Review: Nikki Glaser “Perfect” (Comedy Central)

Nikki Glaser opens her first Comedy Central hour striding backstage with complete poise, confidence, ready for what’s at hand, only to slip into the title credit. Perfect.

Recorded before her breakthrough series Not Safe premiered on the network in February (“Perfect” also is what Glaser says over her series and special’s end titles), the live audience here in New York City last year didn’t know what you know now, which is what Glaser was capable of yet. Perhaps audience members at her taping recognized her from her regular appearance on close friend Amy Schumer’s Inside Amy Schumer, or more dedicated fans would remember seeing her co-host an MTV talk show three years ago.

If 40 is the new 30, then your 30s are when you really begin to hit your stride. Especially for stand-up comedians. As Glaser jokes in her first minutes: “I’m in the prime of my life. I’m in my late 20s. I’m 31. It’s just, it’s going great!” This is the true not quite a girl, not yet a woman period, truthfully for Glaser, and she lets us know about that push-pull from and into maturity by relating to Taylor Swift songs even though they’re not meant for her. Or perhaps more poignant of a paradox: “I’m on Snapchat. But I Google ‘bunion surgery’ every day.” Her “Quickie w/Nikki” Snapchats have generated millions of views for Comedy Central’s Discover channel on the temporary video sharing app.

Staying single at 31 and not having a kids, but no regrets, right? Glaser ponders the alternatives, and comes to the realize that she wishes she’d known that surrogacy was an option, and why don’t more women do that? Perhaps if women thought about babies as pizza, the metaphor would seem more appetizing. Marriage, on the other hand, just reminds Glaser of how worthless, or rather, trivial society feels about a woman’s last name. Sending maiden names out to voyage, only to return as bank passwords for your children to forget. “So rude!”

Many male comedians joke about sex, or the shallowness of dating. Glaser not only can acknowledge how many times she has faked herself to impress a potential mate — “I felt like I put Spanx on my personality” — but also can report on using a man’s vulnerability, particularly during sex, to say the words “I love you” to her. With an ex-boyfriend who drank too much, she simply fooled him into believing he’d crossed that threshold with her during a blackout. With her current beau, who doesn’t drink, she timed her suggestion just before he climaxed in bed. Glaser is comfortable enough with this boyfriend (who’s an executive producer on Not Safe) to obviously talk about sex in very open manner. She even asks him to send her the porn he’s watching while she’s on the road performing at a comedy club. Even looking at the front page of any porn site for research purposes, though, finds Glaser confused and concerned by what’s deemed acceptable for behavior and treatment of women.

“I’ve got to be wet up here now?!” Glaser jokes, pointing to her mouth.

Glaser has no reluctance, however, making light of our sexual mores while doing so in a realistic and sincerely funny manner. She also knows how to poke fun at her own proclivities and shortcomings, whether it’s how she uses dirty talk to compensate for being lazy in bed, or how her dirty talk may suffer, too.

But she closes her hour with some simple advice applicable to both men and women. For one: “Don’t Febreze your balls.” For another, she’s found the perfect compliment/loophole for any man.

As Nikki Glaser told me this week for my podcast, Last Things First, Sarah Silverman’s stand-up inspired her as a teen starting out in comedy that she could joke about sex onstage. And her longtime friendship with Schumer (they bonded as New Faces in Montreal’s Just For Laughs at 2007) has encouraged her, and later proved to her, that she could talk about anything with confidence.

Sex is not sacred. It’s not shameful. And on Not Safe, Glaser already has touched men’s genitals to arrange them for a glamour photo shoot, fed dialogue lines to porn actors while watching them have sex, sat on a vibrator while having coffee with her friend, allowed her feet to be handled by men with foot fetishes, and hooked up her colleagues and parents to lie detectors. Perhaps not since Insomniac with Dave Attell has a show lined up with a comedian’s sensibilities and truly pushed the format into new territory. Inside Amy Schumer rightfully wins awards for exposing the absurdity of how the world still treats women, but is still, at its core, a variety/sketch show. Not Safe has allowed Glaser to take the sex-advice of Dr. Ruth and Loveline, blow up the talk format to take real actions that provide a lot of funny and valuable lessons about how we’re currently keeping this species going. Or not going. As the case may be.

So the timing of Glaser’s first stand-up special is, well, Perfect.

Nikki Glaser: Perfect will be available April 10 on and in the Comedy Central App, while the extended uncensored version will be available for download April 12 on a variety of systems, as well as via digital album.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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