In 11 Questions, The A.V. Club asks interesting people 11 interesting questions—and then asks them to suggest one for our next interviewee.
A stand-up scene veteran, Nicole Byer rose to fame as one of the more outgoing voices on MTV’s Girl Code, a show in which comics are interviewed about everything from one-night stands to how to ghost on a date. Now Byer is set to star in her own MTV show, Loosely Exactly Nicole, which premieres Monday, September 5. A semi-autobiographical show that Byer told The Hollywood Reporter probably shouldn’t exist on paper (“A fat black lady who just fucks people left and right on her show and we never talk about how she’s fat and black? That’s crazy!”), Loosely Exactly Nicole is Byer at her best and most straightforward, dishing out both jokes and truths in a way that’s hilariously refreshing.
Nicole Byer: What my favorite food is.
The A.V. Club: What’s your favorite food?
AVC: We have hundreds and hundreds of packs of bacon at the A.V. Club office right now. It’s almost too much bacon. It constantly smells like bacon.
NB: I don’t know if that’s a thing. I don’t know if there is too much bacon! I used to have bacon parties. That’s how much I love bacon.
AVC: What did you have at your bacon parties?
NB: We did this in college. We would have people bring different types of bacon, and beer. We would eat it and drink it, and then the next morning, be so shriveled up and full of sodium it was disgusting.
AVC: That sounds disgusting and delicious.
NB: It feels good while you’re doing it, but truly the next morning you’re like, “I’m not well.”
NB: I think I’d want to ride a flamingo or a pig.
AVC: Keeping it in the bacon family.
NB: I love pigs. I think they’re very cute. I really want a pet pig, but those micro pigs, they don’t stay micro. They get very big, so until they figure out how to keep them small, I can’t have a pig as a pet. But flamingos look stupid, so that’s why I’d want to ride one, and pigs are just adorable.
NB: Ghost. I love Ghost. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve just loved it. I call it a romantic comedy, but people are like, “No, it’s a thriller.” And I’m like, “No, no, it’s very funny and very romantic.” Patrick Swayze—I find him so sexy, rest in peace. He’s really great in it. Demi Moore truly leaves so much to be desired. She’s just fine. Tony Goldwyn, who plays the villain—oh, my god. So sexy. I love to hate him. Willie Lopez? The other villain? Very sexy, very scary. I guess I like it because all the men in it are sexy and scary, and then Whoopi Goldberg is so funny in it.
AVC: I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it.
NB: Oh, my god! We have to get off the phone! What’s wrong with you? I love it. You have to watch it. It’s so good.
AVC: Honestly, the premise never really appealed to me, but you’re very convincing.
NB: Just give it a chance.
AVC: Maybe I’d like it.
NB: You would. You’ll love it, I promise. Do you like Whoopi Goldberg?
NB: Do you like Patrick Swayze?
AVC: Who doesn’t?
NB: Girl, after you get off the phone, you’ve got to watch it.
NB: I find out a lot of things on stage when I perform improv, because I’ll say things on stage, and people will be like, “Do you really think that?” And I’m like, “Uh oh… yeah?”
A couple years ago I said something about women only having two eggs. It was a show with Sasheer [Zamata], and she was like, “Wait, do you really think women only have two eggs?” And I was like, “Yes. You know, those two eggs at the end of those tubes.” And she was like, “Ovaries. Those are ovaries.” And I was like, “Then why are they shaped like eggs?” For a very long time I thought women only had two eggs.
AVC: How would that work? Would you only be able to get pregnant twice in your life?
NB: I guess I thought they would grow back? I truly didn’t understand the female reproductive system. I guess I thought the egg would go down the tube and hatch. Like, they’d open up and then the sperm would get inside and then it would—I don’t know! I have no idea what I thought would happen.
AVC: Did you have sex ed in school?
NB: We did, but I don’t truly think they taught us anything. Health teachers are usually your gym teacher, and they are not qualified to tell you what is going on with your body.
