Just as the Earth and its inhabitants seem to have reached their nadir in terms of sheer, mind-boggling lunacy, here comes the world’s largest comedy tour to offer some much-needed comic relief.
The Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival, brought to you by the acclaimed Funny Or Die team, kicks off its fourth year Thursday night at the Perfect Vodka Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach. And a quick look at the lineup offers many compelling reasons to catch it – from “What’s Wrong with People” comic Sebastian Maniscalco, to the lovably “Fluffy” Gabriel Iglesias, to the irrepressible Aussie star Jim Jefferies, plus Cuban-American host Joey “CoCo” Diaz.
But one rising star you won’t want to miss is Iliza Shlesinger, who is making her first appearance on the Oddball Tour, and whose sharp wit and surprisingly physical style allowed her at age 26 to became the youngest person and the only female to win NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” reality TV competition, in 2008.
Since then, Shlesinger, who is particularly adept at satirizing young women’s unique approach to dating and relationships, has been maniacally busy, churning out the hit stand-up specials “War Paint,” “Freezing Hot” and the new “Confirmed Kills” (on Netflix), plus hosting the CBS syndicated comedy dating show “Excused” for 230 episodes and the TBS game show “Separation Anxiety,” as well as creating the ABC digital series “Forever 31.” Oh, and she’s also writing a book, aptly named “Girl Logic,” set to come out in early 2017.
Shlesinger talked to Miami.com about the show, her comedic philosophy, her take on feminism and how being a hot blonde has affected her career.
You’re both the youngest person and the only female to win “Last Comic Standing.” Is that still special to you?
I vacillate between what that means to me – between meaning something and meaning nothing. Because you remember Al Bundy scored four touchdowns in a single game, and like he talked about that forever?
How was the experience for you overall?
It was 2008, so long ago. But I won a quarter-million dollars on national TV in my mid-20s – how do you think it felt? [Laughs].
Steve Martin once said that comedy is not pretty. But you are. Has that ever interfered with your career?
Well, thank you. I think it’s interfered for other people. I think I’m a pretty girl – God, I hope I’m allowed to say that without people hating me – but I don’t think I’m so pretty that it’s blinding. I think for a very long time, women in comedy weren’t pretty, but now I think all women doing comedy – we’re all exclusively pretty, almost. There are a lot of attractive women doing it. So I think it’s a mental leap for a lot of people if they were closed-minded. And to this day, you walk onstage and it’s, “Oh, what’s a girl doing speaking AND breathing!?” So my answer is, it’s been a problem for other people, but I never saw it as an issue.
What’s the most terrifying moment you’ve had professionally?
OK, can I change the question a little bit? I think the saddest moment for me was the first pilot that I made – and I might have been naïve. Despite an executive going out of her way to promise me that it would get picked up, it didn’t. And I remember coming home, and my mother was visiting me, and I was so angry and I just snapped at her. And she was like, what’s this really about? And I just started crying. Because I didn’t understand why nobody wanted me. And now, six failed pilots later, I totally understand why no one wants me [laughs]. It hurts a lot less now – now, it’s like once a year, no problem.
Is there any subject that is taboo for you – like, you just won’t go there?
I am not big on personal sexual anecdotes. I know that’s something that a lot of women go to a lot. I try not to be too raunchy.
You’re great at getting laughs at the expense of ditzy women in dating situations and out at nightclubs and stuff like that. But doesn’t it all kind of come from a feminist viewpoint in a way for you?
Yeah, I’m glad you said that. In the first two comedy specials, it is feminist, because I’m mocking it –it’s satire. In no way am I saying this is the way to be. But in this third special, I’m kind of credited as this girl-whisperer, and girls get me, very lovingly, and only because I’ve been there. So this one, it’s a little more me defending women and less making fun.
You’re coming out with a book next year, “Girl Logic.” What inspired you to do it?
“Girl Logic” is about the thought process that I believe women apply to everything. The short of it is, men are very black-and-white, and women live so deeply in the gray that we always get mocked for not being able to make a decision.
I thought it was important to give some insight into the way we think, and hopefully give girls and women my age feel a little less alone.