Moments into Nikki Glaser’s latest comedy special, Good Clean Filth, she poses a hypothetical to her audience: If you had to perform oral sex on one of your parents, who would it be? That’s one of the more innocent bits during the hour, which dropped July 16 on HBO. But none of her new material will shock Glaser devotees. She’s built a following for her ability to marry crass and clever. She’s also built a career out of it. Glaser recently starred in an E! Network reality show (Welcome Home Nikki Glaser?), hosts the HBO Max dating competition show FBoy Island and is even mulling a sitcom. That she’s gotten that much busier after a 2020 move back to her hometown of St. Louis is a testament to both her industry appeal and restlessness.
Speaking from her Sunset Strip hotel room on a July trip back for meetings and a few sets at LA’s beloved The Comedy Store, Glaser talked about the enduring appeal of touring, getting angry onstage post-Roe and why she took her shirt off (her bra stayed on) while performing at a baseball stadium.
You taped this special a while ago, right?
I did that in November, and it was supposed to come out in March. But I’m so bad at watching myself, and I still wanted to edit it, so I had to tell HBO, “Sorry, I need an extension.” It was like writing my professors in college: “My printer’s broken! My computer froze! My grandma died!”
Knowing what we know now, do you wish you’d leaned more into America’s history of policing women’s bodies?
If I’d shot it after the overturning of Roe, it would’ve had an anger to it — an anger that might have repelled some viewers more than it might already repel them. I’m glad that it still has a hope to it that might not be there onstage for me anymore.
You’re touring a lot right now.
Comics just put names on their tours to make them seem new. If we ever take a break, it’s because we’re doing some project that keeps us off the road. We don’t know how not to say yes to gigs.
A lot of comics have said they’re rethinking touring after the pandemic. Why not you?
The money is just so ridiculous. TV money is fine and good. But when you’re starting to sell tickets at theaters and adding two shows in one night. … I’m not a greedy person, but that’s the money that gives you freedom. So, I’m doing it because of money and because I don’t want anyone to forget me. And it’s fun!
Back to that anger, how is it manifesting onstage?
The day after Roe got overturned, I was on tour with Bert Kreischer and a bunch of guys. The only other girl was the DJ. Bert takes off his shirt onstage for every performance, and it’s hilarious. He’s a big, hairy guy. So I took my shirt off as an homage to him because all of his fans were there. But what I was really thinking was, “I’m going to take my shirt off, and fuck you if it’s distracting. Fuck you, if it’s titillating.” I really do struggle with that. You can only take your shirt off if you have a body that isn’t sexually attractive. Trying to be sexy and comedic at the same time doesn’t work. And if you try to be sexy, you’re sad, you’re thirsty, especially if you’re 38. I think Roe being overturned is about women being punished for fucking other men and not the guys who make the rules. They want us to fuck them, and they’re mad about it. So they need to punish us sluts.
The gimmick of your reality show was moving from LA back to St. Louis. Abortion’s now banned in Missouri. Do you think you’ll stay?
I’m looking for an exit strategy. I love St. Louis, and I love not being in New York or LA and feeling this pressure I feel when I’m here — to constantly be out, constantly be working. But I’m really disgusted with all the things that a lot of people are disgusted with. It’s hard to be around [here]. And the problem is not the people who have the Trump flags. At least those people are being honest and telling us who they are.
The season finale included a staged development meeting for a sitcom with showrunner Bill Lawrence. Do you want to act more?
Every comedian is supposed to have your stand-up, and then you get yours Seinfeld or Everybody Loves Raymond. I never wanted that. It’s a lot of just waiting around in a trailer. The only reason I agreed to do this is because Bill assured me that we will make it with fun people. I saw a lot of my friends, brilliant stand-ups, who went into scripted and… whoa! It does not translate. I’m just terrified of doing something lame.
You host Fboy Island. How do you reconcile your ostensibly feminist point of view with hosting a dating show where half the men are trying to deceive women for money?
I told the producers, “I need to be just as in the dark as the girls are about things. Because I don’t want to mislead them in any way.”
Do you feel conflicted about the fact that a self-identified player could get all the money and leave the women with nothing?
Not at all. I’m a girl who chooses Fboys a lot of times, knowing that they’re an Fboy. At the time that they choose, the guy’s already self-identified as a nice guy or an Fboy. They decide if they trust him. So it’s really about trusting your instincts. Also, we took the money from that first Fboy and we gave it to charity. Yeah, there are situations where these women are set up to look foolish, and we are in some ways celebrating douchebaggery — but as a host, I get to mock it the whole time.
It kills me that you can’t just say “fuck boy.”
I know. There were so many times we’d have to stop filming, and a producer would be like, “Nikki, you said ‘fuck boy.’ We need to get that again.” We lean into how stupid the name is this season.
Your Wikipedia page makes a strange note of how many times you’ve done Joe Rogan’s podcast. In the current, hyper-polarized culture, would you go on again?
I disagree with so much of what he’s done, but would I go on now? Probably. Because I’d go, “What are you doing?” I feel like I could say that to him. I used to hate that argument of, “We’ve got to bring the other side in and listen to them.” But I think that’s the way forward, to find commonalities. And I’m tired of canceling people. I mean, I love it. There’s something about it that is so delicious. There are people I desperately want out of the business for the things they’ve done and said. But I’ve said things in the past that I don’t stand by. I want to go on and challenge these things in a playful way, coming from someone who is a friend. That’s how I rationalize it. I might be completely wrong.
Your fondness for Taylor Swift comes up a lot in your act. Have you ever heard from her?
Only when she wrote back to my Instagram post, which was apologizing for talking about her meanly in the past. I will just wait until the universe brings us together. Really, I don’t even want to meet her. It would take so much effort to calm me down, and I need her to focus on writing and living her best life.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
This story first appeared in the July 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.