A long line of groundbreaking female comics from Joan Rivers to Sarah Silverman have tackled taboo subject matter with subversive wit, braggadocio and impeccable timing. Next in line, and coming to Tokyo to perform on June 7, is Los Angeles-based comedian Iliza Shlesinger.
“Women are not used to dealing with rejection when it comes to sex,” quips Schlesinger during her 2018 Netflix stand-up special Elder Milliennial. “We are used to dealing with rejection when it comes to the idea of, I don’t know, governing our own bodies, having our own thoughts, getting paid the same for the same job a man does.”
Originally from Dallas, Shlesinger is the only female and youngest comedian to win NBC’s talent competition show, Last Comic Standing. She filmed her fifth Netflix special this month, and in addition to numerous television and film credits, she headlined Montreal’s coveted Just For Laughs Festival and The New York Comedy Festival.
On her podcast, Ask Iliza Anything, Shlesinger provides life advice to strangers, sometimes with the assistance of a celebrity guest, such as Nia Vardalos, Dr. Drew Pinsky or Iliza’s own father, Fred.
Ahead of her Tokyo appearance, Shlesinger took time to answer questions from TW, and offer sage advice.
What’s the first thing you want to do in Tokyo?
I’ve been to Tokyo a few times but, honestly, wandering around never gets old. That being said how could I stay away from something as beautifully titled as Piss Alley? Maybe I’ll get a great cup of matcha and go to the new Tsukiji Fish market early, see a few temples and then do something really culturally Japanese like get drunk, sing karaoke, vomit on my shoes and fall asleep on the train like a proper salaryman.
Tokyo has 160,000 restaurants. How are you going to choose where to eat?
So many McDonald’s, so little time. My husband is a chef and speaks enough Japanese that we don’t come off as ugly Americans. He has a food map planned out. It’s so easy to eat all day in Tokyo so we have to be careful. Last time we were there Bird Land was closed so, I know he wants to go there. I just want to eat, everything.
Your Who’s the Boss theme song cover – as heard on your podcast – is spot on. How come you didn’t go into music instead of comedy?
So insane that the hold music at my publicists’ office is what inspired that weird song and now a writer across the world is asking me about it. I didn’t go into music because no one wants to hear me gibberish talk over an electric keyboard… The main reason I didn’t go into music was no drive or talent. But that’s never held anyone else back so I don’t know why I allowed it to. That being said, phase II of my career will be me releasing a 12-part CD set of songs about my dog, Blanche. Most of them are three seconds long and all about how small she is.
What can people expect at your Tokyo show?
I will have just filmed my fifth Netflix special, so they will be the first foreign audience to see me after that. I’ll be doing that new material, a lot of it is about the insanity of getting married, I think it’s universal. I need to get a sense of who is in the audience that night and play it by ear, I’m really looking forward to it.
Since you offer life advice on your podcast, we would like to ask for your insight on a couple of things. Japan is suffering from population decline due to low birth rate. What advice do you have for Japan’s younger generation to reverse this trend?
Have you considered not blurring out private parts in your porn? I feel like it gives a warped understanding of genitals. I don’t know if an American is in a position to give advice on sexual freedom, we struggle quite a bit with that concept in our own ways.
What advice do you have for a guy trying to get his wife into anime cosplay?
I’d recommend writing for an online publication, pretend your personal agenda is a hypothetical reader’s question and stick it in at the end of an interview with a comic.
Find information about Iliza Shlesinger’s June 7 performance at Shibuya Face on our events listing.