The close-knit relationship between E.J., Julie, and their daughter Nikki Glaser is exceptional and inspirational. When the pandemic hit last year, the obvious decision for Nikki, a successful comedian living on the East Coast, was to move back home with her parents. "It's not surprising that I'm back home during a pandemic. I've always wanted to be near my parents when the world felt scary," said Nikki. "I slept on their floor until the 9th grade."
The 36-year-old comedian recalled the events of March 2020. "My parents were with me in L.A. when the pandemic hit. My mom was going on the Kelly Clarkson show with me, and I was also bringing my parents backstage for my appearance on Conan O'Brien. And then everything got canceled."
Nikki decided to come back home until the pandemic blew over. "Turns out pandemics don't blow over," said Nikki as she reflected on living with her parents in their Des Peres home this past year. "I'm still here. It's been awesome. I'm here by choice. I want to be with my family."
Julie stated, "There is one thing to be said about the pandemic. We would have never had this opportunity to have Nikki back at home with us. It's been fun. It's been a blessing in our eyes."
Nikki was preparing to move to New York City last March. COVID-19 derailed her plan. She signed a year lease on an apartment in New York but never moved in. Ever creative and always unstoppable, Nikki pitched an idea to create a reality show about living back home with her parents.
"I love reality shows, and I wanted to have this time in my life documented," said Nikki. "My family is hilarious. My mom will be golden on camera." Nikki smiled when she talked about her parents' appearances on her tv shows, podcasts, and Instagram posts. Julie and E.J. have proudly supported and celebrated Nikki's passion and dreams since her childhood.
"I can never chime in on conversations when other comedians talk about unsupportive parents and how hard family life was," said Nikki. "That was never my experience."
In fact, E.J.'s personal phone call to Nikki's middle school drama teacher may have been the catalyst that sparked Nikki's comedy career.
"I signed up to audition for a play in 7th grade, but I was too nervous about going," explained Nikki. "So, my dad called the drama teacher and said, 'My daughter is too nervous to audition, but she really wants to do the play.' I was given the role of an understudy."
This was a critical turning point because Nikki had an insurmountable and debilitating fear of speaking in front of an audience before this audition.
"I had to give a presentation in 6th grade. I was terrified. I made my presentation glow-in-the-dark so I could turn off the lights. I didn't want anyone to see my anxiety," recalled Nikki. Still, there were clues of her quick wit and comedic timing. In grade school, a classmate made a horrible comment about her buckteeth in front of the class. In that moment of pain, Nikki instinctively responded with a funny comeback. Nikki recalled the incident. "He said, 'Why don't you go into the forest and gnaw your own pencil, you bucktooth beaver.'" Without skipping a beat, Nikki replied, "I still need lead. You can't write with wood." Nikki added, "I never wanted to be in front of a group where people could call me ugly or gross. I never wanted attention."
But E.J. and Julie kept pushing Nikki to overcome her fear of speaking in front of people. When the understudies in that 7th-grade play had to perform one night, Nikki had no choice but to face the audience.
"I used that 7th-grade play as exposure therapy to get over my phobia. I did the play, and I realized it was that performing was the best feeling ever," Nikki said. She continued to perform in plays throughout High School. "I didn't get good roles," Nikki noted. "I auditioned for Anne Frank. I really thought I nailed it. I was ready to dye my hair black, cut it short and throw myself into the role. I got cast as Jewish town girl B."
In her senior year, Nikki was cast as a drunk woman. She received laughs from the audience and high praise from the director for her comedic timing. This sparked the idea that comedy may be a pathway for her. E.J. and Julie were encouraging and supportive as Nikki headed off to college.
Nikki tried standup for the first time in her freshman year in college. Nikki said, "One day, my friend saw a flyer on campus that said, Stand Up Showcase. She ripped it down, ran into my dorm room, threw the flyer on my desk, and said, 'You are doing this.' I said, 'Well, I guess no one else is because you stole the flyer.'"
Everything clicked when Nikki told her jokes on stage. "My friend held up her phone so my dad could listen to my set," said Nikki. "When I got off stage, I called my dad. I was crying. I said, 'I know what I want to do with my life." Julie and E.J. were thrilled. Julie stated, "When Nikki found comedy, we couldn't have been more excited for her. She found something she loves to do."
Nikki credits her dad for her artistic endeavor. "I learned my work ethic from him," Nikki said. E.J. Glaser is an accomplished guitarist and member of the local band Glaze and the Moonkings. Nikki started learning guitar while in quarantine. Julie listens while Nikki performs songs. "She has a captive audience," smiled Julie.
Nikki is known for her authentic, honest, and relatable humor. She explained that the weirdness she felt in middle school became the narrative for her comedy. "I can tell the story about my buckteeth. I can say that I slept on my parents' floor," said Nikki. "No one can laugh at me. I've already said it. I'm in control of what people think about me."
Nikki is passionate about being authentic and giving young people a voice. "I don't want anyone to feel weird, or alone, or like an outsider," said Nikki. "My goal is to be brutally honest all the time. I want to open up my diary and let people in." Nikki admits, "Everyone has self-esteem issues. We all have things that make us different. Thank God for that. That's what makes us interesting. I want to normalize that it's ok to be different. What matters is what type of person you are. What you put out in the world. I want to lead by example for girls younger than me, but also women older than me."
"She's doing a good job," said Julie proudly.
"It was so much easier to become successful because I had parents that believed in me," said Nikki. "I remember my telling my dad that I might need help until I'm 27. I got my first television show, my first major paycheck, on the eve of my 28th birthday. My goal now is to pay them back and get them into a good nursing home."
Today, as Nikki moves out of her parents' home and into her own apartment, her comedy continues to evolve. "I've convinced my best friend Andrew Collins to move in with me," said Nikki. Catch a daily dose of Nikki's life and current events on "The Nikki Glaser Podcast." Her new iHeart Radio podcast is live Monday through Thursday. It's just one of many current projects. Stay tuned.