A monthly column, Funny Feminism features conversations with feminist-identifying artists who use humor in their creative work.
Last year, when I moved to New York, a mutual friend of Liz Glazer and I told us that we had to meet. This mutual friend said that Liz was a lawyer and law professor who was about to walk away from a tenured position to focus full-time on standup comedy. The first time I met Liz several months ago, she invited me to check out a weekly night she was co-hosting with her good friend and comedic partner, Rhett Sever. Their night, Say Everything, stood out from traditional standup shows because audience members are actually encouraged to speak up and interrupt the comedian on stage with questions. These questions can throw off a comic with prepared material and these performances become intimate one-of-a-kind detours that often lead to either catharsis or collision. Whatever the outcome, it’s clear that Liz and Rhett are doing something really special and important, as some of the conversations I’ve had with strangers at Say Everything are not ones I’d likely have at any other comedy night and I thank them for that. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance to talk to Liz about her own creative practice immediately after she dragged me to my first and only SoulCycle class. After class, I was drenched in sweat, while Liz, the SoulCycle regular, was glowing. That Liz got me to bust my ass to techno music on a Sunday morning is proof of the sort of energetic draw she has. It’s no wonder she gets people to spill their guts on stage every week. Below are excerpts from our drenched discussion.
Cathy de la Cruz: Can you talk about your journey into comedy? I’m curious about how you went from being a lawyer and a law professor to a comedian.
Liz Glazer: In 2009, I moved to Chicago for the semester because I needed to move away from New York. I was being very self-destructive here. I was in a relationship that wasn’t working. I was doing drugs more than I wanted to be doing drugs. I felt like I maybe could have gone on, but I remember when I got the phone call from Loyola University Chicago, I was like, ‘I’m ready. Just take me somewhere.’ I was really depressed. I went to Chicago for that semester and I started doing improv because I needed to do something unrelated to my job. I took an improv class at IO, which was formerly called Improv Olympic, and became very affected by it. I thought I was terrible at it, but I was just really afraid and I noticed that I was really afraid. Improv forced me into this zone of discomfort, of being vulnerable and being myself and not caring what people were thinking of me when they looked at me, and I had not ever really been exposed to that.