Iliza Shlesinger talks about her 'Last Comic Standing' victory
By Christopher Rocchio, 08/08/2008
Last Comic Standing sixth-season champ Iliza Shlesinger said she's "not a female comic" and is instead "a comedian who happens to be female."
"I know that it registers with other people that I'm a female, but it has never registered with me in all the comedy I've done over the years. That's never been an issue. I've never blamed it, I'd never use it as a crutch," she told Reality TV World during a Friday conference call.
"I think to a lot of people it means a lot of different things. But for me, I'm just Iliza and I won. I'm a comedian that won. The female thing I can't comment on because I just don't feel that in my heart."
Regardless of her sex, the 25-year-old from Dallas, TX became the first ever female to winLast Comic Standing when she captured the sixth-season title based on home viewer votes cast immediately following last Thursday night's penultimate episode, which saw each of the Top 5 finalists deliver a stand-up routine. However it wasn't the first time home viewers got to see Shlesinger's stand-up in a competitive setting, as she was challenged in both of the sixth-season's pre-taped comic showdowns.
"No one ever voted for me, they always just challenged me," she explained to Reality TV World. "If you really look at it, the majority of people didn't try to get me out of the house. It was those who were voted for that thought I'd be the weakest."
"I was always very vulnerable because I kind of just knew that it would always be me -- not so much getting voted off, but always being challenged," she told reporters. "So I was always ready for it. I never for a second thought I was untouchable or invincible until last night just after the show ended."
Shlesinger conceded that she is "100%" certain her appearances in the showdowns played a role in her victory.
"I would say through others' doubt is where I grew stronger. Had those people not looked at me as a girl who had no material, or as a threat or a nothing -- I got to showcase my stand-up for the world when no one else was doing it," she told Reality TV World. "I think the audience got a vested interest in me as the underdog early on. I think that was the key in me winning."
Shlesinger described herself as a "very competitive person" who wants "to win more than anything" whenever she's challenged, so it should come as no real surprise she performed so well during the showdowns.
"I knew that I had to prove myself to myself and to the audience," she said. "At the end of the day, the audience was my main concern. I don't really care what the other comics think of me."
Despite being the only female finalist once Ku was ousted early on, Shlesinger said she had no real problems sharing a house with a bunch of guys.
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"It was fine. Everybody was really respectful. We never were at each other's throats. I don't know if professional is the right word, but it was fine. It wasn't like I was in a frat house. We were all there with a common goal," she said. "I came in with a goal and regardless of who was in the house I would have done my best to achieve that goal."
Shlesinger said she watches "pretty much everything on VH1 or E!" and knows it's "embarrassing."
"These shows are the reason America is becoming not such a good place as far as pop culture goes. This is the reason people don't like us is because of shows like this, but I can't stop watching them," she admitted. "I will watch anything that's a reality show that has bad editing and a bad storyline to be honest with you."
"If I watch someone on stage I get anxious -- I want to be on stage. So I never watched Last Comic because it would make me anxious to watch other comics, just as a comedian that's how I feel," she said. "So I never got around to watching the show before, because I'm either on that show or not a part of it. Of course I'll watch it from now on because I got it out of my system."
For winning Last Comic Standing, Shlesinger received the grand prize of $250,000, an exclusive talent deal with NBC, a brand new Honda Pilot, and a guest appearance in Jubilee! at Bally's Las Vegas.
Her first thought was to buy a car, but since NBC already took care of that she has other more mundane plans for the money.
"I really want to be financially responsible. I know this sounds boring, but I'm going to pay-off my one student loan that I have, which is a small one. I'm going to get an operation for my cat so his ear stops dripping wax. I know that's gross," she said. "I think I'm just going to put the rest of it aside for when I actually find something that I need because I'm a pretty simple person."