Comedian Nikki Glaser on Sex, Sobriety, Flemish, and More Sex

Plus: Watch an exclusive preview clip from this week's episode of 'Not Safe with Nikki Glaser.'
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Plus: Watch an exclusive preview clip from this week's episode of 'Not Safe with Nikki Glaser.'
(Photo: Danielle Levitt) 

(Photo: Danielle Levitt) 

Nikki Glaser likes sex, and she’s not afraid to talk about it. The 31-year-old comedian has a new show on Comedy Central devoted to the topic, a sort of Loveline for the Snapchat generation, that covers a breadth of topics such as feminist dick pics and female ejaculation. Not Safe with Nikki Glaser also brings in weekly guests to role-play, crack jokes, and maybe participate in a sex toy demonstration. And thankfully it doesn’t include a smarmy Dr. Drew-type to explain sex to the audience.

While Not Safe definitely falls more into the comedy genre than its nineties predecessor, that doesn’t mean Glaser doesn’t have altruistic interests regarding the material. A self-described perv, Glaser admits she’s hoping to offer some unsolicited advice to the young people who catch her show, and maybe answer a few burning questions. Not Safe showcases Glaser’s off-the-wall sense of humor, solidifying her as one of the best comedic talents on TV right now.

Not that she hasn’t already achieved up-and-coming standing. Glaser previously hosted MTV’s Nikki & Sara Live with Sara Schaefer, and she’s a member in good standing of Amy Schumer’s squad (Glaser has also appeared on Schumer’s sketch series and in last year’s Trainwreck). And if her own series isn’t enough to prove her merits, her upcoming hour-long special, Nikki Glaser: Perfect, premieres on Comedy Central on April 9th.

I talked to Glaser about her upcoming special, airing details of her private life for the sake of comedy, and sex. Yeah, we talked a lot about sex.

What makes you so interested in sex, and why did you make that the focus of your show?

I guess it’s interesting to me because we’re all doing it every day, but it’s something we’re not talking about. Sure, we talk and joke about it in these vague ways, but no one’s ever like, “Yeah, I was, like, heaving on top of someone and our skin was just flappin’ around, and I was going, ‘Uh, uh, uh…’”

We don’t talk about the really gross aspects or embarrassing parts of it. I’m interested in that stuff. I want to know how it happens, how it goes down. I want the details. This was a chance for me to get that. I was always scared of sex, and I didn’t have it until I was 21. I think that’s because I was so uninformed and everything was so vague. I’m trying to talk more openly about it so that young people have a better understanding of sex. I know they might be getting information from porn, but that’s not real. I hope to give them a realistic perspective.

I’m about your age, and it sounds like your sex education was a lot like mine — in that there wasn’t much of it. I got most of what I learned about sex either from eventually doing it or watching Loveline in the nineties — and, again, that show focused on the extreme and scary parts about sex. Joking about sex is fun because sex is absolutely absurd — and so are the ways we go to get it. Is that the part of sex you’re most interested in and want to talk about?

I didn’t realize how awkward we were with sex until I quit drinking over four years ago. We rely on alcohol to have sex so much. Everyone does. Often in my standup I ask people in the audience who has had sex with someone for the first time when they were stone-cold sober? No one can ever say that they’ve done it! It doesn’t happen! It’s because it’s so uncomfortable, and it’s such a weird thing to do. When I got sober, part of it was because I was having relationships that were based on getting drunk because I couldn’t be intimate with someone unless I was fucked up...I had to get inebriated to do it! And then I’d get into these relationships where I had to be drunk to have sex, and there was no real relationship there.

I realized I had to quit drinking to have a real relationship — plus, I was having, you know, terrible hangovers. And then I realized having sex with someone new was almost impossible! I’d hook up with ex-boyfriends because I already knew the tricks of the trade. But to find someone new that I wanted to start over with? It took me years.

I have a lot of sober friends and I’ve never heard anyone admit that — it’s almost another taboo or stigma that people don’t talk about. You almost have to relearn everything.

You really do. I wish I knew that when I quit; I would have weaned myself off of it. But I sort of realized, “Oh, I haven’t had sex in a really long time, what’s going on?” And then I thought, “Oh my God, I can’t do it unless I’m nearly black-out drunk!” I mean, how do you make a first move? And then I realized that sex in and of itself makes you kind of drunk. It loosens you up; it makes you a different person. Sex is so weird, and you have to be so comfortable because you’re so vulnerable — I mean, you’re literally naked. You have to compartmentalize it and put it in another part of your brain. Sex now, for me, is a way to get kinda fucked up, so to speak. It’s an escape — you have to. You have to let loose.

Is being more curious and open about it, especially through the show…did that help you relearn how to do it?

I got curious before the show came out — my curiosity and my openness led to the show. I met my boyfriend through [Nikki and Sara Live]. We have an adventurous sex life. Neither of us drink — he’s just never done it. He introduced me to a lot of things, we’ve experimented, and we’ve had a very fun sex life. He’s a producer, and we were thinking of different shows we could pitch, and he said, “Well, you’re kind of one of the biggest pervs I’ve ever met.” You know, in a loving way. [Laughs] He was right: I knew it would be fun to capitalize on the fact that I love sex right now. Being sober — being present for sex — led to the show.

