Comedian Iliza Shlesinger will be greeted by a homecoming of thousands at her upcoming Grand Prairie show.Chris Patey
The work ethic that helped build Iliza Shlesinger's career as a comedian didn't stop during the pandemic, even though it made it almost impossible to perform for the crowds she's used to seeing on tour.
"I try to always be working," Shlesinger says. "I try to always be writing new content, try to keep things fresh for myself and my fans. I get bored of subjects very quickly."
Shlesinger says she honed her latest hour of new material on outdoor venues for distanced crowds. The payoff is that she'll get to perform for a huge venue in her hometown on Sept. 18 at the Texas Trust CU Theatre in Grand Prairie as part of her new Back in Action tour.
"This new hour is so much fun," she says. "I've been so looking forward to this Dallas-Fort Worth/Grand Prairie show because it's a 6,000-seat venue and it's so awesome to get to fill that in my home state."
Shlesinger's comedic pursuits go back to her days at the Greenhill School in Addison where her theater teacher Synthia Rogers says on the school's website she "was always involved in the fall drama and was the only girl in the improv troupe" and performed in the local ComedySportz troupe in the old West End location.
Shlesinger moved to standup and scored a spot in the sixth season of NBC's Last Comic Standing, which she ended up winning. That led to a long relationship with Netflix, where she released five uncut standup specials. They started with War Paint in 2013, which was filmed at the Lakewood Theater in Dallas, and ended most recently in 2019 with Unveiled featuring her take on marriage and weddings following her marriage to chef and acclaimed food writer Noah Galuten.
Shlesinger also announced (where else?) on stage in San Antonio last month that she is pregnant and expecting a baby girl with her husband in January. She says she'll follow that momentous step with her sixth Netflix special in spring 2022.
"It's a comic's job to talk about their experiences in life whatever they're going through: pregnancy, loss, achievement," Shlesinger says. "Something you've experienced and something you have connections to, you can speak about it. Only being a couple of months pregnant, there's one or two jokes."
Most of her new special comes from getting past "hitting the pavement" during the long pandemic and finding a new sense of normal even as things like the delta variant continue to throw continuous curveballs.
"I'm throwing away the 45 minutes I wrote during the pandemic and getting back to normalcy," she says. "It's just about constantly filtering through material until you get to something real solid and then you go film that."
Shlesinger also made the jump to features with roles in films like Spenser Confidential starring Mark Wahlberg and writing and starring in her own movie Good on Paper released over the summer on Netflix. Good on Paper tells an exaggerated version of a true story Shlesinger used to tell on stage about her relationship with a serial liar who made up whole chunks of his life and kept up his lies for months at a time.
"I started writing this very quietly," Shlesinger says. "I was chipping away at it in hotels, airports, after shows, on weekends and after a several year-long process, they agreed to make it. It took two years to get that going. We made it on our own. We didn't ask for permission."
She says she has more projects in the works that she can't talk about yet, and she likes it that way.
"It's one of those things that I always make it a point to have several things in the works, various scripts and projects in development," she says. "I don't want to jinx it."
As for this point in her career, she says she's most focused on doing a great show for the place that gave her her start in comedy.
"What I'm really looking forward to is my gig in Grand Prairie with this massive outdoor show," she says. "Anyone can come to my show and feel safe, and I'm really looking forward to being in DFW and bringing some joy to my home state."
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune,Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.