What do they say about New York City: There are eight million stories, and sometimes it seems as though eight million of the people telling them think they're comedians? No, that's not it. It is a fact, though, that America's biggest city is also its biggest comedy mecca. Hollywood may be Hollywood, but New York City is where comedians are born funny, become funny or arrive to thrust their funny upon us. I think we should meet some of these people. This is a recurring feature, a mini-profile of newcomers, up-and-comers and overcomers of New York's vibrant comedy scene. It's called Meet Me In New York.
I first met Nikki Glaser in Montreal, where she was one of the "new faces" at Just For Laughs in 2007, but you may have first heard and seen Glaser either as a contestant on Last Comic Standing, her performance on The Tonight Show (Leno edition), or her role in the 2010 documentary, I Am Comic. Unlike many comedians, she moved to NYC from Los Angeles, instead of the other way around. She has a weekly podcast with Sara Schaefer called You Had To Be There, and this summer, Glaser will release a stand-up comedy CD through Rooftop Comedy. If you're not a fan of her, you soon will be. Let's get to know more about her!
Name: Nikki Glaser
Arrival date: September 2010
Arrived from: LA via St. Louis
When and where did you start performing comedy? I started comedy in the Midwest (St Louis and Kansas City, MO) in 2004.
What was your best credit before moving here? The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
Why did you pick NYC over LA or anywhere else? I moved to LA right out of college, and after nearly three years there, I wanted to try something different. I loved the scene there and the group of comics I came up with, but I feel like LA is a place to go after you've either a) have a job, b) figured out exactly what you want out of the business. I wasn't there yet. So I moved back home to St. Louis where I worked the road steadily for over a year and built my act. Eventually, I needed more than the Midwest comedy circuit could offer, so New York was an obvious choice. I had visited there a ton and had a lot of friends who made the transition onto the NYC scene fairly easy.
How long did it take to get your first paid gig in NYC after moving here? It was pretty quick. I haven't had to struggle as much as a lot of comics who move here for the first time. But that's because I already went through that in LA. I don't think I would move to a city where I had to start from the bottom again. That was really rough.
How is this scene better/same/worse than the scene you moved from? It's better than St. Louis because there are more places to perform. It's worse than St. Louis because I miss my family and singing in my car.
NYC comics always wants to hear how much LA sucks, and vice versa. The grass is always greener, and especially in LA because the grass is literally greener there.
But people love to hear how terrible LA must have been, and how they made the right decision in not living there, but I won't give them that. I loved LA, and I hope to live there again one day. But I feel like New York is where I need to be right now. I'm at a stage in my career where I want to develop my act and figure out who I really am as a comic. This is the place for that. The caliber of comics here is ridiculous and has forced me to step up my game. I get on stage a ton and I love the comics I've met since living here. Also, no drunk driving!
Do you already have an "only in New York City" moment yet? I've seen three exposed penises on the train in the eight short months I've been here. Two more and I get one free!
What tip would you give to any comedian who moves here? Have enough money saved. Then wait and save more.
Where do you see yourself five years from now? I hope that I can find a balance between here and LA. I also hope that I'm not on the road as much. My apartment feels like a really expensive storage unit at this point. And it's been hard for me to gain much momentum within the club scene in the city because I'm gone at least two weeks every month. It'd be nice to be able to make a living off the road, but for now it's all I have. So that's the goal: being able to continue doing stand up at my favorite clubs and on TV, working on projects with my friends, traveling MUCH less, and having enough time at home to build a life outside of travel and comedy. I want to feel like a real adult at some point soon. I've been doing comedy professionally since I was 19 and I have yet to feel professional about it.
Here's an old sketch Glaser made for you to enjoy on the Internet, which she thought you might still enjoy now. Let's roll the clip!
Which NYC comedian would you like to see me style and profile next for Meet Me In New York? Send your nominations to: thecomicscomic AT gmail DOT com