Iliza Shlesinger will be at the Tempe Improv April 17-19.
Iliza Shlesinger will be at the Tempe Improv April 17-19.
Cliff Lipson

Iliza Shlesinger on Offending Both Sexes, Last Comic Standing, and the Downfall of Reality TV

"I slipped and fell, hit my head, and then when I came to, I had a career."

According to Iliza Shlesinger, that's the short and "less boring" version of how she got into stand-up comedy.

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Shlesinger might not be a household name just yet for stand-up comedy, but with two Netflix specials, a half-hour on Comedy Central, and a successful podcast under her belt, the winner of the sixth season of Last Comic Standing is well on her way to becoming the next big star in stand-up.

The Dallas native will perform at the Tempe Improv April 17 through 19, and promises to bring her signature brand of "observational, intelligent, self-deprecating, and super cute" humor to the Valley.

"I'm an equal offender of both sexes," Shlesinger says. "Every story I tell on stage happened to me, and people find it funny because it really resonates with them."

Though some people might recognize Shlesinger from her time hosting the dating show Excused, her material isn't necessarily based around dating itself.

"It's more about the interactions between men and women," Shlesinger says. "I don't really date at all, I just have boyfriends. I don't use Tinder or anything like that. You're going to have your stereotypes and your stories from every relationship."

Aside from the jokes and stories that have come from her relationships, a lot of her material is simply based on her everyday experiences.

"I've observed a lot of girls, and I've lived through my 20s," she says. "I've been the girl walking home barefoot or holding someone's hair back. I've been the girl who gets way too drunk before the party even starts."

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Shlesinger grew up a fan of sketch comedy, rather than having stand-up heroes.
Shlesinger grew up a fan of sketch comedy, rather than having stand-up heroes.
Cliff Lipson

Just because she still likes to talk about how men and women interact doesn't mean you'll see Shlesinger back on reality television anytime soon, but that's not to say she didn't enjoy her time on network TV.

"Anyone who says Last Comic Standing is a bad idea is clearly afraid of success. How could it be bad to have your jokes heard on network television and get all of that exposure?" Shlesinger says. "I won it at pretty much the peak of reality TV [in 2008]. Winning the show allowed me to skip a lot of the middle steps of my career."

For Shlesinger, a televised stand-up contest is a far cry from what is considered reality TV these days. While Shlesinger isn't the biggest fan of current reality shows, she fully admits to sinking plenty of time into the genre roughly a decade ago.

"Reality TV now is 100 percent scripted garbage, it's totally different than a comedy competition like Last Comic Standing," Shlesinger says. "I don't watch any of it anymore. I think I watched enough in the 2000s for my entire life. I even watched all of Rock of Love."

Much like the rise and fall of Bret Michaels' VH1 show, Shlesinger believes her shows at the Tempe Improv could blindside you if you're not ready for it.

"It's a fast-paced, hard-hitting invitation to a girl's craziness. . . Women leave relieved because someone else understands their craziness, and men leave relieved because they think they understand their girl's craziness better," she says. "Also, [expect] light blood when you urinate, chest compressions, and a two-drink minimum."

When she's not touring and giving audience possible members medical concerns, Shlesinger enjoys performing her act for the military ("because America!"), as well as some of her hobbies she's joked about in her comedy specials, such as working out, cleaning her dog's face, and "going out for drinks and fun. Girls will know what I mean."

Shlesinger also says she enjoys reading, but that's only to make her sound smart.

Iliza Shlesinger will be at the Tempe Improv April 17 through 19. Tickets cost $20 (not including the two-drink minimum) and are available on the Improv's website.

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