Comedian Iliza Shlesinger has kept herself plenty busy through the course of the pandemic.
Though the “Last Comic Standing” winner was slated to be out on an international comedy tour, Shlesinger, like all entertainers, was forced to cancel her outing this year and dive into the virtual world in an effort to stay connected with fans.
Now more than six months into the coronavirus-induced shutdown, Shlesinger is ready to provide some in-person laughs. She’s heading out on a nine-city Tailgate Tour, which stops by City National Grove of Anaheim’s Drive-In OC on Oct. 16.
“Cars and drive-ins are inherently Americana, so I wanted to sort of reframe the way people were thinking about these drive-in shows,” Shlesinger said during a recent phone interview. “We’re all mourning the loss of an indoor show, but this isn’t just a drive-in: It’s a tailgate party. I want people to come and hang; it’s a safe-distanced hang and you can have food and alcohol and it’s fun.”
Just before the shutdowns, Shlesinger was walking the red carpet to promote the Peter Berg-directed Netflix movie, “Spenser Confidential,” which also stars Mark Wahlberg and Winston Duke. Her last big outing of the year was the Los Angeles film premiere in February before the film launched on March 6.
“It was such an honor and delight to work with [Wahlberg] and Peter Berg, who are B.F.F.’s forever. It was a very masculine set, but they were so egalitarian in the way that they listened and worked with me,” she explained. “They let me create my character and took my input and let me write lines for her. They listened to me in a way that they didn’t really have to, so it was a real education in what being around real, professional men can feel like and I wish that for all women working in show business.”
And about that steamy on-screen romp with Wahlberg: It was purely professional, though one of the more stressful moments of Shelsinger’s career.
“I perform for thousands of people at a time and I’ve been on a USO Tour on a base when rockets have come over, but this was the most nerve-racking professional experience,” she said, noting that at some point while filming the scene a crewmember offered her a shot of tequila to calm her nerves.
“I don’t think it gets more nerve-racking than unprepared fake sex with one of the biggest movie stars on the planet, so now everything else is a piece of cake,” she said confidently.
Along with the debut of “Spenser Confidential,” Shlesinger already has five comedy specials available on Netflix, her latest being “Unveiled,” and the Netflix Original, “The Iliza Shlesinger Sketch Show” premiered on April 1. On top of giving fans plenty to binge, she and her chef husband Noah Galuten also started the “Don’t Panic Pantry” cooking show via Instagram and Facebook Live. All 138 episodes are also available via Shlesinger’s YouTube channel.
“You have to stay busy and relevant and as much as people get out of all of that, I get just as much out of it,” she said. “I love creating and entertaining people, and at first with our cooking show, it was something we could just look forward to and produce every day.”
The show not only gives people simple yet delicious meal ideas, but also takes a good hard look at what’s happening in the world as the couple discusses what’s going on outside their four walls.
“No one wants to be browbeaten and I have fans that range from granola-snorting liberals all the way to gun-toting conservatives and all the people that wear bedazzle jeans in the O.C. in between,” she said, adding that she thinks fans like that she keeps the mood light. “I always want people to feel like there’s a middle ground with my comedy.”
Like many comics, Shlesinger also has a weekly podcast, “Ask Iliza Anything,” which is fueled by inquiries coming directly from her fans. Occasionally she will have special guests on, but she enjoys the more free-flowing format of being able to discuss an array of topics with fans no matter how silly — or serious. Last week, she opened up about she and Galuten recently suffering a miscarriage.
“I’m an open book and there’s very little that embarrasses me or that I’m ashamed of, but I think we spend way too much time as women being embarrassed or ashamed of really normal things,” she said. “Things we just don’t have the platform or agency to talk about and I’m not here for it. I’m here to say let’s talk about everything and nobody should feel badly for something they can’t control no matter what it is, whether it’s color, gender, shape, size, whatever it is … let’s talk about it.”
Iliza Shlesinger’s Tailgate Tour
When: 6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16
Where: City National Grove of Anaheim’s Drive-In OC, 2200 East Katella Ave., Anaheim
Tickets: $160-$350 per vehicle (number of passengers must not exceed the number of safety belts in the vehicle) at AXS.com.