July 14, 2021
Stand-up comics are supposed to be “crying on the inside” types; They’re funny because they had to use jokes to dissuade childhood bullies from beating them up.
Iliza Shlesinger is not one of these.
In a phone interview with Whatzup, Shlesinger said she became a stand-up comic because she had “an inherent need to be seen and heard.”
“I always had this belief that I was as good as the people around me who were being touted as better,” she said.
High self-esteem and sheer will are the reasons Shlesinger is as successful as she is. You can see her perform at the Foellinger Theatre on July 24.
Ready for Anything
Shlesinger said she’s always believed that there is no obstacle that can’t be traversed and no setback that can’t be overcome.
“Whatever I lack in connections or beauty or perfection, I always make up for it in hard work,” she said. “It’s the only thing you can control.”
The pandemic was certainly something no one could control, but the indefatigable Shlesinger dealt with it by doing a stand-up tour of drive-in theaters and an online cooking show with her husband, Noah Galuten.
A drive-in theater is certainly not the ideal venue for the delivery of jokes, but Shlesinger persevered.
“It’s weird to stand on a stage and have cars honk at you approvingly,” she said. “It feels like our alien overlords took over and that’s how they show affection.”
A stand-up comic who isn’t prepared to perform anywhere under any circumstance may end up having some success in the business, but they will inevitably eat Shlesinger’s dust.
“That’s what you sign up for as a comic,” she said. “With any gig you take, you can always expect that something is going to be weird. Everything is never going to be exactly how you imagine it will be.”
A Lot Like Real Life
Where things that don’t turn out out how we imagined are concerned, stand-up comedy has a lot in common with real life.
Shlesinger made this discovery when she fell in love with a guy she met on a plane and later came to understand that he was lying about everything. She turned this experience into a comedy routine, of course, and then she turned it into a movie.
Good on Paper debuted on Netflix on June 23. Shlesinger wrote the screenplay, and she stars in the film as a version of herself. For her, composing the script was a cathartic experience.
“It very quickly went from catharsis to art,” Shlesinger said. “It was all about the comedy and there was no anger. All the anger dissipated. It wasn’t about revenge, it was about making a really entertaining movie that was truthful.”
Good on Paper has consistently been among Netflix’s top-ten most popular films since it debuted. It may be the finest example of turning lemons into lemonade since a drug company discovered that the unsuccessful ulcer medication we now call Rogaine helped grow hair.
Opening Her Own Doors
When asked if she hopes the film opens new doors to her, Shlesinger said she wants everything to open doors.
“A big part of my career is opening my own doors,” she said. “Right now, we’re right behind movies starring Kevin Hart and Liam Neeson. These guys are huge multimillion dollar box office stars, and our movie was made for a cup of tea and a dollar.
“All I ever want to do is make bigger and better movies, TV shows, and art on my own terms,” Shlesinger said.
Not only did she turn a bad relationship into a successful movie, she traded a compulsive liar for a soulmate.
Shlesinger met Galuten, a professional chef, on a dating app. Anyone who has watched their cooking videos on YouTube can see that Galuten is the yin to Shlesinger’s yang.
“‘Unflappable’ is a good word to describe him,” she said. “It’s not like I’m a maniac and he’s half asleep, but he’s definitely more relaxed. We just complement each other well. We pick each other up when the other one’s down, and he makes all my food, so I can’t leave him.”
Many comics mine their relationships with spouses and other family members for material, but Shlesinger said she’s not going to do that.
“I love my husband,” she said. “He’s a sweet man. He’s my sensitive, delicate better half. I’m more interested in society, why we do the things we do, and my own personal hang-ups.”
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