Being told you’re a perv doesn’t always yield good results. For Nikki Glaser, her boyfriend calling her out on her perverted nature prompted the creation of a television show to explore just that. Not Safe with Nikki Glaser premieres tonight at 10:30pm ET/PT on Comedy Central and explores Nikki’s fearlessness when it comes to sex and relationships. I spoke to Nikki about the female approach to sex, tackling difficult subjects in comedy, and orgasm equality.
It’s a very exciting time for you, how are you doing?
It feels like the right time. I’ve never been too eager to do things before I’m ready to do them; I’ve always been cautiously proceeding through my career. I don’t wanna do anything I don’t deserve; I don’t want anyone to be able to say, “Why is she getting that?” I’m glad to have this show at a time when I feel like I can handle it that I’ve put in the work for. I hate the phrase but I really have “paid my dues” although I probably still owe AFTRA money for those union dues but figuratively, sure.
How did the show develop?
I had a show with MTV called Nikki & Sara Live and knew I enjoyed hosting. I’ve always done standup and enjoyed that but I really like working on a TV show and having a place to go every day, working with writers, shooting things, having a schedule and staying in one place. I like working in an office, I like having a sense of normalcy. The road is always fun to have in between seasons but it’s not what I always want my life to be. After the MTV show got canceled I took a year to do standup and collect my thoughts until I got stir-crazy thinking about my next move. I was brainstorming with my boyfriend, who’s a producer I met working on Nikki & Sara Live, and he suggested something I am interested in and passionate about. He goes, “Well you’re probably one of the biggest pervs I’ve ever met… maybe do something about that?”
Aside from celebrity gossip and stuff like that we covered in Nikki & Sara Live, I figured I could pursue my interest in sex, relationships, and people’s personal lives. It was spurred by that comment of me being the biggest perv and he’s right – I’ve always been interested in sex and titillated by it and kind of curious but also kind of scared and wanting to learn more. I didn’t have sex until I was 21 and I think part of that shows up in the show because I waited so long. I know it isn’t so long but it felt like it cause everyone around me had done it; I wanted to know everything about it. That curiosity is still inside me and it can’t go away, I wanted to soak up everything about it so when it happened I was ready. I didn’t get my period until really late and the same thing happened for that, I wanted to know everything about it so when it happened I was so prepared, and I was! When I got it I was just putting in tampons like oh this old thing? I just love hearing details of people’s sex lives. Nothing shocks me and I’m very non-judgmental, or I try to be at least. I think people feel comfortable telling me these things. I want people to be more open about sex and not scared of it like I was, because I’m still learning and growing.
It’s a big part of growing up but for a long time sex was a thing you don’t talk about, which of course makes young people wonder about it even more.
Yes! I’m doing a show about something people don’t really talk about and if I make it more normal to talk about then no one will really care. I’m kinda gonna make my job obsolete! I wanna make it more normal – we’re all fucking. It’s one of the most interesting things any of us ever do but yet we’re all like, “No I didn’t do it!” What? Yes you did! You were just grunting and moaning and getting all red in the face and came everywhere but you had to act like you didn’t or like you don’t watch porn? No one ever talks about porn and yet it is the most consumed thing ever and everyone is just like “Oooh tee hee!” Every dude watches porn and we all kinda act like only certain dudes do but every dude does, that girl does, everyone does! I wanna uncover all.
There are so many lies people tell themselves or close friends just because they’re embarrassed. People know about masturbation, it’s a thing guys talk about non-stop and hey I’m pretty sure girls do it.
I actually don’t masturbate – people always say bullshit to me but I do think some girls do lie about it. I say well I’ve done anal, if I admit to that don’t you think I’d say if I’ve masturbated? That’s another thing I discovered doing this show, I have the freedom to say whatever I want about sex and am very empowered to say, “I wanna sit on that guy’s face” but then what do I do? A lot of women feel empowered but a lot of women aren’t. Lots of women aren’t having orgasms and a lot of guys don’t know how to give them one. I was doing an advice column thing and a girl wrote in that her boyfriend isn’t giving her orgasms and he doesn’t seem to notice it. She didn’t want to insult his manhood but she needed orgasms. I’ve been in that situation before and at the time I was so hurt, but now I realize that guy was probably in a relationship with a girl who didn’t have an orgasm or didn’t know how to tell him what she needed. If that guy never learned that a girl needs one, you need to teach them – a lot of people are clueless! I want to teach girls that it’s okay to be clueless at the age of 30 or 26 or 41, to be uncomfortable with touching yourself or to feel weird having sex. It’s okay at any age to try and figure stuff out because there is a learning curve to everything, even I am figuring it out. I’m not this sexpert and I don’t claim to be, which is what’s good about the show. Let’s be open about this stuff so we aren’t scared of our flaws and be comfortable saying what we want. We don’t all know how to ride a guy like crazy, doing reverse cowgirl – I have to be up there like a hot chick riding a bull in a Texas bar? I don’t have any rhythm so it is so intimidating.
