Landmine Comedy

Q&A: Nikki Glaser Talks Comedy Roasts and Dancing to T-Swift Ahead of Show

If you can't stand the heat, don't book a comedian.

By Radu Bondar March 6, 2020

In 2020, saying the wrong thing can derail your entire career, whether you’re an actor, a doctor, or even a college professor. On the other hand, some have been able to propel themselves to stardom through saying exactly what you’re not supposed to. Critically acclaimed comedian Nikki Glaser is happy to tip-toe that line for you—provided you show up and listen.

Having taped five comedy specials and two talk shows, Glaser is no stranger to people taking offense at her work. However, even she can be caught off guard occasionally.

“A college recently tried to cancel me,” the three-time Comedy Central roaster and television personality tells Houstonia ahead of her show at House of Blues Houston this Friday. “They put out a statement after that said, ‘If you were at the 7 p.m. comedy show last Friday and were triggered in any way by the themes of sexual abuse'—or whatever the hell—'we're offering free therapy on campus.’ And I'm like, oh, that's cool. Like I was actually flattered, because if you see my comedy and you need therapy afterwards, like you need therapy.”

While many would be crushed by that kind of response, Glaser knows her act empowers and delights many and is keen on navigating the landmine-filled path of modern show business. Before her show, we talked about her explosive career and brand-new tour, Bang it Out.

Having opened for you and been part of your writing team before, I know this is your first theater tour. From what I’ve heard, you’ve made some of the changes that really up the production value of the whole experience.

I mean, we close with a dance number, so if that’s what you’re referring to, yes. From doing Dancing with the Stars, I learned that dancing is truly something that brings me a lot of joy. And I think it's just like a fun thing that no one expects. I know my experience is shared with so many women and men just in terms of being scared about the state of the world and being lonely, and anxiety-ridden, and depressed, and sexually dysfunctional. I want to make comedy for people to feel less alone, and especially just for me to feel less alone.

A lot of my act centers on themes that really resonated for me, which kind of came through the song "The Man" by Taylor Swift, which is the song we dance to at the end. I built the dance knowing that I was going to close with that song—knowing that it kind of already echoes the same things audiences just heard me talk about for an hour. Also, I'm just trying to get Taylor Swift's attention in any way I can.

You've hosted TV shows and podcasts before. Do you approach new projects differently now that you're at the height of your power?

I do feel like with my experience, I’ll knock anything out of the park in terms of TV and talk shows. But, I hope to be working into my 60s, so hopefully that’s when I actually hit my stride. I look at someone like Conan O’Brien and think, Oh my god, I’d love to have that career. I love being a guest, though. If I could just be a guest the rest of my life! It's like the easiest, most fun thing ever, because you just incorporate standup into conversation.

You’ve also been on three Comedy Central Roasts now and have become, dare I say, one of its most popular staples. What’s the future for you and roasting?

I love the roast so much, and they always have given me the biggest boost in terms of raising my profile—and also making fun of my profile by calling me Owen Wilson. But, you know, you got to have it both ways. They are always something that I will say yes to if I have the stamina to do it. And I'd love to roast a woman next. So that would be fun. I’d love to roast Lindsey Lohan; she seems like she could take it.

What is your favorite part of your current tour?

It really is dancing the last five minutes or, really, the last minute onstage is like the most fun I have. And then it's practicing the dance backstage. And it’s getting into a city and being able to go take a nap and then go to the gym and goof around. Also, doing radio every day is still super fun—when I don't have a million things to go do right after. So, everything I do is fun, basically. I really do enjoy it all. And if I don't, I quickly get it out of my life.

Mar 6. From $12. House of Blues Houston, 1204 Caroline St. 888-402-5873. More info and tickets at

[This interview has been edited and condensed] 

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