Oct. 10 (UPI) — Comedian Nikki Glaser said her Netflix special Bangin’, an hour of raunchy sexual humor with underlying messages about feminism and gender politics, was written with a specific audience in mind: the 17-year-old version of herself.
Glaser, 35, host of You Up on SiriusXM Satellite Radio, told UPI in a recent interview that the version of her stand-up show that appears in Bangin’, streaming now on Netflix, is a more polished and carefully planned performance than her usual live shows.
“I’ve never been one of these comedians who plans beforehand what I’m going to do,” she said. “When I’m on the road consistently, the show starts to take shape, and there becomes a beginning, middle and end, naturally. But for the special, it’s something I had to actually sit down and consciously work on [it].”
Planning for the taped special was more akin to working on Not Safe, the Comedy Central series Glaser hosted for one season in 2017, than her usual, more “free-flowing” live shows or radio episodes, she said.
“I really just wanted it to be tight, packed with jokes, not a lot of fat. I just wanted it to be clean — in terms of structure, not content — so I really enlisted the help of a lot of friends,” Glaser said. “It reminded me of doing the TV show because it was like I had a staff of people helping me pick out jokes and focus on what was important to say and what needed to be said.”
Sneaking in messaging
Glaser said she aimed to assemble a show that “challenges people’s thinking,” and her approach involves weighty commentary on gender politics “couched with a lot of sex jokes.” The special centers on the comedian’s perspective on issues of consent, assault, rape culture and the MeToo movement without ever mentioning those words.
“I think those words can really turn people off … phrases like ‘rape culture’ or ‘the MeToo movement.’ Guys are just like rolling their eyes, and I don’t need any reasons for guys to not want to listen to me,” Glaser said. Many audiences have biases against female comics as unfunny and angry at men, she said, “and I don’t want to add to that.”
“I’d rather sneak in my messaging, like how you’d puree carrots and put them in brownies and you’re like, ‘My kids don’t know they’re eating carrots,'” she said.
The special includes jokes about potentially heavy subjects such as women feeling pressured into unwanted sex acts and when consensual activities can become unexpectedly uncomfortable.
The “overall message” of the special is to encourage young girls not to do things “they don’t want to do sexually to please a man,” Glaser said.
“I just want girls to have more autonomy and know what they want and know what they don’t want and feel empowered enough to be like, ‘I don’t feel comfortable right now.’ Men are doing things that make us uncomfortable because we don’t speak up for ourselves, and it’s really hard to. It’s hard to have a voice, and I want to empower women to have one.”
Glaser said she tries to create the kind of comedy she wishes had been available to her when she was young and still forming views on sex and romance.
“Whenever I create something, I try to create something that is for the 17-year-old version of myself,” she said. Glaser said the material in Bangin’ also is largely aimed at the current version of herself, as she still struggles with many of those same issues.
“I’m single right now and trying to navigate dating and I feel completely overwhelmed by the obligation that a man has to have an orgasm, I still feel burdened by that, and it’s one of the major points of my special — they don’t have to have an orgasm, they can do it when you leave,” she said.
Empathy in comedy
While jokes are written with women in mind, Glaser said she was careful in Bangin’ to choose language that wouldn’t make her male fanbase feel attacked or bruise their egos.
“I have a fragile ego, so I relate to men having fragile egos,” she said. “I also empathize with men. I don’t know what it’s like to be a man, I only know what it’s like to be a woman, but I empathize with men’s situations a lot.”
The performer said she tries to “approach comedy with empathy” because it “gets left out a lot” when jokes are made at the expense of other groups.
Glaser mentions feminism only once in the special, at the very end, when she sums up the performance by coyly stating, “I think I just stumbled upon feminism,” but the feminist perspective of the show is entirely intentional.
“I just know the word ‘feminist’ is such a turn off to stupid people, and I want stupid people to get my messaging, too. So I try to just stumble upon it, like I said, and not hit them over the head with it, but I am a proud feminist … but we need a new word, because people hate that word so much,” she said.
Glaser said she plans to tackle subjects like feminism, rape culture and MeToo “much more pointedly” in a 20-minute special she has coming up toward the end of the year as part of Netflix series The Degenerates.
“I felt super empowered by the MeToo movement, and my special wouldn’t exist, I think, in the way that it does if it wasn’t for that,” she said.
The entertainer said her other upcoming projects include “new TV stuff coming up that I can’t really talk about” and, once she has enough time, film projects.
“I plan on doing everything that anyone will let me do. I love entertainment, I love this business, and I can’t wait for them to chew me up and spit me out,” Glaser said.
Wherever those future projects might lead, Glaser said she has no plans to give up stand-up comedy due to its “highly personal” nature.
“No one else can tell me what to say … it’s been just the best career and I won’t give up on stand-up unless it gives up on me,” she said. “It got me in this business, and it’s going to take me out. I’ll be doing it until the end. I’m going to Joan Rivers it for sure — and by that I mean die during a plastic surgery procedure.”
Nikki Glaser: Bangin’ is streaming now on Netflix. You Up with Nikki Glaser broadcasts Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. until noon, on SirusXM Satellite Radio.