Just over 20 years into her comedy career, standup comic, revered roast-master, podcaster, and reality TV host Nikki Glaser has gone and done the unexpected – she’s started a career in music.
Now, before cynics brush off the idea of a comedian taking the huge risk of attempting to become a legitimate singer-songwriter, they should hear Glaser’s voice, which she showcased on national TV when she placed third on this season of FOX’s “The Masked Singer.”
Performing as “Snowstorm,” she reached the semifinals, only losing to Wilson Phillips and season eight winner Amber Riley, after performing songs by Ariana Grande, Carly Simon, Katy Perry and Kelly Clarkson.
“By the time I was unmasked, they had already said I might be Sabrina Carpenter or Olivia Rodrigo,” Glaser said of her experience on the show. “So I was already being compared to good singers when they didn’t know it was me. It was the perfect way to earn my chops and have no one go, ‘What is this comedian doing? Singing love songs?’”
Glaser told REVUE that her foray into singing actually started back during the pandemic, when she moved back home with her parents in St. Louis for 10 months, which was documented on her E! reality series “Welcome Home Nikki Glaser.”
“I always wanted to be a singer,” Glaser said. “But I think that I’m also someone who’s not very comfortable with sincerity and emotions. So, comedy was just a natural way for me to get that same kind of catharsis out, but not be too sincere, because sincerity kind of makes me cringe and go like, ‘Who do you think you are?’”
When COVID-19 closed up all the comedy clubs in 2020 and took that outlet away from her – after constantly getting up onstage, staying busy performing and all over the country years – Glaser returned to music with her father, who’s a singer, and picked up a guitar to get her feelings out another way.
Working with her best friend and opening act, singer-songwriter Anya Marina, and her tour manager who’s in the band The Natural Lines, Glaser quietly created an album, and eventually released a song inspired by her friend and mentor Bob Saget shortly after his passing last year. She got scorned by the comedy community for doing so, and she put her dream on hold until she had the opportunity to prove herself on “The Masked Singer.”
“Luckil,y when I perform stand up, I have a mask of makeup on that helps me feel very confident,” Glaser said. “Dressing for the part really helps. That’s why I dress like Taylor Swift on my tour. It just makes me feel like a star every night, because I’m still kind of like pinching myself that I’m getting to do these amazing theaters around the country.”
During the filming of “The Masked Singer,” Glaser discovered that she actually needed vocal cord surgery. So before heading back out and doing comedy, she underwent the procedure and had three weeks of recovery where she couldn’t talk at all.
“That three weeks of recovery was terrifying, because I have not shut up for more than three hours before,” Glaser said. “I thought I would really have some kind of existential crisis or discover something about myself. But I just learned it really made me appreciate how funny I actually am, because I think, like most artists, I doubt myself even at this thing that I clearly am very successful at. I kind of have imposter syndrome sometimes.”
In addition to getting validation from Jeff Tweedy and Wilco, who appeared with her in an episode of Apple TV’s “Carpool Karaoke” late last fall, Glaser got a big boost of confidence just days before our interview, when she met Jerry Seinfeld for the first time as both comedians performed in Atlantic City.
“We’re walking through the bowels of the casino, and I get over to his greenroom and he greets me,” Glaser said. “And he was like, ‘I’m such a fan, I’ve watched everything you do. I pull up your YouTube clips all the time whenever I want a laugh. And you’ve got it, girl, you have the voice...’
“So ever since that day, I felt like whenever I doubt myself, Jerry Seinfeld likes me and I can’t doubt him. So he must be right.”
Seinfeld is not alone in admiring Glaser’s work, including her latest hour-long special, “Good Clean Filth,” now streaming on HBO Max. In i,t she candidly discusses sex, fame, family, and reality TV in in a way not intending to shock, but to be open and honest.
“That’s the trick to doing comedy,” Glaser said. “If you want to be funny, just say what is true for you. Even if it’s not right or it’s wrong. As long as you’re not coming from a hateful place, just say what’s true. And it will always be funny because everyone, everyone is putting on a mask. Everyone is trying to present a different way. Even if you don’t even think you are, if you just say what’s true, it’s the funniest.”
Nikki Glaser: The Good Girl Tour
Kalamazoo State Theatre
404 S. Burdick St., Kalamazoo
Jan. 19 and Jan. 20,
6 p.m. doors, 7 p.m. show, $43.50+
(269) 345-6500, kazoostate.com