Iliza Shlesinger

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The rise of Netflix as a platform for stand-up comedy has revitalised the medium, and brought it right back to the forefront of entertainment for a new generation of audiences. One of the biggest beneficiaries of this revitalisation has been American comedian Iliza Shleshinger, who is perhaps best known for her Netflix stand-up special Elder Millennial.

Shlesinger believes the rise and committed focus to stand-up comedy specials on Netflix has been a major factor in the resurgence in the popularity of comedy.

“Netflix has been instrumental, and in some cases the driving force behind, a lot of people’s careers. Netflix has been a game changer, they’re doing for stand-up right now what the Tonight Show did in the 70s & 80s.” said Shlesinger.

J.A.M Zine spoke with Shlesinger during her recent Elder Millennial tour of Australia, her first tour here for a number of years. The significant gap between tours is in part due to the distance and also in part due to the difficulties foreign comics face when trying to break into the Australian scene. 

"Anytime you leave your own country and try to break into someone else’s atmosphere it’s difficult. Especially because Australia is a comedy heavy country and you take your comedy very seriously, so not everything translates across the pond.”

For Shlesinger to have a number of sellout shows during the tour was something she was very thankful for, “the outpouring of love from Australian fans has been overwhelming, for an intrepid comic like me it’s a huge sign of positive reinforcement and a huge compliment.”

The outpouring of love hasn’t just been from Australian fans though. Shlesinger’s fans have been known to attend shows in outfits inspired by Shlesinger’s own fashion sense. In the past fans have also given Shlesinger hand crafted gifts for both herself and her dog Blanche.

“For people to not only take the time to watch my specials but also digest it and engage with it by making their own art is such a beautiful thing. I’m completely humbled by it because it means that something I made has stuck with people in some way artistically. There is nothing more gratifying than to see that something I’ve said has stuck with people and changed them in some way.”

Whilst Shlesinger’s Australian show was curated for the Australian market it remained true to the most successful Netflix special from which the tour drew its name. Elder Millennial gained acclaim due to Shlesinger’s snappy dismantling of the culture, fashion and trends of the late 1990s/early 2000s.

“For my money the late 90s/early 00s had some of the worst fashion and some of the weirdest stuff was going on in pop-culture,” said Shlesinger. “So as a 35 year old elder millennial with people around my age we are now just getting to the age where nostalgia is warranted.”

Looking towards the future Shlesinger is already formulating her next Netflix special because as she explained, “comedy is something that I will work tirelessly to build until the wheels fall off.”

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