Two of her favorite things are glitter and cheese, hence her social media username, @glitterchese, and when she isn’t traveling the world performing, 29 year old standup comedian, Liza Treyger resides in New York City and actually lives her out dream which she initially didn’t even know was a possibility for her. Born in present day Ukraine, Liza, her parents, and sister, came to America in 1990 when she was three years old before the collapse of the Soviet Union. She and her family first moved to Chicago’s Rogers Park then moved to Skokie in Chicago when she was in the first grade. A self-proclaimed trouble maker growing up, Liza didn’t fully understand that people made money performing as standup comics, even though she says it’s a perfect career choice for her.
When she discovered standup comedy she was working mostly at different hair salons as a receptionist, and as a back up nanny-which she says was her best job before comedy. Today, Liza has put the day jobs aside and has been fully committed to standup for two years. Her resume includes multiple episodes of MTV’s Joking Off, a performance on Late Night With Seth Meyers, and is a part of the Comedy Central family. She is making a career for herself that’s worth paying attention to.
What’s the biggest trouble you’ve gotten into that didn’t involve the cops?
I cheated on the Constitution test in 8th grade but I got to retake it. Ummmm…Oh! In college I got wasted. Drank Everclear, got on a chair and smoked cigarettes directly into the smoke detector. And it set off the alarm, everyone had to go out and while everyone was leaving me and my friend Molly ran and stole all the exit signs through the building and then we hid in her room. I got caught, but I only had to pick up cigarette butts and make a poster about not smoking inside.
How did you get into standup?
When the movie Super Bad came out I loved it. And I was like ‘I’m gonna write the girl version of this. I want to write a girl Super Bad,’ and so I started taking writing and improv classes at Second City and someone was like ‘oh you want to do comedy, my friend does standup,’ so this guy invited me to go watch [his friend] at an open mic. And I went and people were on stage and I was like, ‘I can do this.’ If they can do it I can do it. So I went up, I bombed for two minutes, then I came back the next week with all these jokes that I wrote and everyone’s was like ‘did you write these?’ and I was like ‘Sure did!’ And then I never stopped, ever. That was on a Monday and then I went every night for the rest of my life really, I only take a few days off at a time. I just really really like it.
Do you remember the first joke you wrote?
There were a few, I don’t remember which one was officially the first one. One was about how my friend was in a bathroom and there wasn’t toilet paper or paper towels, and she was wearing a thong, and she took a sh*t and didn’t know what to do. So she was like ‘what would Liza do?’ so she dug in the garbage can, and I was like ‘how rude, I would obviously use the sink as a bidet.’ A couple of them I still do and they’re better now, but that one was the first one I feel like.
What prompted the move to New York City?
One of my best friends, Megan Galey-she does stand up too. In Chicago or wherever you are you eventually have to go to a coast if you want to continue doing this. You don’t want to be the best in a small town. I stopped getting nervous and it wasn’t as exciting. You have to move; for more stage time, to be challenged, for people to be better than you. So we didn’t know where we were going to go, but then we just had so much fun here, because we like to drink and party and stay out all night. So it was perfect. I’d been in Chicago for five and a half years doing standup so it was just time go.
What was the worst non comedy related job that you’ve done?
I did data entry for a man that was really disgusting and rude and he would interview people for my job in front of me all the time and that was weird.
What are your top three heckler moments?
Recently I had a woman get up, she was in the front row, and she handed me a business card and went ‘if you ever decide to fix your hair you can call me.’ We went back and forth and I did a joke, ripped the business card threw it in her face and was like ‘bye bitch.’
I did a college, and it was all black kids. Killing in an all black room there’s nothing better. Nothing better. When you’re crushing in an all black audience you’re just like ‘I’m the best person in the world.’ But bombing in an all black audience, there’s nothing worse. There’s nothing more demoralizing and upsetting. Women will cross their arms and stare at you raised eyebrow-it’s horrifying. But that’s what makes it the best. They also don’t want to like you a little bit, so it was a black college and they hated me. It was just 500 black students booing me, screaming insults, they wouldn’t let me finish anything, Snap Chatting me bombing, yelling, interrupting me, it was awful. Then I finally had to be like ‘you’re a group of failures and I’ve never worked with such bad students in my life.’ And I just stood there until my time was up cause I gotta get paid you know? So that was bad.
I had one where people threatened to kill me. They got up and took cash outta their pocket and said ‘I’ll give anyone six hundred dollars to get this bitch off the stage.’ Then a dude took it, gave me a hundred bucks and then I left. They were bad too.
Where do you think the comedians’ need to entertain comes from?
