Turn of the screw

Netflix Comedian Iliza Shlesinger Talks Upcoming Nottingham Glee Club Gig

6 November 18 interview: Alison Kirkman

Iliza Shlesinger delivered her unique mix of feminist wit and smart advice to packed shows in the UK earlier this year. This month, the outspoken Texan and self-made Netflix star is back and she’ll be swinging by Nottingham’s Glee Club for one night only. She tells Alison Kirkman what to expect…

How would you describe your comedy to someone who hasn't seen you perform before?
I wouldn't… I'd probably say “You have a Netflix account, you're a real human, go look for yourself.”

What is your new show, Fluent in English, about?
I got married earlier this year so one of the things I talk about in my new show, is the perils of a wedding. If you’re married or you want to be married, woman or man, I think you’ll find it very relatable.

You’ve talked a lot about dating in the past, what's the weirdest date you've been on?
I don't suffer fools. If somebody was weird I would just walk out, like when I had a guy spike his own drink with GHB. He put it in water and was like “It's a pretty nice buzz!” I was like “That could take out a rhinoceros!”

What do you know about Nottingham?
I've never been to Nottingham but I promise I’ll spare you all the American Robin Hood references. All I know is that there is a sheriff… You have to understand that everything in the States is learned through a Disney filter.  

Do you think you'll have any time to explore?
I usually have the day off and always try to do something cultural, whether it's a museum or just Googling “hidden gem” of that city, or I eat the thing that's fun there. Then you can say you really went there and didn't just go to a Starbucks. Maybe I'll find some Nottingham Party Goblins while I'm out…

Are you bringing your dog, Blanche, with you?
I'd love to bring her – all I want is for my dog to have high tea – but it's like illegal or something! Because England is an island, they reserve the right to euthanise her on the spot, so I don't want to get there and have some crappy security agent kill my dog! I'll hedge my bets and leave her at home.

Will your husband look after her while you're away?
He'd better! She is not good at operating a microwave.

Do you miss your husband when you’re touring? How do you stay in touch?
I really take pride in being a working professional. I love my career and simultaneously my husband but I can definitely get on without him. On occasions he will come to the show but he's got his busy career and I have mine and it makes it that much more fun when we're together.

Which women do you admire?
Does everyone say Oprah and Beyoncé?

I've actually really been inspired in the last several years by women speaking up for other women and women taking a stand whether it's running for office, for local government, speaking up about their own issues. We're so often told as girls to shut up and be pretty, so every time a girl with something to stay is steadfast in her belief and does something with her brain I think it gives everyone hope.

I'd love to see a woman be president. And on a very basic level, I'd just love to see a woman go for a run at night without fear of being physically assaulted. No matter how progressive society is, women are still at a physical disadvantage. I’d like to see women leading their lives unencumbered by fear of doing regular things. That's a little serious for a comedy interview but it’s how I feel.

What things worry you?
I'm worried about the climate, about our Earth. I worry about that a lot and make an effort to do whatever I can for our planet. I worry about the future of my own country.

I worry about being heard as an artist and about how people's perceptions of me as a woman could have negative ramifications on my career… I think a lot of women worry about that.

I also get anxious if my dog is scratching too much in the night because I can hear her and I start wondering if she is about to die.

How do you relax?
I don't. I'm not a relaxed person, I know the cool thing to say would be “good vibes only, I'm a chill girl.” I am not chill. I didn't get to be where I am by being chill. I think there's an unnecessary importance put on being cool.

One thing that I love actually is Great British Bake Off. It’s one of the few relaxing things in my life. My favourite part is when they do illustrations of what the cake should look like and in lovely British accents they explain what's going to happen. It's very soothing. It's totally different to American competitive cooking shows because there's this honest sense of self you Brits have. The contestants are like [puts on British accent] “oh well, I've lost, but I hope I've done my mum proud and… I hope I don't die.” In America they’re like “Fuck you, I should have won, my quiche is way better, this is rigged!”

Tell us about your book – Girl Logic - which is being published in the UK this December.
Girl Logic lets women know they’re not crazy, as society wants to call us all the time.

The amount of information we women have to take can be maddening. We have to sift through so much bullshit, from how we’re told to look, act, be, weigh – this never-ending stream of input. It’s a miracle we function at all given all the expectations.

I wrote it because I never had any help from any women when I was coming up in comedy. I always wished somebody would have told me that I was ok and that what I was doing was ok and that how I was feeling and thinking was alright. Through the book, I’m doing that for my younger self and for all women.

Iliza Shlesinger performs her show Fluent in English at Glee Club, Nottingham on Monday 12 November.

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