. Then we’ll write a whole album about it. It’ll mostly be about how she met someone on the Staten Island Ferry and it didn’t work out. And I’m like, “It’s only 20 minutes, Taylor, what did you expect?” But on the ferry, you pass the Statue of Liberty, so if she could get into women, there’s that option for her.

Aside from Taylor, what are your current pop-culture obsessions?
I’m obsessed with The Comeback on HBO. The first season is my favorite TV show of all time. I’m so happy it’s back. Every episode of the new season is getting better and better. I can’t binge-watch later on. I can’t wait even a day. I have to watch it immediately. People who are not watching The Comeback should be ashamed of themselves. If you’re into TV and pop culture, if you like quality, well-written, well-acted TV shows, do yourself a favor and watch it. Lisa Kudrow is really giving one of the great performances on TV ever. That is the No. 1 thing. That, and my usual combo of porn and Meryl Streep movies.

And you’ve met Meryl, right? Please describe everything you learned about her in great detail.
I met Meryl a few years ago! It’s been a while. They were very nice and invited me to the Into the Woods premiere tonight in New York, but I’m stuck in L.A. and I’m working. I did go to an advance screening, and I loved it. Meryl was amazing [when we met], and she was totally game. I got to watch her watch clips of me screaming about her, which she had never seen. It was a very surreal experience. She couldn’t have been nicer. She gave me a big hug, and she totally got the joke and totally got my persona. It’s still my dream to get her on Billy on the Street. Someday.

I saw that you were at the GQ Man of the Year party last weekend. What are those events actually like?
Basically, it’s a party where you stand around having drinks and looking at very pretty people. And it was fun! It was like, it’s one of those big, only-in-L.A. types of parties. It was a great guest-list. I was happy to be there. Who did I meet? There are a lot of big stars there, but I get really excited to meet other funny people that I admire. And I met Nathan Fielder, from Nathan for You. I’m completely starstruck by him. I think he’s a genius. It was nice because it’s really just a party, they don’t make you sit through any annoying show. It’s a big, schmoozy, fun event. Sarah Silverman was there, Amy Poehler, Michael Sam was there, and Chappelle was there, Kimmel. It was a great crowd. I got drunk and had a turkey burger and went home.

I’m glad that it’s fun. I thought you might say that they only look fun but are secretly lame in real life.
The honest truth is, I’m a bit new to this scene. And I’m someone who is really interested and fascinated by all facets of Hollywood and the entertainment industry. So even some of the parties that might not be as fun for people, I always enjoy everything on one level or another. I just find the whole thing interesting and ridiculous and fun, sexy, completely absurd, and just an adventure. Just a bizarre, bizarre adventure. And I’m grateful to be a part of it, even though I realize it's exceedingly strange.