It sounds like a more empowering approach that you shouldn’t be ashamed of your body or what you want. Do what you feel and think other people will like without being so afraid?
You hear that all the time, “just be you” and “don’t be ashamed of yourself” but it is so hard to get across, especially in a comedy show. When I was beginning this show and talking to my friend Amy Schumer about delivering a message, she’s so good at delivering a message with comedy. She said to me, “You know, it’s like those moms who sneak carrots into brownies, it’s about that. You can’t start with the message and then write the comedy around that; you have to start with the comedy.” It’s a very delicate balance trying to sneak those things in about empowering women and telling people it’s not cool to speak or treat someone in a certain way.
First and foremost we want to be funny – we’re on Comedy Central – but we do want to make a statement. We’re gonna figure it out. The first season of the show you’re finding where you are. We got a lot of funny stuff coming up. You gotta hit them first with the funny and then you can hit them over the head with the message.
How has the creative process been developing the show and the normal day-to-day?
It’s been great! I’ve hired all of my friends, it’s so fun but it’s also kind of hard. Whenever I leave the office to have some alone time or whatever, my boyfriend works here and all my best friends who live in LA work here. I’ve surrounded myself with people I trust who are exciting and it really feels like a great group effort. It feels like it’s “our” show, not just mine. I don’t feel like I’m alone up there. I’m telling a joke that we all wrote together and it sounds cheesy but I love them all and feel very protective. I would name them all but I would forget one and feel so bad like in a failed acceptance speech.
Do you think doing podcasts and talking about yourself in a way other than standup has made you more honest?
Yeah I mean, I think so. I’ve learned how to share every story that’s ever happened to me so I’ve learned what things I’m comfortable with sharing. I’ve tested all my boundaries – I’ve offended people, hurt people, and hurt myself by sharing certain stories. I have also had people write me about something I’ve shared that I may have regretted saying and getting emails saying thank you. It makes it all worth it if even one person writes you and says it made them feel less alone. It’s so cliché to say “if one person…” but it’s true cause I was that one person who felt very alone in high school and college with whatever stuff I struggled with. If one person I admired or thought had it together (which I don’t) and sees that I have insecurities I’m not ashamed of can give someone else confidence that’s great. I’ll put anything out there to make someone feel better about themselves. But I’m doing it selfishly too cause I know I need to vent so bad.
I did the Mental Illness Happy Hour and this girl wrote me ages ago when I first did it like, “Hey I live in New York and I have a therapist that I think would be great for you if you need one.” I was just like okay, that’s nice but I don’t know if I’ll ever need this so I saved the email. Maybe a year later I was feeling like I need to talk to someone and looked up that girl’s email and I still go to the therapist she recommended and it has been four years and that therapist has changed my life. It’s because of me spilling my guts on podcasts that I’m in a position now that my life has completely changed. That girl kinda changed my life in a certain way. I’ve gotten so much from people on podcasts as well; I think the medium has been great. I keep saying this but on a show that’s 22 minutes long I kinda wanna be like an Oprah-esque show that tells you to be your best self! I want people to be okay with being them. That’s why we’re covering things like foot fetishes where we aren’t calling people a weirdo, we’re just thinking this is kinda cool and what’s it all about. They’ve been ostracized by family and now have a lot of friends in this foot-worshipping community that is pretty awesome for them. Liking feet is pretty convenient. They don’t need strip clubs, they just need to go to Zappos.com.
There’s a new underlying “you’re not alone” message in a lot of mainstream media these days. It’s not making fun of people for being different, it’s questioning why and trying to find the funny in that.
I think so. Kids don’t like you to be mean any more in this amazing anti-bullying world. My show is being tailored to that demographic and we’re following Tosh.0 where we see a lot of mean things happening, but regardless! I don’t like mean comedy myself and never have but the bottom line is that I wanna hear people’s stories and hang out with my comedian friends.
Not Safe with Nikki Glaser airs Tuesday at 10:30 PM ET/PT on Comedy Central.
Photo by Danny Feld.