American stand up comedy queen Iliza Shlesinger is back in town, her second Australia tour in as many years. Alex Jae spoke to Shlesinger about fan-made gifts, uplifting people during the bushfire crisis and her secret, self-penned indie film.
After rising to the top of the American comedy scene, Iliza Shlesinger has gone from strength to strength touring the globe and increasing in popularity at an incredible rate. “I didn’t set out with an expectation. When you start you’re just like god I hope people come to the show. I think the fans are responding to the authenticity, and I genuinely care about our interactions and the content and the messages I put out there, and I think that people have naturally responded to that. Their love for me is a result of my love for them and it’s just this constant exchange between us.”
Shlesinger has managed to create a community of fans so dedicated that they come bearing personalised homemade gifts and swag to every show. “It’s really special and it’s not something that I asked for and I don’t know how I ended up this lucky," she notes. "It’s never lost on me that people are taking time and money to make me a present that expresses who they are and I get to know more about them. Sometimes the letters are deeply personal, sometimes things are funny, and they’re always related to my act, which lets me know people are listening which is what you want as a comedian.”
The new tour is called Forever, which is an “homage to one of my jokes where I say ‘Forever’, also I feel like I’ll be touring forever,” she jokes. Shlesinger finds touring both enjoyable and exhausting, but doesn’t ever want to stop. “I have the best job in the world. My favourite part is connecting with the fans and the energy, and getting to see not only my country but the rest of the world, and seeing not so much the different things that make people laugh but reinforcing the idea that at our core we are all actually the same.”
Shlesinger always wants the experience of her show to be a way for people to relax and have fun and forget about their problems for a while, which she acknowledges is especially important for Australia following our recent bushfire tragedies. “I really want people to leave and forget anything bad that they’re going through. The US are such allies, especially in California which is always on fire, and our hearts break for you. I know that myself and a lot of comics are doing everything within our tiny power to help you guys. I’ve worked with Team Rubicon getting donations over in Australia and we’re trying to set up with the promoters some sort of donation boxes. I just want to uplift people. That’s what I want for every show, but Australia deserves it now more than ever. I’m very honoured to be giving that to you guys”.
In addition to selling out theatres across the globe, Shlesinger has also been working on numerous TV and film projects as of late, notably her third feature film starring alongside Mark Wahlberg, Spenser Confidential, which was directed by Peter Berg and premieres on Netflix 6 March. It's a film that Shlesinger describes as a “hard-hitting fun action movie”. Meanwhile, flexing her acting chops, she has also just wrapped up a dramatic role in feature film Pieces Of A Woman, alongside Shia LaBeouf and Vanessa Kirby.
The comedian has also been on both sides of the camera recently, as she wrapped production on an independent feature film which she wrote and starred in herself. “I wrote a movie and we have a distribution deal. Now we’re in the editing process and so that will be a labour of love. At the end of the day, I’m really proud that I wrote a script and that people believed in me and went along on that ride with me.” When asked if the storyline of the independent film is top secret, Shlesinger says, “I can tell you that it’s a true story that happened to me, and if you’re a super fan you might know what that story is! That’s all I can say.”
On top of all that, keep your eyes peeled for The Iliza Shlesinger Sketch Show coming out on Netflix this year. “Sketch was my first love growing up, I would write my own sketches and in college I was in a sketch group," Shlesinger says. "Getting the chance to tell my jokes and use my point of view and funnel it through characters and sketches instead of stand-up is something I’ve been looking forward to doing. It’s just another way to convey a point of view, I’m so proud of it and can’t wait to show everyone what the inside of my brain looks like.”