Iliza Shlesinger has a new standup special, Confirmed Kills, is now available on Netflix Instant. Over the summer, Shlesinger attended a cocktail party for ABC Digital, where she produces and stars in the digital series Forever 31. I got a chance to speak with her about both her series and her special then. You can watch Confirmed Kills on Netflix today and Forever 31 on the ABC Digital app.
What is your new material about in Confirmed Kills?
Iliza Shlesinger: I felt a responsibility to, having broached topics about female behavior in the past, I felt a responsibility to defend women and be more on their side. So there is a big chunk of digestible feminism and busting wide open why and exploring why women are mistreated in society and why we need to be better to ourselves and each other before anybody else will be kinder to us. Then of course I talk about drinking. Then I talk about how much I love Shark Tank.
What freedom does Netflix give you with your standup specials?
Iliza Shlesinger: Total creative freedom. What’s your material? What do you want the set to look like? They’re very good about letting the artist dictate how they want it to come out. Especially being a standup comedian, I’m very used to that. I work alone. I create what I want. People respond to it. Drawing a parallel with Forever 31, ABC Digital, everything that was in my imagination, I put on paper and then they made it happen. You don’t really get that a lot as a performer. You’re usually bogged down with notes and it becomes something you don’t want. Both entities were really good about just letting me be me.
Once a special drops on Netflix, is that material gone from your act?
Iliza Shlesinger: Dead! No, you then tour with it because people want to see that and you start to weave in new things. I’ve already got a brand new, I’d say, 25 minutes.
Tell me about Forever 31.
Iliza Shlesinger: Forever 31 is the best show on the ABC digital platform and it follows me through the vehicle of me having a web series with two other friends. It’s sort of a way to very honestly explore not just dating in your 30s but career stuff and personal development. Like I didn’t want to do a show that was just about dating. So I wanted to be very personal and very honest and ABC was into it.
Is it you playing Iliza Schlesinger?
Iliza Shlesinger: It’s me playing me, like sort of one degree removed from me. So this girl is still a comedian. I had a web show hundreds of years ago.
Before it was cool.
Iliza Shlesinger: Before it was cool. It was called The Weakly News. It was on TheStream.tv. There’s still episodes of it. On it I had Alexis, the girl that I cast in this. She was my sidekick and we had a producer. So I use the vehicle of a web series as a platform to broach the topics for the episode. So I took that from my life and put it into this show.
When it comes to dating, what do you address on Forever 31?
Iliza Shlesinger: You know, it’s all very personal stuff. My brand of comedy isn’t a very raunchy or gritty one. You try to address themes. Thematically we had one about how women are very easily labeled psycho and why that is. Or what it’s like to have your heart broken and how do you retaliate when you’re in your 30s? You can’t kill someone so what do you do? So it’s all very honest and they’re all real stories. Everything that happened in this show happens in real life.
Maybe you can relate to this. Around 2000-2002 I tried online dating because I thought I would put myself up there and match up with someone compatible. Back then everyone said, “How can you date someone you met online? Only weirdos date people online.” Now I’m social enough I can actually meet people in real life and people say, “How can you go out with someone you just met at a bar or in public?”
Iliza Shlesinger: Yeah, the tides have shifted.
“Why don’t you try Match.com? That’s how people meet!”
Iliza Shlesinger: So your beef is that when you were ready, society was like, “We’re over it.”
And when I became social, people didn’t want to be social anymore.
Iliza Shlesinger: I disagree with that. If you walked up to a woman and said, “Hi, my name is Fred. I think you’re pretty.” That’s okay. I think your issue, everybody’s got their issue, so you were insecure and then you became secure and now you’re ready. Some girls would be like, “I wasn’t pretty. Now I am pretty but everyone’s married.” Some guys will be like, “I wasn’t successful, now I’m successful and everyone’s divorced.” I think everybody has their moment where they look at the world and they’re like, “I’m ready now. Why isn’t it working out for me?” That’s a real cornerstone of the show and this character, being like, “Hey, I’m doing all the things right. Why isn’t this working out.”
What’s the format?
Iliza Shlesinger: It’s about even minutes each episode. I wrote eight episodes. They’re pretty digestible. I think the fact that it was short left people wanting more so we’ll see what happens with season two.
What were the other topics?
Iliza Shlesinger: I address a party goblin which is the creature in your head that makes you go crazy when you’re drunk. I talk about the idea of shedding friends as you get older. As you get older you don’t have time for all the friends you used to have. One girl on the show gets cheated on and we address how you figure that out. Then there’s this episode that’s a lot about the web show and trying to make it better. There’s an award show and we don’t win the award. Women never get to address how they feel professionally. So here you are, you’re trying to make the show with your friends. It’s a good show and the award goes to the two girls that want to tell dick jokes all day which is what I rage against in my own comedy. It’s really every aspect of being a girl, a woman in her 30s.