First Gig Worst Gig

Leslie Liao

Leslie Liao

It was the first of times, it was the worst of times. This week we're looking ahead to the Glasgow International Comedy Festival, which runs from 13th - 31st March and features an unsurprisingly epic line-up.

Shining brightly from this year's programme are Frankie Boyle, Rosie Jones, Stewart Lee, Josie Long (and friends), Frank Skinner, Fascinating Aïda (The 40th Anniversary Show), local heroes Susie McCabe, Kieran Hodgson and Elaine Smith, and many more.

Flying in from furthest afield, almost certainly, is Leslie Liao from LA, whose career already sounds like a decent movie premise; from a day-job at Netflix to starring on it: she's on the new series Verified Stand-Up. One of US comedy's hottest new comics, Liao has appeared on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon and Montreal's Just for Laughs fest, and only quit doing regular jobs relatively recently.

So, will this be Leslie's first comedy festival as a full-time stand-up?

"Not my first festival, but my first time in Glasgow!" she says. "Since I'm only in town for 24 hours, my plans outside of the show are to sleep and eat whatever I see."

Let's hope a deep-fried haggis doesn't hover into view then. Liao will also be in London at Soho Theatre from 18th - 23rd March; but for now let's head back across the pond, and another debut.

First gig?

It was a showcase 'graduation' type of show as part of this writing class I took. I had been working with the other comics for months so we all felt comfortable with each other. My boss at the time came to the show, and I realised inviting him was a bad idea once I did my joke about how little I actually try at work.

Favourite show, ever?

Just for Laughs 2023 in Montreal - New Faces. Dreamy, high stakes, bizarre and awesome. Loved to share that night with the other comics too.

Leslie Liao

Worst gig?

Once I opened for a friend on the road, and the crowd didn't know me, it was late, they were drunk, and I was not winning them over. One guy almost verbatim heckled me and said "your jokes aren't good" - I love that man, because he made me stronger.

Which one person influenced your comedy life most significantly?

I know this is a cheat answer, but all other comics in LA (where I started). They impress/inspire/surprise me.

And who's the most disagreeable person you've come across in the business?

I have yet to meet them... and I am excited for that day to come!

Is there one routine/gag you loved, that audiences inexplicably didn't?

There is one I'm working on now that is not landing yet. About my relationship with YouTube recipe videos and comparing that to how men watch stand-up... I am determined to make it work.

How's your writing process? Disciplined, or just when you're in the mood?

Both. I give myself a schedule/homework, but try to schedule writing blocks when I know my brain can handle it. I've learned that forcing myself to be in the mood rarely works.

Any reviews, heckles or post-gig reactions stick in the mind?

One time a random guy in the crowd chased me down the street after a show to tell me to "never give up doing comedy" - which was creepy and nice. And once someone I love/respect said I always look upset on stage... which made me smile.

How do you feel about where your career is at, right now?

Shocked, grateful and honoured.

Leslie Liao: The Nighttime Routine Tour was at the Glasgow International Comedy Festival in March 2024.

Share this page