Nicole Byer on why people should find the humor in jokes again

Nicole Byer
PHOTO: Getty 

Actress, writer and comedian Nicole Byer has always been known for her witty and charmingly sarcastic banter. The 33-year-old has covered a lot of ground in the comedy world acting in movies, hosting Netflix’s wildly popular amateur baking competition show “Nailed It,” co-hosting a whopping four podcasts and now taking her comedy on the road with her stand-up tour. But what Byer may be most famous for is pushing boundaries (or perhaps capitalizing on the fact that she doesn’t have any) and the comedic maven is most certainly an expert on that. Byer sat down with Metro to discuss her tour, her podcasts and chat about why audiences should put down their sensitivity walls to allow jokes to simply be jokes again. 

Nicole Byer on why people should find the humor in jokes again

You wear many hats in the comedy world, hosting “Nailed It” on Netflix, four different podcasts and also now you’re on tour with your stand-up. What do you like the most about performing live in front of audiences?

Everything I do is so different, but I like doing it all. I like performing in front of audiences though because it’s almost like instant gratification. You say something and the audience will tell you if they like it, whether it’s funny or not. It’s way different then say with a podcast where you record it and then you just don’t know. Or when you film something you also don’t know until it’s edited together and goes out to the world, then there’s a response. Stand-up is very instant. But that’s also the beast with stand-up. You can do the same joke for two years, have it kill and then go to another town where they don’t like it, but then you go to another town and they love it.

You’re very candid in your podcasts, even with your personal life. Can people expect that same kind of openness with your stand-up?

I do talk about my personal life with my stand-up, but I don’t know. I don’t really think of it that way because I don’t really have boundaries where other people have boundaries. I don’t think I’m being super open, I think I’m just talking about my life. It’s a mixture of stuff about me, instances that I’ve had and then also observational stuff. It’s not like my comedy has a message, I think it’s just funny.

Switching gears a bit, can you us more about the two podcasts you’ve launched this year: “90 Day Bae” and “Best Friends?”

So “Best Friends” is just me and Sasheer Zamata, who is my best friend, talking. The best way I can describe it — I read this review, it was honestly a very bad review, this lady hated our podcast. She said, “It just sounds like two people who love each other with inside jokes.” And, yeah that’s pretty much what it is — we love each other and we love talking. If it’s a live episode, at the end we do audience questions, or when we’re recording it we have people send voicemails and emails with questions about friendship and we try to help them. Then, “90 Day Bae” is a re-cap podcast that I do with my friend Marcy Jarreau about the best television show currently on TV —“90 Day Fiance” and all of its spin-offs. Honestly, the show is so funny and the editors deserve Emmys. Everything that happens is so wild, so Marcy and I watch it all and recap it.

Nicole Byer

You’ve said before that in today’s climate no one can really take a joke anymore and that people are just angry. Is that ever in the back of your mind when writing jokes or recording your podcasts?

It’s true that people love getting offended. It’s so wild, I tell this joke about this man that I bumped into on an airplane and he turned around and asked if I was trying to pickpocket him — that’s racist. Like he’s a white dude, he said that to me, it’s racist and it’s not okay. So onstage, I say if I could go back in time, here is what I would say — it’s just snarky comedic things that I would say to him, but people started going “Aww.” So, oh wait, we feel bad for this man? It’s confusing because I think, why are you offended on behalf of this man who was rude to me? I think people are just looking to be offended. When I write jokes I don’t really keep that in the back of my mind because I feel like I would just make myself crazy trying to please an audience. But I’ll tell people, “That was funny.”

I’ll have other comics watch my stuff or give me notes and I’ll sometimes not understand why audiences don’t find certain things funny — I laugh, the other comedians laugh, it’s funny. It can be annoying though that people can’t sit and understand that they’re jokes. I’m not going up and saying something horribly racist or misogynistic or phobic of anything. It’s just an hour where you’re supposed to laugh. People also forget that it’s not literal, it’s all just jokes and heightened. When you condemn a comic for an hour of comedy they did, that’s insane because I’m sure you liked a little bit of it. Sometimes someone does an hour of comedy and you don’t like five minutes — that’s fine, you don’t have to like those five minutes. But just say that and you can also justify that the rest of it was good. I don’t know, I just think everyone has an opinion.

What does the future hold for you?

I want to keep doing everything I’m doing. Hopefully, I’ll be on a show again, I like to do movies and I also wrote a book. But overall I just want to do more.

Catch Nicole Byer at Parx Casino on Nov. 7 at 8 pm. For more information visit parxcasino.com 

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