For me it’s all about learning lessons and becoming better. So the more confident you are the more you can handle a situation. I used to get really angry and I still do sometimes, where I’d flip out. Its experience. You’re always going to have a bad audience. It’s good to have those moments so you become stronger. If you can perform in front of two people and they’re going to have a good time, when you’re in a theater of two thousand people its f*cking easy. With all those experiences you just become a better comedian, that’s why you don’t say no.
You’re really passionate and vocal about gender inequality. What prompted you to incorporate that into your comedy and what has the backlash been?
It was never a conscious decisions. Most of my standup comes from life. It’s an issue that is important to me and my girlfriends. We all sit and talk about it, and we live it, and were annoyed by it, and we’re also in male dominated industry, so I’m with men all the time and I’m just annoyed by things. And with comedy, the best comedy is when there is a strong point of view; this is what bothers me and what I see and what affects me and my friends. Men, even women, so often refuse to acknowledge what’s happening because of their personal experience or their privilege and they don’t see it. For me it’s exciting that I get to make [this subject] funny and that people react and think about it.
I’ve had backlash, I’ve had clubs try to take away my time, I’ve had interactions where it’s like ‘go f*ck yourself’ but when I look and see glowing women’s faces, and I get applaud breaks and everyone’s laughing, or people write to me, that’s important [to me]. But it’s never conscious in anyway. It’s definitely not something I went out to do, it’s something that I naturally care about.
You are currently developing a TV show with writing partner, Comedian Prescott Tolk, produced by Avalon Television. Can you tell me about the project and the progress you’ve made so far?
We haven’t written anything. We worked on the pitch for two years. It’s harder than it looks. We’ve been developing the story and the characters for so long, and we both have other thing to do. To make a show were you know the characters inside and out-and I’ve never done this before-it just takes a really long time. So right now I’m working on the outline, then we’ll get the pilot going, and then hopefully before the end of the year we’ll know if we’re going to go to series or not. I’m working with my manager Sam Saifer-who I love so much, and the execs at TruTv, I’m excited. I think it’s gonna be good.
My character she’ll be 26, and she’s a backup nanny, and I live in my friend Megan’s pantry, and she is a bartender. And the male character Marty is an activities director at an old folk’s home. And basically the three of them are three people that didn’t get to be kids in their childhood because of family drama. They had really weird upbringings so they always had to be adults and deal with all this embarrassment. So now that they’re adults they get to finally be children and be free, and they’re away from their f*cked up childhoods. And not everything’s f*cked up, I just grew up foreign, so I had to translate for my parents and do paperwork and all that. So it’s just this freedom of being free from that past life. They’re just trying to have fun and enjoy Chicago. They’re friends with all the blue collar people; bus boys, bartenders, door guys, they know everyone e and have a good time. And also all of [the main characters] jobs fulfill things that were missing in their childhood. It’s about partying, work, all their jobs, friendship and family is the main theme. Hopefully it will be really really funny.
When you look back on your life in 5 years, what would you have liked to accomplish?
I want to have a TV show on the air. I want to be performing in theaters for people that want to see me, and have an hour special by then. I would like to be able to take my family on vacation. Live alone (currently she has two roommates who also work in the comedy industry). Be in love. Being a good person to my friends and family. I want to go to a Vanity Fair Oscar party, that would be nice, I don’t know if five years is too soon but that would be a goal. And I don’t know if this is five years or ten years but me and my two working people that I love so much, we want to have a production company.
What’s the first standup comedy set that you saw? Kings of Comedy-but I saw Jay Leno live at a Jew event one time in Chicago
Favorite Musician? Adele
Favorite Comedian? Dave Attell
Favorite Movie? Big Business
Favorite Quote? It’s from my friend Veronica and it was my high school senior quote, its “if comedic value outweighs personal loss, it’s a worthwhile situation”
Favorite Cartoon Show? The Simpsons
What’s been the highlight of your career? Horace and Pete. That was definitely a highlight of my life and career. It was a secret Louie (Louis CK) project that he released on his website. I got to act with Steve Buscemi, Jessica Lang, Edie Falco, Alan Alda, Loui, Steven Right, Nick Di Paolo, I met Colin Quinn on there. Yeah so that was the best, seeing people that are just so good. Seeing everyone interact, how people work, just seeing good talent, and trust. That was the highlight for sure.
What’s the story behind how you got that role?
Louie comes to The [Comedy] Cellar a lot. And we would say hi and bye in passing. And then he just watched my set one night and was like ‘we’ll keep in touch’ and I was like ‘whatever’. And then I got an audition for this secret project and they were like ‘do not talk about it’ and I had already told like ten people and I was like ‘please don’t tell anyone.’ And then I got an email the day of the audition saying ‘your audition’s been cancelled he’s just going to give you the part.’ And then I got to just go to his house.
Interviewed By: Julian Hollinger
Photographed By: Okyanus Waverly