Iliza Shlesinger on writing jokes on-the-spot, and revealing truths about marriage

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Iliza Shlesinger. Credit: Iliza.com.

Comedian Iliza Shlesinger is known for satirical bits about the differences between women and men. But she also weaves serious social commentary into her standup, such as how men are used to dealing with rejection sexually, and women deal with rejection when it comes to governing their own bodies, having their own thoughts, and getting paid the same rate as men for the same job. 

Shlesinger has four Netflix specials. The latest is "Elder Millennial." 

Now she’s released “Over and Over,” a documentary about how she preps for a Netflix special.

Shlesinger tells Press Play that she writes her jokes as she's performing onstage. "The raw talent is coming up with those on-the-spot funny ad libs, or conclusions, or tags, or punch lines. And then the art of it is doing that again. Why didn't that get a laugh? Should I do it slower? Should I abandon it altogether?... Anyone can get a laugh. The trick is: can you get that laugh every time, can you keep doing it?"

Upcoming comedy special: women policing each other, and marriage 

In her fifth Netflix special, Shlesinger talks about how it's exhausting and contradictory in nature for women to obsessively police each other. " 'Speak your mind, be brave, be bold.' But when you are, it's like, 'Sit down, you're too bold, you're making me insecure.' It's still just so paralyzing because you're offending everyone by existing," she says.

The special is heavily about marriage and the expectations that go into it. "I think as women, sometimes we're not allowed to complain because it's like, 'Well at least the lord sent you someone to put up with you taking pictures of your dog's mouth, and you're supposed to be preparing for this day your whole life,' " she says. 

"I can love the person I've married, I can love the product of the marriage. But I got to tell you, the day of was a little stressful, it wasn't that graceful… I think as women, we're so programmed to do the smile and #perfectday… But also let's be real about my experience," she says. 

Shlesinger also looks at the big changes that marriage brings. She says women spend their whole lives alternating between finding Mr. Right and being independent. "Then you get married, and that all comes to a screeching halt. Like yes, you've been with this person, but all those senses, all those nights out, it's different. The way that you feel about your body, even sexually, is different," she says. 

What does success look like?

With her fifth Netflix comedy special coming out soon, does Shlesinger feel like she's "made it?" 

"I think that's a shifting goal post... I guess at the end of the day, the goal can't be to be the most famous comic ever because that's subjective. Even being funny is subjective. So right now, I'm really just enjoying the touring and the other creative stuff and the fans," she says. 

--Written by Amy Ta, produced by Alex Tryggvadottir