Iliza Shlesinger from "Last Comic Standing" in Beaver Creek
Vail CO, Colorado
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado ” Iliza Shlesinger knows all about crappy jobs. She once worked in a Speedo store, where she had to feign approval as European men strutted around in tiny bathing suits.
At an ad agency in Los Angeles, her boss regaled her with tales of his coke addiction in the ’80s.
And as an assistant for an online gaming company, she discovered just how square cubicle culture can be.
But Shlesinger, 25, always knew deep down that she would somehow make a living being funny.
“I remember thinking to myself: ‘I’m going to quit (my office job) because I’ve been doing stand-up at night. I’ve been working really hard and I’m excited to make that leap,'” she said in a phone interview this week.
Making the leap paid off. Shlesinger won season six of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” in August. The comedienne performs with four other finalists from “Last Comic Standing” Saturday night during a sold-out show at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek.
Shlesinger was the first woman to ever win “Last Comic Standing,” but she doesn’t like to harp on the whole female comedienne thing. “Funny is funny,” she argues, regardless of whether the performer is male or female.
Shlesinger does have plenty of material about girl behavior, but her stand-up branches into other areas. In one routine she talks about how Americans will eat any food with its own commercial. She cites a Pizza Hut ad that entices customers to buy pizza with free cheesy bread and marinara dipping sauce.
“Cheesy bread? Marinara sauce? Folks ” that’s pizza,” Shlesinger said. “Amazing that Americans’ favorite side dish to pizza is pizza … reconfigured. That’s all that is.”
Shlesinger also takes playful digs at office culture. In one routine, she describes a 350-pound co-worker who shops at Dress Barn and decorates her cubicle with wind chimes.
“The only time these things make noise is when she sits down and the air around her implodes, creating this, like, whirlwind gust through the office,” Shlesinger said. “Every day around 1:30 it’s like whoosh ding-a-ling-a-ling …”
Although many comedians trace their sense of humor to a dysfunctional past, Shlesinger confesses to a typical suburban childhood.
“I had a normal happy upbringing, sprinkled with typical characters from a Texas upbringing, everything from the coach who pushes too hard to rigid school teachers, to people telling you you’re going to hell for not being their religion, so a typical upbringing with a Southern twist,” she said.
Shlesinger was a member of a comedy sketch group at Emerson College in Boston, where she majored in film. She had been doing stand-up in Los Angeles for three years before her big break on “Last Comic Standing.” She currently hosts a humorous show called “The Weakly News” on http://www.thestream.tv.
One thing Shlesinger hasn’t been doing is blowing the quarter million dollars she won on “Last Comic Standing.”
“I’ve invested it and left it alone because nothing is promised in stand-up comedy and the best you can hope for is the ability to be able to work freely and not have to worry about money,” she said. “So that is rainy day money for when people start to hate me.”
High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2938 or email@example.com.