Twenty-nine year old Dallas, Texas native, Iliza Shlesinger is the perfect catch. She’s got looks, brains, and a hilarious personality. But this bombshell won’t be doing any of the dating on the comedy-based dating series, EXCUSED. Instead she is hosting the show and cracking us up from beginning to end. The first female winner of NBC’s Last Comic Standing, Shlesinger talks to CM about joke inspirations, college life, and her love of Reality TV.
Natural Born Comedian
Believe it or not, being funny requires talent. Not everyone is born with that outgoing, witty trait that you need to be comical. But Shlesinger says she had always known, from a young age, that she’d be making people laugh for a living. While it may take some people a longer time to find motivation for their work, Shlesinger finds inspiration everywhere. “The jokes just come to me, honestly,” she says.
But not every joke makes the cut. The comedian goes through a trial process before she makes a joke permanent. By trying it out a few times and playing with the wording, she eventually gets a feel for it and comes to a decision.
“If it works, it stays, if it doesn't work…it still might stay in the act…depends on how I feel about the joke really. Sometimes I stop telling jokes because they don't resonate with me anymore- sometimes a joke will never get a laugh but I'll keep doing it because I love it. Sometimes it's not about the audience,” she says.
You Can’t Major in “Being Funny”
Although Shlesinger was fairly settled on her career goals at a young age, she had a difficult time approaching them. Since you can’t go to college to be a comedian (dang it), Shlesinger had to find an alternative focus that would ultimately lead her in the right direction.
“I chose to study film because…well, I liked making sketches and filming them and, since you can't major in ‘being funny,’ film seemed like the best way to get to do what I liked and learn about it in the process.”
Studying film at Emerson helped Shlesinger become a well-rounded performer. She explains how learning what goes into proper film-making, such as everything from scripts to camera placement, helped her better understand all of the elements at play in a scene. It even helped her with the creative process from start to finish when producing a sketch. As for live comedy shows, “for stand up…it really doesn't help at all.”
Before transferring to Emerson to study film, Shlesinger attended the University of Kansas and got to experience the big-campus-lifestyle. “I loved both–college is the best. It’s the perfect amount of freedom mixed with just the right amount of responsibility. I also don’t remember a lot of college–that’s either a testament to how old I am or how much I partied.”
Today, Iliza Shlesinger hosts the half-hour syndicated reality show EXCUSED. From the same producers of the hit series Blind Date, this show offers a new take on the dating scene, mining on the comedic aspects of relationships. The show involves contestants have to choose suitors based on footage from a security camera outside their house. Once several suitors are chosen, contestants then narrow them down.
Entering its sophomore season tonight, the show, Shlesinger believes, is truly unpredictable. It’s always a mystery to see what direction it’s going to go on any given day–especially when it comes to who is getting “excused.”
“Ya know, everyday my theories on humanity are proven and shattered. I'm never surprised when they pick the hot girl over the less attractive girl with the good personality but, by the same token, I'm always impressed when, say, girls will pick the nicer guy over the hot douche bag,” admits Shlesinger. “I do always get a little sad when a hot guy gets excused because then I don’t get to stare at him. Oh well,” she adds.
Other reality shows that have captured Shlesinger’s attention include True Life, Restaurant Impossible, all of The Real Housewives, and anything on TLC that involves crying and eating Tilex. “I love people and I love watching them. That sounds creepy.”
Season two of Excused premieres tonight on CBS! We’ll be watching–will you?