Nikki Glaser Makes Cynicism Filthy and Fun in ‘Someday You’ll Die’

The comic’s first HBO special hits Mother’s Day weekend. It might not be suitable for mothers
Nikki Glaser Makes Cynicism Filthy and Fun in ‘Someday You’ll Die’

I would never suggest that stand-up comics become parents just for the material. But if you’ve already devoted a whole chunk in one of your specials to the fact that you don’t want to have kids, you can just change your mind, and that’s half your next special taken care of — or the whole thing

When I saw that Someday You’ll Die, Nikki Glaser’s new HBO special, was coming out Mother’s Day weekend, I wondered if it was so that she could use the peg to announce that she was crossing over into the comedy of parenthood. But no: for now, at least, Glaser seems very committed to childlessness, and has a lot of excellent reasons for it. Cynicism has never seemed more fun. Or sensible!

Over the more than two decades of her professional career, Glaser has cultivated a reputation for eloquently filthy jokes. Making this part of her brand has, undoubtedly, helped her get gigs like the sex-focused Comedy Central show Not Safe With Nikki Glaser; hosting and producing the reality dating competition FBoy Island; and slots on several Comedy Central Roasts. Sex remains a topic of discussion in Someday You’ll Die, but now that she’s 39, the context that surrounds it has changed: Her peers are having kids, and Glaser’s not into it. “Anyone else losing friends to babies? Is anyone else secretly hoping their friends lose those babies?” 

Bringing up a friend who told Glaser she’d spent $30,000 getting pregnant through in-vitro fertilization, Glaser says she offered to pay her $40,000 to get “an aborsho”: “If you want to make money on this deal, I’ll Venmo you right now! I got money, ‘cause I don’t got kids. I don’t know what I’ll write in the memo — just, like, a vacuum emoji?” 

Glaser’s been assigned to organize the baby shower: “I don’t know what we’re gonna do yet. I think maybe bull riding? A trampoline park? I was thinking maybe, like, a stomach-punching contest at a staircase museum?” 

I’ve seen lots of comics talk about the appeal of “a barren, sterile existence that ends when you die”; the particular disappointment that comes when a friend turns into a parent was, I thought, unnameable until Glaser opened by describing it. 

Glaser doesn’t want children — has, in fact, never wanted children — and makes it clear through the first third of the special that she’s considered the question from every angle. Why make women most fertile when they’re least able to care for babies? What is required to resist the social programming that pushes women to marriage and motherhood? (Other women, to be clear: Glaser says that when she got an Easy Bake Oven, she stuck her head in it.) How does biology trick people into parenthood? “Orgasms feel as good as kids are shitty.” And how do women possibly live up to the expectations mothers are subject to? “It’s not hard to be a mom. It’s hard to be a good mom. It’s easy to be a bad mom. That’s as easy as being a great dad.” 

Glaser never has to worry about what kind of mom she might be, but not having children to take care of her does mean she needs to have a plan for her distant dotage, and that plan is suicide. This gets us into some of Glaser’s toughest and most shockingly hilarious subject areas, as she acknowledges that suicide is touchy, but that she feels entitled to talk about it since she’s going to do it, eventually. Sometimes, she says, comedians will “caveat” jokes they’re scared of being cancelled over by claiming license through personal experience: “Like, if I were to say right now, ‘Guys, I’m gonna do some rape jokes,’ you might go, ‘(gritting teeth) Go back to the suicide stuff, please.’ But if I said, ‘But I can do these jokes ’cause I’ve been raped,’ you’d go, ‘Oh, thank God she was raped. Phew!’” 

In addition to the pretty substantial suicide chunk, Glaser addresses euthanasia, autism, her most transgressive sexual fantasy and which national political figure her aging vulva most closely resembles. 

Scarcely a day goes by that one of my colleagues here isn’t reporting on another comic bitching about sensitive audiences preventing them from making offensive jokes. Glaser, instead of whining, is actually doing her job: Last year, she told The Jerusalem Post she finds the line of acceptability by crossing it and seeing what happens, and the topics she explores in Someday You’ll Die seem to prove how carefully she’s workshopped the set to avoid reactions that will slow down the breakneck pace of her jokes. 

Every one of these whiny hacks should be required to watch Glaser at work in Someday You’ll Die. She’s provocative, dirty, confident, unapologetic and very funny the whole way through.


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