Interview'I’m excited to meet the "fboys" of Israel'

Why Nikki Glaser says her stand-up show in Tel Aviv will be ‘the best of the tour’

The comedian, podcaster and reality TV show star says she has ignored calls to cancel Saturday’s Israel show since ‘I just want to tell jokes for people who want to hear them’

Amy Spiro is a reporter and writer with The Times of Israel

Nikki Glaser arrives on the red carpet for the 24th Annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, March 19, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
Nikki Glaser arrives on the red carpet for the 24th Annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, March 19, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

Comedian Nikki Glaser says her upcoming appearance in Tel Aviv – at the tail end of a whirlwind tour of European cities – is bound to be her best yet.

“You always want to see someone on their last show of the tour, because they’re tired, but they’re excited, and they’ve had a lot of time to practice, so it’s honestly going to be the best show on the tour without question,” Glaser told The Times of Israel in an interview just before embarking on her tour. “Don’t tell the other places.”

The stand-up comic, reality TV host, podcaster and late-night TV fixture is heading to Israel for the very first time, and will perform one show in Tel Aviv on May 27.

“I know plenty of Israeli people and they’re always nice and cool, so I expect it to be no different,” she said of her expectations for her inaugural visit to the country.

As a vegan, Glaser said she has heard Tel Aviv is full of great places for her to eat, and — since it’s her last stop — she hopes to extend her visit for a few days and check out the culinary scene.

“I’ve heard good recommendations, and that’s always what I’m most excited about going to a city – performing and then also eating,” she said.

Glaser said she has received some comments from people calling on her to support the cultural boycott against Israel due to its Palestinian policies and cancel her performance, but she is unfazed by the messages.

“You could argue not visiting pretty much anywhere,” she said, noting that also includes a number of states in the US whose policies she disagrees with. “I’m deeply ignorant to world issues, so that helps me, but also I just want to tell jokes for people who want to hear them. There’s not a political statement in my tour.”

If Glaser makes any statements in her stand-up, they’re about female empowerment, being unashamed to be who you are and speaking publicly about issues some would rather keep quiet.

“I do believe that being completely honest and sharing things that I’m ashamed of, feel shame about, is just so therapeutic, feels so good, and it feels so good when people relate to that,” she said. “I love the fact that people comment on the fact that I am so honest and open, even if they think it’s TMI [too much information] – it’s a sign that I am not ashamed.”

Glaser has a reputation for laying it all out on the stage. But after 20 years in stand-up comedy, she said she is not afraid of being “canceled” for a joke – even though she said she never intends harm with her act.

“The worst thing about being canceled is being misunderstood, because I know deep in my soul that I would never want to hurt anyone with my comedy,” she said. At the same time, she noted, “I’m not scared of it, because I can’t really control it and the only thing I can do by being scared of it is censor [myself] and make me not have fun as an artist. So I just gotta risk it.”

Nikki Glaser, from left, Alec Baldwin, Robert De Niro and Caitlyn Jenner participate in the Comedy Central Roast of Alec Baldwin at the Saban Theatre on Sept. 7, 2019, in Beverly Hills, California. (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Glaser arrives in Tel Aviv at perhaps the busiest point in her career: she is a fixture of Comedy Central roasts and the host of a popular podcast. She filmed an HBO comedy special last year and has another coming up. She starred in an E! reality series “Welcome Home Nikki Glaser?” and recently finished third on “The Masked Singer,” spurring her to consider exploring a musical career.

She is also the host of the raunchy reality dating show “FBoy Island,” which spent two seasons on HBO before being picked up by the CW. On the show, three women are introduced to a crop of men who have self-identified ahead of the show as being either “nice guys” or “fuckboys” (womanizers who mislead their bevy of romantic partners). The women attempt to figure out who is who as they seek out a potential mate.

Both seasons of “FBoy Island” so far have featured Israeli contestants… who were both ultimately revealed to be fuckboys. Is Glaser concerned that in Tel Aviv she’ll encounter a city full of them?

“That’ll make me feel at home — fboys feel like a product of America; that is not abnormal to me, those will feel like my people,” she said. “I’m excited to meet the fboys of Israel.”

When she does take the stage in Tel Aviv on Saturday night, Glaser said, she wants her audience to be ready to go on a journey.

“I talk about what it’s like to be a person in the modern world and dealing with the anxieties of life… everything from suicide to pedophiles to my dating life, relationships, domestic abuse – it sounds like a pretty grim setlist, but I promise the whole thing is funny,” she said. “I strive to be – obviously, funny – but to talk about things that people are talking about, and find a way to make them funny so we can talk about them.”

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