Asked by phone where she is at the moment, and stand-up comic Liza Treyger says, “This is the best time of my life! I’m in an [Uber] heading for Palms Springs for our best friends’ wedding. It’s my first time being a bridesmaid. It’s a beautiful moment in time. And I did molly last weekend, so extra happiness!”
Molly, by the way, is ecstacy.
Liza (pronounced “leeza”) is based in New York City, was raised in a suburb of Chicago, and her comedy feels like it was created in the mind of a modern woman who obsessed on Sex in the City and Lena Dunham’s Girls.
Some of the one-liners Treyger’s put forth in shows and interviews: “It’s exhausting to be a bitch.” “Life lesson: If you take your shirt off at a White Sox game, you go to jail.” “My dream body would be Britney Spears… at her worst.”
She’s said of her own comedy, “I’m pretty filthy and it’s exciting.”
But it’s more than that. She goes where her mind tells her to, mixing up storytelling, commentary, confession, rant and joke. She’s 32, smack in the middle of the millennial generation, and her Instagram and Twitter feeds put her life on blast. On Dec. 11 she tweeted, “My only photos that get over 1 thousand likes on Instagram are titty pics. I like it and hate it.”
For the comedy show This Is Not Happening, in which comedians tell a true story about past life fails, she has an epic one about loneliness, drinking and driving, insulting the police, and jail.
“It was an embarrassing, sad time in my life. So I went to AA. And then I was like ‘Oh, I’m better than everyone here.’ So I never went back to AA.”
Her star is ascending. She was one of the featured comedians on the Netflix show The Degenerates (season 2 drops on Dec. 31). She’s chopped it up on David Spade’s show Lights Out. She’s done gigs at venues like Live @ The Apt, which takes place in an East Village apartment, where she told the audience in the living room, “I was a hair salon receptionist for five years. Yeah, where my sociology majors at?!”
She exhibits compulsive behavior. She’s had a thing for The Simpsons her whole life, and she likes to smoke weed. If “like” is the right word for something you do every day for a decade.
“You don’t have to be a detective to find out [that I smoke],” she says from the Uber, before excusing herself. “That just reminded me of a joke. I just want to write that down.”
There are 20 seconds of silence on the phone while she presumably writes down the joke that just occurred to her, then, “Sorry. Weed has ruined my life. I have a real problem with it. I’m going to have to cut it down in my day-to-day life. I waked and baked this morning. I love getting stoned with friends. I can’t stop and I love it.”
Asked how much of her act comes from her real life, she responds, “Everything! One-hundred percent. I’m having a hard time thinking of a joke that’s totally fabricated.”
Real life and entertainment all wrapped up in a roiling ball of career ambition, relationship anxiety and maybe celebrating too much. She mines jokes from her sexcapades, from her friends, from social rules. She’s had plenty of uneventful sex with men but is now seeking a wife. She works as a backup nanny. Her life provides her plenty of material.
She calls comedy awesome and thrilling, but it seems cathartic too. She tries to name a few comedians she’s excited about, but that part’s mostly drowned out by noise because someone has opened the Uber car’s window on the freeway. But she gets in a rant/rave about the comedy scene right now.
“There’s a group [of comedians] with an agenda, they want people to feel like shit. ‘You’re offended [but] I get away with crazy shit!’ You’re a hack thinking you’re edgy. You’re not new. I feel bad for them. I want to be in the group that’s super cool, working hard, partying, being on each other’s side, having the best time, going on TV shows. Singing, funny, unique, beautiful people. It’s magic.”
That weed joke that she came up with during her ride? She wouldn’t reveal it yet: “No, I’m going to save it for the show. Hopefully it’ll be funny by then.”
The show in question is the inaugural XYZ Comedy at Studio 105, on the ground floor of the Sunset Center, which is courting younger audiences with this stand-up comic showcase. In coming months they’ll bring Josh Gondelman, who wrote for Last Week Tonight with John Oliverand is a producer on Desus and Mero; Emmy Blotnick who was nominated for an Emmy (of course) for writing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert; and Janelle James who’s opened for Chris Rock and writes for Showtime’s Black Monday.
Treyger arrives at her friend’s house, is greeted by voices, and has to go. After the phone interview, she posts on Instagram a Throwback Thursday photo of a couple smiling for the camera with the caption, “Wedding weekend! Party on!!!!”
LIZA TREYGER performs 8pm Friday, Dec. 20, at Studio 105, Sunset Center, Ninth and San Carlos, Carmel. $15/student over 18 with ID; $25/general; $35/priority; $50/VIP table. 620-2048, sunsetcenter.org