We’re not so evolved as a culture that what you cover on the show isn’t still shocking in a way. It’s sort of surprising, actually, that twenty years after Loveline you can still find ways to shock an audience.

It’s hard to find areas that haven’t been covered or new places that we haven’t seen on TV before. I’m just trying to focus on places I’ve always wanted to go — but can safely go with the comfort of a camera crew.

I’m a huge Bridget Everett fan, and when she was on your show recently she led the crowd into a chant referring to your dad as “Horse Cock Glaser.” She’s great at embarrassing people in her act — and I could tell you were a little embarrassed about it. Is there anything that still makes you uncomfortable or get shy?

I mean, I definitely don’t love the idea of my dad’s name being shouted like that, but Bridget ran with it and it was hilarious. I put myself in situations because everything seems fun when I’m in the writers room, but then when I get to a set and I’m sitting in front of my parents, giving them a lie detector test, and asking if they’ve done anal. I’m like, “What have I done? Why am I doing this?” It happens a lot on the show, because I’m putting myself out there. We’re doing a show tonight where I’m showing a picture I sent to my boyfriend. I was running late to something and stuck in traffic, and I texted him, “I’ll keep you abreast of the situation,” and then sent a real sad picture of my boob from below. I was just looking down over it, no makeup — just gross. We gave it to the graphics department to blur it and everything, they’re coming back and everyone’s weighing in on it, weirdly critiquing my body. It’s one of those times when I wonder if I will do anything to get a laugh or if I am completely shameless.

We’re also discussing how I’m turned on by the idea of my boyfriend sleeping with another woman. Everyone on my staff is horrified by that. I actually am turned on by it! We did a field piece where I interviewed girls who could sleep with him, and people kept telling me that by the end of it I would realize that it wasn’t for me. I know it is for me — I know what I like. There are some days when I feel very judged about my opinions about sex, and I realized I was about to announce this “weird” thing I’m into. It’s a strange thing for many people. Are people going to react the same way these five people in the rehearsal are reacting? Why am I sharing this part of my life when it opens me up to judgment? But part of me wants to share that part of my life because I think non-monogamy is a normal thing for human beings to want.

It’s a value judgment — like by saying this is how you feel, it can seem like you’re attacking how they feel.

And I don’t want them to write a piece that they don’t believe in. Those are vulnerable moments for me — when I’m putting my ideas out there and feel a little alone. But I’m taking a risk: hanging out a private aspect of my relationships in the hope that other people who feel that way will feel less bad about themselves.

That conversation really does create a super vitriolic response. I’ve seen it happen all the time.

People get very angry. I think people are afraid of the concept of open relationships. Like, “I will not accept this.” They don’t have to! No one is telling them to. But it might work for other people.

You mentioned you didn’t know much about sex until when you were an adult. What’s the sex advice you wish you had gotten? And what do you try to impart to younger viewers?

I would say that there’s no wrong way to do it. Just do it when you feel like you want to. I had in my head for so long that I hadn’t done it yet and was going to be bad at it. You are going to be bad at it! And they’re going to be bad at it, too. The person on the receiving end is going to be grateful for the experience — if its consensual, if you’re both into it — and no one is going to judging you for being bad at it. Treat your first time having sex as a learning experience. It’s not something you’re auditioning for. Even if it goes badly, know that it’ll be a great story you’ll tell one day. And I would also say to girls: if something doesn’t feel good, tell him what to do. He might not know, and he’s not going to get mad if you do. He doesn’t know what feels good — you do.

Let’s talk about your upcoming special. I haven’t seen it, so could you tell me how it’s different from the show? Do you cover sex in your standup in the same way, or do you compartmentalize it to your show?

It’s way different than the show because standup is very different. On the show, I’m talking like myself, and things are written like monologues rather than a standup bit. Everything I write in my show is a collaboration with a team. My standup is years and years of me working things out on the road. I’m really proud of it! A lot of it is about, well… I don’t know why I feel this way, but I feel like every special or show I do is some variation on how I feel like I’m not a girl, not yet a woman. It’s me talking about how I don’t want to have kids, the state of my relationship — we’ve been dating for three years, so, you know, we’re almost done. [Laughs] And it’s called Perfect, because I am.

My last question is not really a question, but I wanted to mention my favorite fact about you on your Wikipedia page…

Oh no!

Did you really major in Flemish at the University of Kansas?

I don’t understand why it says that! I studied English!

That’s amazing. I was going to ask you to tell me something dirty in Flemish even though I knew I wouldn’t know how to transcribe it.

It’s so funny. I don’t know who did it, but I’m leaving it up there. I don’t know how to change it!

I was honestly surprised. Like, I wondered if you ever went back for alumni events to give advice to the Flemish kids.

They already don’t really acknowledge me as an alumna. You know, the only comedian I ever saw while I was there was Bill Cosby, so we know where they stand. And oddly enough, I fell asleep during his show. 

Watch an exclusive clip from Not Safe With Nikki Glaser, below, and catch the show on Comedy Central on Tuesdays at 10:30 EST.