Emmy Candidate Nicole Byer Is Succeeding, but She Won’t Relax Until She Has a Private Jet – She is enjoying herself, do not misunderstand. In fact, the ever-cheerful comedian is experiencing the type of year she used to fantasize about in the late 2000s, when she was doing improv acts in a wet basement under Gristedes grocery in New York City. Now, she has been nominated for three Emmys: one for writing her Netflix comedy special Nicole Byer: BBW (Big Beautiful Weirdo), and two for presenting and producing the Netflix amateur baking competition Nailed It! The 35-year-old New Jersey native is also promoting her starring role in the NBC comedy series Grand Crew, which aired in December and has already been renewed for a second season.
By the time she joins our Thursday am Zoom call, her voice is hoarse. She spent the previous evening drinking wine at the Los Angeles premiere of the Diane Keaton-led comedy Mack & Rita, and she has a doctor’s appointment, a development meeting, and a dinner scheduled for the following day. I’m surprised when she pulls out her iPhone to expose her calendar: a stack of anxiety-inducing purple rectangles, each signifying another obligation in the never-ending business of being Nicole Byer.
As she scrolls through June’s schedule of meetings, appointments, interviews, recordings, and live performances, she declares, “June was terrible.” “Tons of garbage constantly. Nothing except blocks and blocks of crap to accomplish.”
She swears that everything is planned.
She explains, “It seems quite poisonous to say, yet I can work in the fumes.” “I’m really good at burning the candle at both ends, enjoying a decent, relaxing vacation, and then returning to the daily grind. I’m really fortunate to have a work that I like, so it doesn’t seem tiring.”
Still, Byer, a plus-size Black woman who has been vocal about the difficulties of not fitting the Hollywood paradigm, is showing symptoms of exhaustion, even if it’s the sort that comes from a solid career in a capricious profession where chances are few for individuals like her. Despite the fact that it becomes apparent over the course of our conversation that she could definitely benefit from an additional 40 minutes of sleep, she perseveres with professionalism. It is another another example of the fleeting nature of the entertainment industry, where artists are pushed to strike while the iron is hot.
Optimistically, it is also what occurs when one’s aspirations are eventually realized.
Byer came to prominence in 2013 on the Girl Code spin-off of MTV’s Guy Code, which featured female comedians and experts discussing everything from drinking to cosmetics to butts. Her funny and filthy perspectives on contemporary women, all delivered with the exuberant facial expressions of a buddy who had had too many mimosas at brunch, made her instantly noticeable. (“Like, you probably shouldn’t wear a shitton of makeup to school. However, I say eff it. You love it? Just put it on,” she insists in a severely censored portion.) It was a breakthrough performance for Byer, earning her a seat on a national college tour based on the play and transforming her into a legitimate stand-up comedy talent almost overnight.
“My manager was of the opinion, ‘Yeah, figure it out. “You do characters and sketches and other things, so find out those concept,” she explains, referring to her rapid transition to stand-up comedy.
She then got her own program, Loosely Exactly Nicole, which aired for two seasons on MTV and Facebook Watch and in which she portrayed a fictitious version of herself. But commentary is where Byer really excels, making her a natural match for the podcasting industry. Why Won’t You Date Me?, currently part of Conan O’Brien’s Team Coco network, has spawned a plethora of additional Byer-helmed podcasts, such as Best Friends with former SNL comic Sasheer Zamata and 90 Day Bae with television writer Marcy Jarreau.
What made Why Won’t You Date Me? so popular was Byer’s knack for creative, sardonic, and all-too-real insights about life, combined with her sharp and particular lived experience as a Black woman in Los Angeles. Over the course of 250 episodes, she has come to symbolize the futility and despair of contemporary dating, eliciting enigmatic information from her straight male guests and criticizing the dating service Raya and its many Australian DJs. Even while she acknowledges the program may be entering a lull after over five years of episodes, it is still an entertaining listen.
“I’m exhausted at this point,” she admits. “I can hear it in the episodes, as well. I changed the subject from my lack of a sexual life and dating to the fact that I am no longer dating. I’m too occupied.”
She has also used her podcasts to promote body acceptance in the entertainment business, criticizing the way plus-size individuals are treated and stating that she often carries her own clothing to sets due to the lack of wardrobe options. She is aware that fatphobia lurks around every corner, particularly when she tells me that both of her parents, who died when she was 16 and 21, died of heart disease, a coincidence that she claims doesn’t bother her. “As a big person, I am aware that someone will say, ‘Well, you should be scared, you fat pig!’ How can I worry about other things if I worry about every small thing?”
In addition to her (now Emmy-worthy) stand-up comedy and many hosting assignments, Byer’s straightforward and self-assured personality has opened doors for her as an actor. Take her NBC sitcom Grand Crew, about a group of Black friends in Los Angeles who exchange relationship advice over glasses of full-bodied reds. The concept was directly inspired by Byer’s booze-fueled hangouts with series creator Phil Augusta Jackson, who wrote the role of Nicky specifically for her.
“Me, Phil, Carl Tart, Echo Kellum, and a few authors like Ify Nwadiwe and Lamar Woods used to hang out at this wine bar on the eastside. We still do,” Byer adds. “My persona Nicky is based heavily on me. I would sometimes be on tour and out of town. I’d skip social gatherings and return wondering, “Who’s banging who?” OK, I must go.'”
In 2009, Jackson and Byer met at the front desk of the Upright Citizens Brigade theater in New York City, and the two were ultimately put on the same UCB improv team.
“Performing with Nicole as an improviser is really a joy. It was a thrill to be on a team with her as an official member of the theater,” Jackson told The Daily Beast in an email, adding that the two had “been friends for so long that writing for her is second nature at this point.”
It is nothing short of a dream come true for Byer.
“If someone had told me fifteen years ago, ‘You’re going to co-host a network television program with your best buddy,’ I would have said, ‘Really? Okay, it sounds entertaining, but I’m not convinced. “Consequently, it seems crazy,” she explains.
But has she succeeded? Will she ever feel at ease with a single engagement? Is that even the objective? She observes, “I believe that if individuals ever achieved success, they would cease working.” “Diane Keaton continues to work. She continues to exert effort and is a living legend! Who can say?
“I suppose I’ll know if I’ve achieved success if I fly private forever. “If I’m on my deathbed and I can say, ‘No commercial flights in the previous 30 years,'” she adds in the voice of a lifetime smoker ready to draw her last breaths, “then I’ll consider myself successful.”
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