Want my job? with Liza Treyger, comedian

"When I started comedy I didn’t realize it could be a job, I just loved it and wanted to do it every day. So while I did comedy I was a salon receptionist, waitress, and back-up nanny... I also majored in sociology so once you do that you’re never going to have a real job."

Want my job? with Liza Treyger, comedian

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader? 

Helllllo, I’m a stand up comic from the states who currently has all her stuff in storage and has no home. I started stand up in Chicago then went to New York and hopefully to LA soon to try and get rich but also might spend all my money on this tour through the UK and Europe so we shall see if I stay homeless or become rich. I love pop female vocalists, art museums, roof tops, espresso martinis, any body of water I can swim in, and comedy, of course.  

What does your job involve? Give us the typical outline of a day? 

LOL. I usually get to do whatever I want which sounds like I’m bragging and I am. I love to lounge and being a stand up comic allows for tons of lounging and like, watching TV, reading magazines, or going to the theater is “research” you can write off on your taxes! 

I perform at night and I love that. I’m a night owl, so I do shows most nights of the week and it ranges from short sets around town or travelling and doing hours and longer sets on the road. Yeah, a lot of my life is travelling and being in planes and hotels. I HATE PACKING. Extra special days of my job are when I get to be on the set of a show or movie, or on a podcast or radio show, or in a room writing with people. Those days I do have to wake up early and be somewhere but it’s worth it because there are snacks and friends and it’s just a dream come true. 

What’s great about your job? 

I answer to nobody except the mobs on Twitter. I can say yes or no to whatever I want and say what I want. I owe nobody nothing. So I enjoy the freedom for sure. I also love the people I work with, like fellow comedians or my reps and costume and make-up departments, and even meeting people after shows. I love friends. Seeing the world is another great perk. I can’t believe I get paid to travel and tell people my jokes. I cry from joy a lot. 

What are the bits you don’t like or find challenging? 

The work and money goes up and down and I’m bad at saving so that’s hard. Like sometimes you’re living the life and then you don’t know if you’ll pay rent next month, but people assume you’re rich because the other month you were in mexico lounging on a beach. Having a bad show sucks and is a challenge to not let it ruin your night. Like if I didn’t respond to a heckler in the way I wanted that will haunt me for years. I also hate having to sit with dense annoying men at comedy clubs who want to argue about when rapists can come back to work and why women don’t just go to the police when they’ve been assaulted. It’s like hello the cops are just as fucking dumb as you guys. 

What are the highlights of your career to date? 

OMG tooooo many to remember. Everything is so exciting and huge. I would say when my friend Megan Gailey and I moved away from Chicago to NYC and our friends threw us a going away roast and everyone made fun of us and then we roasted everyone and then we went back and forth roasting each other and it was a true dream. 

Getting booked for the Just for Laughs festival in Montreal as an unrepped new face and then I got repped by my dream people and partied and made a fun web series with my friend Sabrina Jalees. Doing my half hour specials with Comedy Central and Netflix were huge moments and doing late night with seth meyers meant a lot too. 

Being at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival made me so happy – well, anytime I’ve gotten international travel I’ve felt very special. Being cast in Horace and Pete and the Untitled Hannah Simone Pilot was super cool. 

OMG I just filmed a small part in a Judd Apatow movie. Getting passed at the Comedy Cellar and The Comedy Store both meant a lot to me too. 

Yeah... I just really have had a great run. Getting booked for the new year’s shows at Zanies in Chicago made me feel great too! Also just this week this super hip cool venue I’ve been going to for like a decade let me use the employee bathroom and wow did that feel amazing. It would also be a lie to not include my first TV set on Adam Devine’s House Party and then being able to do Chelsea Lately was beyond my wildest dreams as a young comic in Chicago. 

How did you get into an arts job?  Have you also worked outside the arts? 

When I started comedy I didn’t realize it could be a job, I just loved it and wanted to do it every day. So while I did comedy I was a salon receptionist, waitress, and back-up nanny. Before that I always worked with kids at summer camps or taught swim lessons and PE. I also majored in sociology so once you do that you’re never going to have a real job. 

Can you describe your biggest challenge so far in your career? How did you overcome it? 

I would say it was back when I would be booked at one of my favorite clubs so much, and would do like 7-10 shows a week, but then I started only getting 1 spot a week if that for a year or so and it really fucked with my brain. I put a lot of value of myself into that place and when I wasn’t there I cried and was sad. But then I realized I could perform everywhere, and then further realized never does one place define me or my worth as a stand up. I’m never going to stop whether I’m accepted in once place or another. It’s always amazing to be there but I’m happy to go to Brooklyn. 

Have you noticed any changes in the industry? If so, what? 

Yeah I think the vibe is different. It’s moved away from lone loser with no life telling jokes in front of a brick wall to well dressed fun people that enjoy their lives and like to dance together after shows. But I don’t know if that’s industry changes or just how my eyes were open to different people. But I also haven’t been in the industry for too long so who knows but it just seems like it’s a more fun supportive party than in the past and that there are so many outlets you can be yourself and find your audience. 

I’ve also noticed podcasts are everything and you can be so successful if people like your podcast. 

And this is an obvious answer but diversity!!! The festival line ups and like half-hour and 15 minute comedy specials are filled with tons of different people not eight white men and then a woman and a person of color. It’s a lot of different voices and it’s better to watch. 

You’ve been granted the ability to send a message to 16-year-old you. What do you say? 

Feel better about yourself and be a full blown slut. Have sex with everyone of every gender and don’t let rejection get you down. Dress like a slut because you’re only gonna get fatter and older. 

Do you have any advice for young people interested in doing your kind of job?

Enjoy the journey and don’t only think of the end goal because it’s gonna probably take over a decade maybe two decades to get where you think you want to be so if you’re not enjoying it, get lost. It’s annoying being around people that complain about the road or waiting at open mics or that auditions suck or road tripping for 15 hours to do one set at a festival across the country; it’s part of it and if it’s awful to you, go away and find another goal. Stop having expectations. Don’t look for short cuts. You can’t fake experience. Do the work. Go out every night and do as many sets as you can for years and make friends with your peers. Don’t be a star fucker. Learn lessons. Be creatively fulfilled and don’t create just to get things or what you think someone would want. Don’t blame the audience and always give the best show possible. Get over yourself and what you thought your set was going to look like, some of these people got babysitters, paid for parking, got tickets and a two drink minimum and could be celebrating a huge thing in their lives, give them a fucking show and stop being selfish of what jokes you wanted to work out at that moment. But mostly make friends and have fun and realize you might never make a living doing it and be okay with that and if you’re not then go find another gig.

For more information about Liza's European tour, visit her website: http://www.glittercheese.com/shows

Header Image Credit: Provided


Sienna James

Sienna James Voice Team

Formerly Assistant Editor, Sienna now studies History of Art at the University of Cambridge and loves to write about the intersection of politics, history and visual art. Sienna is author of the Creative Education and Instaviews series.

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