Winning Last Comic Standing is a blessing and a curse. The blessing, of course, is that as a comedian you’ve scored a tremendous amount of face time on prime time network television. The curse comes in the form of outside pressure to go on and prove you’re not just a flash in the pan. For Iliza Shlesinger, who won season six of the NBC competition series in 2008, it has worked out well.
Over the last five years, the Dallas native has leveraged her early television exposure and slowly built up a following based on her strong live performances at our nation’s finer comedy clubs. The culmination of that work can be seen in her new one-hour special War Paint, now available on Netflix to stream and on CD, DVD and digital download. Since Shlesinger deals with a lot of boy/girl issues on War Paint, we thought we’d reach out to her and delve a little more deeply into the topic. Check out our interview below.
You turned 30 this year. Are you the type of person that stresses out about age or do you not care?
Society puts a lot of pressure – particularly on women – on turning 30. For me it was more like, ‘I’m turning 30, big deal.’ I think societal pressure make us wired to care. But if I actually sat down and thought about it– no, I don’t care. Sometimes you’ll meet a woman and she’s like, ‘I just turned 50 and I never felt sexier’ and it’s like, ok, while that’s great, it’s probably a lie you’re telling yourself.
But I will say about turning 30, it’s almost as if you shed a layer of giving a fuck. You’ve lived enough by 30 that your opinion kind of counts. Like, if you’re 22 and you’re trying to tell me how life is I genuinely don’t want to hear it— unless you’ve lived through a civil war or something. It’s a good age and I’m ok with it. There are little changes. We’re all going to die so we all might as well relax and enjoy being 30— and enjoy your new sex drive, because that happens.
I think so. I haven’t had a ton of sex recently. I will say this: I’ve always dated older guys. And now if a guy comes up to me and he’s 28 I’m like, ‘You’re just a baby and I want nothing to do with you’ because our society has this whole thing with cougars and I don’t find it funny at all.
Do you date older guys because men are emotionally behind women? Has that been your experience?
I’m a big fan of men. For the last four years, I’ve made a pretty decent living; I pay for everything I do and I own a home. Because of my industry, it’s difficult to find men at my age or younger who are at a similar level. And that’s not tooting my horn, but it’s like, ‘Hey do you want to go on vacation or spend the next two days watching re-runs of Burn Notice in my house?’ And they can’t because they’re not at that level. You have to go up a bit, be a little older. They have to accomplish a little more. I realize that my career is an anomaly. The last few guys I dated… one guy had like three roommates and one guy was totally broke. But they were cool guys. But unless you’re a trust fund kid or a genius you’re probably not going to have a ton of money in your 20s.
Yeah, it’s just hard to be on the same page if your incomes are drastically different I guess.
When I was in my early 20s I was dating someone who was 37; super gross, but whatever. He was a comic. So I had a day job and he didn’t so I would look at him lovingly and say, ‘Wow, he can wake up when he wants, his whole day his free and that’s how my life needs to be.’ And now I have that. And being a comic – and I’m not playing a violin – can be a very lonely existence, because you don’t have to be anywhere until 9 pm and any guy you date is probably going to have a real job. I hung out with this one guy who had to work all day and by the time he was done at 8 at night, he was exhausted and that’s when I’m first taking a shower and revving my engine to go out.
Are you dating anyone now?
No, I’m not thrilled with that, but no. The guys I talk to on a continual basis probably beg to differ, but I’m not dating anyone.
Are you the type of person who prefers being in a relationship?
I do. And the other thing is when we’re in your 20s nobody wants to be in a relationship. And the other thing – and this started when I was in middle school – women have been condemned and chastised for wanting to be in relationships. Guys will say in college that they don’t want to be pressured, they don’t want to settle down. Women have evolved and there’s this new kind of woman now where it’s like, ‘I don’t want to settle down either.’ They’re responding to men’s opinion. They don’t want to be cornered, they don’t want to be pinned down. So now you have men and women actively avoiding each other and not settling down. It’s a weird phenomenon we’re experiencing.
The whole reason women want to be in a relationship is chemical. They have a biological clock and by like 45, you’re done. It’s a very small window to get married and have a baby and men are always like, ‘She’s pressuring me to have a baby.’ Yeah! The window is closing. Shit’s gonna dry up, son.
Are guys programmed to do the opposite? Do they just want to keep on spreading their seed?
Yep, women are taught that men are stupid and men are taught that women are annoying. But we’re just two totally different creatures. And the best you can hope for is to find some common ground. Whatever works for you— and I would like a boyfriend. However, if you look like a bridge troll and you’re reading this article, please don’t Facebook me.
Everyone wants to be in a relationship or be happy but I feel like the universe is telling me right now, ‘Look, you’ve had a ton of boyfriends and you’re going to sit this one out now and you’re not going to date anyone for a while.’ And it’s like I’ve literally haven’t seen an attractive guy in the last three weeks; any guy I find remotely attractive doesn’t see me. I have like an invisibility cloak over me— or I have a sign on the back of me that says, ‘If you look like a hob-goblin then please ask me out.’ There’s something in the air.
Do you get approached by guys a lot?
Yes, all the time and always by the worst looking guy. Never an attractive guy. It’s always a guy with like a lazy eye and an acne beard and like a claw. And they’re like, ‘Hey, I saw you working out…” and it’s like, ‘Go back under the bridge!’
I never understood where guys get their confidence.
My guy friends tell me it’s all about the law of averages. If one guy hits on 100 girls, he’s bound to get a bite. One’s going to say yes. And I appreciate being included in this experiment. And as a girl you can’t help but walk away and say, ‘Am I so hideous that this guy thought I was attainable?’ But really it has nothing to do with you. I think if you have any confidence, the more society tells you that you’re not the archetype of perfection, the more the person rebels. And the best example of that is the overweight black woman. Everyone knows an overweight black woman who is just sassy as fuck. And she’s like, ‘My curves are beautiful. I love my body. I’m a queen.’ And you’re like, ‘Oh my god, that’s crazy because of all the societal standards. And yet you’re walking around with all the confidence in the world while I – in a size two – am in a corner crying because I think a dress makes me look fat. How is this fair? With guys it really comes down to ‘Do you have a big penis?’ If yes, you’re going to be a very confident person.
Why did you go naked on the cover of War Paint?
Because I wanted people to click on it. I’d be lying if I said anything else. It was 100 percent, straight-up marketing. But you have to show your sexuality in droplets. If you’re naked all the time people get sick of it. Obviously the next cover won’t look like that. It’s just going to be a shot of my vagina.
It’s not a crime to NOT hate yourself.
I definitely do enough of that onstage so I think this makes up for it. Also, if I wanted to go with the societal norm I would’ve Photoshopped my breasts higher or worn a pushup bra. It’s so funny… any guy I’ve ever dated has been like, ‘You’ve got great boobs.’ And now with the cover, every once in a while you’ll get like 16 year old kid saying, ‘Oh your boobs are saggy.’ And it’s like, ‘No, no, this is what women’s breasts look like but you watch a lot of porn and you don’t know any better.’ If I didn’t have compliments of every guy I dated I probably wouldn’t know if they look ok or not. And I had five women with me that day and they’re like, it looks fine.