Comedian Sara Schaefer will be performing this Saturday night at the legendary Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas as a part of Lipshtick– a comedy lineup that includes some of the funniest women in comedy. We got to talk with Sara about her upcoming Vegas appearance, and asked her how she feels about being on the bill with so many legends. Here’s what she told us:
I was surprised and flattered that I’m getting to be a part of it. I was like, “are you sure?” I’m flattered and very excited. Compared to some of the other people who have been a part of this, I feel like I’m the rookie.
Schaefer may be the rookie on the list of women performing in the Venetian Hotel’s Lipshtick, but she can stand tall among the names of legends like Roseanne, Joy Behar, Susie Essman, and Lisa Lampanelli. Schaefer’s hosted her own late night talk show, Nikki & Sara Live, at MTV along with co-host Nikki Glaser, she’s produced and starred in her own web series, Day Job, she won an Emmy for her role as head blogger for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and now she is about to launch a very exciting new podcast that puts a new spin on the podcasting format. But not a lot of people know that before she had a late night talk show at MTV, Sara had her first on camera experience interviewing a-list musicians and other performers for a web series called The DL that was produced by AOL. Doing hundreds of interviews with major celebrities is not exactly a common way to break into the business, but Sara was a natural.
“That experience at AOL was my first time on camera, it was my first time interviewing people, and we interviewed hundreds of bands, musicians and actors,” Sara recalled. “I was interviewing Aretha Franklin and Pete Townshend. It was crazy.” There were times she would interview dozens of bands over the course of a few days– some of which she had never even heard of. “I would just go with it and had to learn how to be on my toes and in some cases- pretend I knew who they were. I mean when I could, of course I would research people, and always tried to ask questions that weren’t just the cliché boring ones. I always wanted to bring my own personality to it. Make it a little funny and make the person comfortable.”
She says almost nobody saw the videos– and not very many people know she did the interviews, but there’s a hard drive somewhere with all of them saved. (You can watch her interview with future boss Jimmy Fallon here.) But the series undoubtably helped prepare her for her podcast with Nikki Glaser, which later led to the MTV show which was filmed in Times Square every week.
Although she grew up in suburban Virginia, Sara spent the last 12 years as a New Yorker. While in NY, she worked as a financial analyst for a big city law firm, got her start in stand up, teamed up with Nikki, started a podcast, and of course had the MTV show, but, Sara told us, after 12 years in New York, she wasn’t really happy there, and decided to make a major change, moving to LA earlier this year.
New York in general is tough and I was ready to leave. It’s a very exhausting place to live. I got spit on one time, a guy stuck his finger in my butt. It’s so sad, that I don’t even think it’s that big of a deal. That’s New York. It’s life for most women in general, but it’s so easy to get away with stuff like that in New York, because there’s just so many people, and men can take advantage of that.
Now, in Los Angeles, she lives a more relaxed lifestyle, gets some more living space, and “Yes! I get to go from place to place in my own compartment– my car– and nobody gets to touch me, and I don’t have to smell any other smells, other than my smell.” She also gets to garden. “I wasn’t prepared for the bounty that is Southern California weather.” In her Los Angeles garden she’s grown tons of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and a 17 inch zucchini that she could only describe as “insanity.” She had a garden when she lived in Brooklyn, but didn’t grow much. “It was pretty tough because I didn’t get much sun in my backyard in Brooklyn. So I couldn’t grow anything fun. I could grow like, rosemary.”
Since moving to LA, Sara has been keeping busy. She’s been in meetings, with things in development that can’t really be shared just yet, but she says “they are very exciting and hopefully soon I’ll get to announce at least one of them.” There is one thing she can talk about now, and that’s her new podcast, LIES. which is being created in conjunction with WNYC and Nerdist. “I’m really excited about it,” she said, “I think its one of the funniest things I’ve ever done.” Sara talked about the concept for “Lies”:
It’s basically me interviewing a comedian or an actor or a public figure of some kind, and its your typical straightforward NPR style interview– think Terry Gross or even your typical podcast– you know Marc Maron or whatever– but instead of — my guests can not tell the truth. They have to lie. Every answer has to be a lie. So I have guests like Colin Quinn, and Jim Gaffigan, and Jenny Slate– the guests are really good and really exciting and I think everyone’s had a great time doing it because it’s so different from what normal podcasts are which is like “Confessional! Let me tell you about my difficult life!” Let me tell you the pain I’ve suffered! This gives people a chance to reveal nothing at all and just have fun and improvise. And the results– I’ve even been surprised about how funny they are. Some people play it really subtle, and some go very silly and absurd but each person has their own flavor. And I have kind of, curated this fake persona for myself. I’m Sara Schaefer, he’s Colin Quinn but we’re dancing just to the left of the truth.
She thought, “what if I gave permission to my guests to reveal nothing?”
In all of her projects Sara has always surrounded herself with the funniest people. When asked her who makes her laugh the most, she was reluctant to answer, but there was one name that jumped to mind quickly, Rory Scovel. “Rory Scovel is a good friend and I think he’s one of the funniest people,” she said. “He’s going to be massively famous once people realize what people in the business already know.” She also is a huge fan of Louis CK, which will come as no surprise to fans of her web series, Day Job which is funny in a way that might remind you somewhat of CK’s own show, Louie.
Day Job — a series of digital shorts which Sara created, wrote and starred in — was inspired by moments that actually happened when she was working for a New York City law firm. “I think that my goal was of that series, was to show the sad desperation of working in a job you don’t like when you’re pursuing a dream.” She said she finds herself drawn to portraying pathos, and sadness in comedy.
That kind of stuff is my favorite stuff. I wanted it to be very real and subtle. And everything I had ever done on camera to this point was always really big and talk showy and pop culture and really in your face kind of stuff, and I wanted to do something that was more subtle.
And she credits all of the projects she’s done up until now with helping her to discover her comedy voice. “I’m really starting to figure out what it is I think I truly want to do and the kind of comedy I want to do,” she said. “Going through all that was just a gift to help me figure that out.”
You can see Sara performing this Saturday night live at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas as a part of the Lipshtick women of comedy, and keep an eye out on October 7, for “LIES.” her new podcast series with WNYC and Nerdist.
“Lipshtick: the Perfect Shade of Stand Up” marks the first time in the history of Las Vegas entertainment that a comedy stage will be performed on exclusively by female performers. Some of the funny women that have already headlined at the Sands Showroom include Heather McDonald and Iliza Shlesinger, Rita Rudner, Joy Behar and Caroline Rhea and Wendy Liebman.
For tickets and more information on “Lipshtick: The Perfect Shade of Stand Up”, go to the official “Lipshtick” website at Venetian.com
• September 27: Sara Schaefer and Nikki Glaser
• October 3 & 4: Lisa Lampanelli
• October 10 & 11: Loni Love
• October 31 & November 1: Wendy Williams
• November 7 & 8: Roseanne Barr
• November 15: Iliza Shlesinger & Fortune Feimster
• November 22: Loni Love
• November 28 & 29: Whitney Cummings
• December 26 & 27: Lisa Lampanelli
• January 2 & 3: Whitney Cummings