Comedian Natasha Leggero performs at The Riviera November 2-4. The Last Comic Standing judge has made a name for herself through her stand-up performances and appearances on shows like Chelsea Lately and Are You There, Chelsea? plus the hilarious web series, Burning Love.
I really enjoyed watching you as a judge on Last Comic Standing and I bet many fans might not know you actually have a background in theater criticism. Could you discuss your education?
I grew up as a child actress, not a child star. I was an actress, big difference. I was always in plays so I wanted to be an actress. I loved the theater so I got a degree in theater criticism when I was in New York and then when I moved to LA, I just thought everyone was so stupid and vapid. I saw this girl I knew doing stand-up and she was basically just telling people how stupid everybody in LA was. I realized you can just critique society and stand on a stage and talk about how stupid everyone is and people like it and they pay you. There isn’t a lot of theater happening in LA and I was able to take that skill of critical thinking and apply it to women with a level 3 Mystic Tan.
How do you feel shows like Last Comic have influenced the world of comedy? Do you think they’ve given some people a sort of fast pass to rise through the ranks?
I think competition shows in general are confusing to people because it’s making people think that’s how the world works and maybe it is how it works for some people right now, some people who have gotten lucky, but ultimately you need to move to a city that doesn’t smell like cow manure and work on your art for 15 years. Reality shows are something to try if you want but ultimately I don’t think there’s any replacement for just doing the work. Which sucks. And by work I mean going up every night and bombing.
Do you have any especially memorable heckling or stories or tales of interesting crowds?
I had a man a couple of weeks ago, an older man who crapped his pants during my set and he went to the bathroom and he was causing all this commotion. He was just wasted. He went to the bathroom to clean himself up and came back and started telling his family what had happened during my set in the front row. I do a lot of crowd work so I finally had to talk to him and he said, “Sorry, I just pooped my pants.” I just couldn’t really believe it. And this was a mature man. I think he was there not only with his kids but his grandkids, too. I guess some people just never grow up.
I know you poke fun at The Bachelor and The Bachelorette in the web series Burning Love but are there any other reality shows out there that you especially love or hate?
We’re doing two more seasons of Burning Love. It was bought by E! I just can’t believe what’s happening on TLC. I’m kind of obsessed with My Strange Addiction. This one woman was addicted to sleeping with her blow dryer between her legs. I actually tried it. It was soothing but I only kept it on for ten minutes. She would keep it on all night and they interviewed her husband and he’s like, “This hair dryer is tearing us apart” with such seriousness. TLC is clearly parading freaks around and pretending like they’re helping people. These people do not have addictions. Fifty years ago these people would be the village idiots but now they have television shows. That’s why it’s a great time to be a comedian, because society is just plummeting. TLC should stand for Toddlers, Lunatics and Cake. How many shows about cupcakes does one country need?
So do you actually like to run around naked like your Burning Love character?
I actually do like to walk around my house naked. I need to get better window treatments. One thing about that was I was wearing nude underwear and they would just blur it out but people kept coming up to me during the shoot saying, “you are so brave,” and I was thinking that I must really have cellulite or something because people would act like it was such a feat that I was doing this. I got worried but they blurred it all anyway.
You looked great, blurry or not.
I looked great blurry. You can just say it.
Can you tell our readers a little about what to expect from your show at The Riviera?
I have no idea! I am a little worried because I am talking about politics right now. I know there are going to be some right-wing people here. Maybe I’ll interview them? Who knows what will happen? I do lots of crowd work and ultimately it’s light. I feel that when you see somebody live you get to see the unedited version of their set.
I know you do a lot of personas and affectations. Do you just like to inhabit another persona? What is the motivation behind that?
I’m from a crappy town in the middle of Illinois called Rockford. People who are born there have dreams one day of maybe moving to Cleveland. They’re all alcoholics and the highlight of their day is going to Panera Bread. I always wanted so much glamour in my life so I have always been obsessed with class and from dating a few people who were from old money and a few from new money in my 20s, I just sort of became obsessed with this idea of clueless rich people. I just love the idea of the sheltered rich person. The chasm between rich and poor is becoming larger and I think it’s interesting terrain to talk about and expose. Was that too deep?