When it comes to comedy these days, having a partner is the best punchline you can ask for. Fred Armisen has his Portlandia pal Carrie Brownstein, Andy Samberg’s forever friends with his Lonely Island crew, and Louis C.K.'s got his trusty potbelly. But, just like real-life besties Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, this new funny girl duo is about to blow up, big time.
Nikki Glaser and Sara Schaefer got their collaborative start cohosting You Had To Be There, a podcast that would invite comedians, celebs, and even Rider Strong (yep, that Rider Strong!) to hang out and chat about lady problems, crappy jobs, personal hardships, and everything else that pops up between their wildly entertaining, long-winded thoughts. Instantly relatable in a Chelsea Handler-meets-your-BFF kind of way, it was only a matter of time before they got noticed — and not just for their PSA begging Justin Timberlake to make new tunes. (It worked!)
With the debut of Nikki & Sara Live — MTV's first stab at live, late-night programming in 18 years! — these brilliant, honest, hardworking girls are about to make history, especially since they’re stepping into TRL’s old digs atop Times Square. So, considering their impending late-night fame kicked off just last night, we asked them to divulge a few nuggets of wisdom they've learned from their days as full-time writers and stand-up comics. From how to strike up a convo with any friend-of-a-friend at the bar to the unexpected pose that'll instantly flourish you with confidence, take a look at this hilarious duo's tips on how to get by, regardless of if you were blessed with their comedic timing.
What's the most efficient way to deal with haters?
Nikki: "I think a face-to-face talk with the person [works], but write it out first. Come prepared, decide with yourself what you're going to admit to, and have boundaries walking in. Usually in these situations, I've been kind of scared of the person that's talking shit about me, so it's important to not acquiesce."
In terms of nerves, what do you do to calm yourself down before something huge? What do you do five minutes before when you're freaking out?
Nikki: "Beta blockers!" (laughs)
Sara: "I have to give myself a pep talk. If I have to say something, I'll say it over, and over, and over again, so it removes the thoughts of fear and what could go wrong. I'm just focusing on what I have to say, even if I already know it. I"ll even sometimes go 'You're gonna do great, you're gonna do great...' just so I have something playing in my brain that isn't failure or embarrassment. You just play a little film that's just nonsense."
Is there anything else you do to focus yourself?
Nikki: "Do the Wonder Woman pose [Ed Note: Head up. Fists on hips] before you go on stage. Go lock yourself in a bathroom, anywhere where you can be alone, but stand in the Wonder Woman pose, confidently, for two or three minutes before you go onstage or do anything that is nerve wracking. And just by standing that way, physiologically, your body will respond and give you more confidence."
Sara: "Studies have been done. We're not just making this up!"
What's the best way to make small talk with strangers?
Sara: Ask questions. I've been learning over the years to listen and ask questions, and then the pressure's off of you. A good question to ask people is not 'Where did you go to college?' [since] not everyone got to go to college. So, now I say — and it kind of sounds mean, but I say it jokingly — 'What's your deal?' I don't want to say 'Where do you work?' because if they're unemployed, then you feel bad. 'What do you do?' — to me, that's like, 'Justify your existence!' So, I get at it jokingly, like, 'What's your deal? Tell me about what you've got going on!' and that's very open-ended.
Nikki: I think the best way is, if it's a girl, compliment something she's wearing. Say, 'I like that! Where did you get that? That's so cute.' I get offended, because I'll spend a lot of money on a handbag or something, and then no one says anything about it, I'm like, this is brand new! I throw out compliments to strangers all the time, because I would like it back at me, and do unto others. So, I think girls in general need to be more complimentary...It just makes people feel better."
Photo: Courtesy of MTV
Nikki: "No one's too big for a compliment. A lot of times, people think with celebrities, 'Oh, she knows she's great in that!' Meryl Streep still likes a compliment. I guarantee you, it touches her heart."
Sara: "You want to keep it non-awkward, especially if it's in public. You don't want to bother someone while they're eating dinner, but if you can't help yourself, just say, 'I just wanted to say I'm a huge fan. Enjoy your night!'"
What do you do when you're having a conversation with someone, and that lull sets in?
Nikki: "Embrace it. Laugh about it, because I think it's the elephant in the room. You have to call it out, like "Welllll, this just got...aaand we've got nothing to say.' I think it works to call it out most of the time and revel in your awkwardness. Embrace it, because everyone's awkward."
What's the worst you've ever goofed something up?
Nikki: "Texting. I think that's where I goof stuff up the most is not being able to resist texting, reaching out. Just (in unison with Sara) play it cool! Just be aloof! No guy is ever gonna be like, 'Well, I'm not into her because she just doesn't seem into me!' That's never been a complaint for why a guy doesn't like a girl. Ever! That's an attractive thing, so always err on the side of aloofness. Oh, and the best thing: Take his number out of your phone. It has saved me so many times."
Sara: "For me, if you're going to say something about someone else, assume they will hear it and keep that in mind. That's what I've learned from talking on a podcast [and] doing interviews. If you don't want someone to know that you said it, [don't say it]."
How do you efficiently travel alone?
Nikki: "Sleep mask. Neck pillow. You're not too good for the sleep mask-neck pillow combo! You're not too cool for it!"
Sara: "Mouth open! Sleep on that plane!"
Nikki: "And when you use that sleep mask, no one's gonna recognize you. You're gonna look like an idiot, but it's so worth it."
Which movie or TV show have you learned life lessons from?
Sara: "Katy Perry's 3-D Movie, Part of Me. Nikki and I love that movie, especially as it relates to Nikki and I going through this experience of getting a TV show. She worked really hard to get to where she is, she was not an overnight success — I did not realize that until I saw that movie; she's been working at this for like 10 years. I always think about that concert in Brazil when she's crying beneath the stage and they lift her up and she just turns into a smile. We always talk about that — we're like 'Katy Perry Brazil!' — whenever we're having a hard moment or we're tired, It's like, 'Turn it on! Get out there, do it!'"
Nikki: "I think for anyone, performer or not, there are some times when you just gotta suck it up, put on a happy face..."
Sara: "...and be grateful for the amazing life that you have."
How does it feel to be the coolest person from your graduating high school class?
Nikki: "Ask Laura Jarvis. (laughs) I stillll don't feel the coolest, but to be cool now? To have a show and it feels amazing. I just went to my high school reunion two months ago, and it was great. It felt like, finally, they get to see the real me, because I was always thinking the funny things but was always quiet and scared to be made fun of. So, it was nice to finally be seen in that light. I knew that was my potential for everyone to see me this way, and finally, they are! So, it feels good."
Photo: Courtesy of MTV