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Comedian Nikki Glaser to perform stand-up on campus this Friday

<p>Comedian Nikki Glaser will perform as a part of DUU's Speakers and Stage series.</p>

Comedian Nikki Glaser will perform as a part of DUU's Speakers and Stage series.

When comedian Nikki Glaser takes the stage Friday evening in Page auditorium, she’ll probably make some fairly outrageous quips. She may riff about millennial intimacy, or muse over the location and quantity of male reproductive material or joke about the idiocy of campus hookup culture.

Do not feel uncomfortable, though. The comedian is here to help.

“I think that people get on board [with my act] because they know I’m coming from a good place,” Glaser said. 

She added that she sees her craft as a tool for informing and warning her audiences about relationship missteps she has made in the past.

Frank discussions about love and sexuality have long been an important tool in Glaser’s substantial comedic tool belt. Her Comedy Central show, “Not Safe,” which finished airing its first season in early August, is centered around creating an open, humorous dialogue about love and romance. In the show’s first episode, Glaser visits a foot fetish party. In another, she interviews a sex worker to better understand the debate around legalizing the sex industry.

Each episode of “Not Safe,” is injected with a healthy dose of lightheartedness. Glaser invites guest comics to spar over the more outrageous details of their love lives, often seeming to enjoy the live chat segments as much as the offbeat taped portions of the show. But “Not Safe” is not just a show about yucks.

“Comedy is what I do, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about things, that I don’t have opinions on things,” Glaser said. “I’m just voicing my opinion the only way I know how, which is through comedy.”

“Not Safe” is just the in latest in Comedy Central’s laugh-to-inform comedy programming, and Glaser said she draws inspiration from the network’s current and former stars. Traces of the “Daily Show” wit of alums John Oliver and Samantha Bee are easily found in the show’s DNA. Amy Schumer, who has tackled serious issues like gun violence, also sets an example for Glaser, she said. In July, “Not Safe” aired a particularly pointed segment about rape on college campuses.

“I think that people are more apt to listen to messages if they’re coated in this comedy candy shell. It’s also a really big challenge to find anything funny to say in the realm of college campus rape,” Glaser said. “And I think comedy works best when you have restrictions and when you feel like, ‘oh my god, we’re doing something that’s difficult.’”

Pointed comedy comes with challenges, though. Not all audiences are open to even brief flashes of comedy-coated substance.

“I was trying to inject a little bit of feminism in [“Not Safe”], but it’s hard when you’re following ‘Tosh.0,’” Glaser said.

Sometimes, though, Glaser just wants to make people laugh. She said she loves the work of Conan O’Brien, a late night talk show host famous for his unadulterated frivolity.

“I vacillate between those things: wanting to change the world and just wanting to be a masturbating bear,” Glaser said, invoking one of O’Brien’s most famous bits.

Life as a televised comedian has taken Glaser to intriguing and unexpected places. She recently finished taping the "Comedy Central Roast of Rob Lowe," which airs Monday night. When I, interested in Lowe’s status as a Duke parent, asked her how she came to speak at the roast, Glaser couldn’t resist a joke.

“I met [Lowe’s] sons, they were both really nice. They came up and thanked all of the roasters for how funny they were, which was really sweet. They were upstanding young boys,” she said.

“I got the gig because I had to perform sexual favors for Rob Lowe.”

When she’s not roasting or producing “Not Safe,” Glaser keeps busy. Duke is just one of a few stops she’s making on her current standup tour. In April, she released an hour comedy special titled, “Perfect.” She’s constantly imagining or producing shorter online or snapchat-only segments for the Comedy Central show. She hosts a podcast.

“You can’t just rely on one thing anymore. You have to be multi-faceted. It’s a pain in the a**," she said. “But it’s fun.”

As Glaser comes to Duke, she finds herself in an important moment. Comedy Central has yet to renew “Not Safe” for a second season. But whatever her future, Glaser said she will continue to work hard to inform and entertain.

“Whatever iteration [of “Not Safe”] we do next, it’s very important to me to make it more diverse than we even have been so far.”

Glaser said she particularly wants to challenge the notion that women and girls should suppress their funny impulses. It’s a very serious idea, so of course Glaser related it with the necessary levity.

“It’s not that women aren’t funny, it’s that we’re discouraged from being funny when we’re young, when that development happens. I think that’s a huge thing, that white men are told that they’re greatest all the time,” she said. “Why wouldn’t they rise to the f**king top? But I’m bringing white males down. That’s my goal.”

Nikki Glaser will be performing as a part of DUU's Speakers & Stage series alongside opener Phoebe Robinson. Tickets for the event can be purchased through the Duke box office. 


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