NB: I don’t think any wrong information has been printed about me. It’s interesting, when people write about me and Sasheer, they will misspell her name wildly. And it’s not hard to figure out the correct spelling of her name. But that’s not about me.
NB: I eat like a 6-year-old. So truly, I don’t eat weird things. I only eat things that are recognizable out of a coloring book like a hamburger or pizza. Well, okay, here’s the weirdest thing. When I was little I used to love eating peanut butter sandwiches with tomatoes, and they would have to be on potato bread. I loved them. It’s so weird and I can’t imagine eating it now, but I used to love eating them. It’s a lot of flavors.
AVC: The potato bread would probably soak up all those flavors, so that could be good.
NB: I love potato bread. It’s so good.
NB: Madonna in Atlantic City.
AVC: How old were you?
NB: Old. I think I was 18 or 19.
AVC: How was the show?
NB: It was amazing. She never stopped moving. It was me and 10,000 gay men, which is definitely a dream, and I went with my two best friends from high school, and we got this hotel room in Atlantic City and we got so drunk, and it was so fun. In the middle of the night, I went down to the gift shop and just started taking things, so when we woke up everyone had a present from me.
AVC: Did you get in trouble?
NB: No, I didn’t get in any trouble. It was great.
NB: I got an offer to be a brand ambassador for milk, just for the dairy industry. And then I was like, “What?” They said, “You just go to a farm and hang out with the farmer, and then the farmer is going to come to L.A. and hang out with you.” I was like, “This is so weird. I have to do it,” but then they looked through my Instagram and thought I was a little too vulgar. So I didn’t get to do it.
AVC: Do you know why they came to you with that offer?
NB: I have no idea. I just got the weirdest phone call when I was working, and I was like, “Can you explain more of this?” And they were like, “We don’t really have any more information but this is the gist of it.” My agents, they’re good at getting me some weird shit. I was so sad I couldn’t do it. All I wanted to do was take pictures with cows.
NB: All four years of high school were pretty embarrassing. I just didn’t look good. I didn’t know how to wear makeup, and my hair was terrible. I thought I looked good, but I truly did not. There was one summer where I had braids that were curly, and I looked like a poodle. It was like a red-haired poodle. You couldn’t tell me I didn’t look amazing, but I looked very bad.
AVC: That comes up a lot in these interviews. We all spent hours getting to where we thought we were looking great, and in hindsight, it just wasn’t working.
NB: I’m sure I’ll look back in 10 years and think I looked crazy all of the time. Sometimes I walk around now and I’m like, “Do I look crazy?” And people will be like, “No, you look fine.” And I’ll be like, “No, I think I do, but I think I’m okay with it.”
NB: Well, I’ve stolen at the Madonna concert. I think specifically I stole candles and magazines, and I got enough for everybody in the room. Also, before the concert was over, we were very, very drunk, but I wanted a T-shirt. We looked at the prices and they were like $100 or $150, so I was like, “Madonna, come on!” So then I stole a little purple light that was on top of the register, and the guy was like, “Can you bring that back?” And I was like, “No, I need a souvenir.”
AVC: You just walked away?
AVC: They probably weren’t going to chase you down.
NB: No, there were so many people. Too many people for anything to happen. They would have to climb over the desk or whatever.
AVC: Was that the first time you’d ever stolen anything?
NB: When I was little, I was with my sister, and I remember saying, “We’ve got to take this Chapstick.” She was like, “No, that’s wrong,” and I was like, “Take it.” So I forced my sister to take this Chapstick. Then we were using it in the car and my mother was like, “Where did you get that Chapstick?” And I said, “Katherine took it from the pharmacy.” So then Katherine had to go back to the pharmacy and apologize. My mom made me do it with her, but I don’t know if I ever said that it was my idea or that I did it, too.
AVC: You sold her out.
NB: The most famous worldwide? Maybe it would be Ed Sheeran. He’s pretty popular all over the world.
I did red carpet the Grammys one year with Sway, so I got to meet a bunch of people. His life is wild. Katy Perry at one point was like, “Sway, I’ll text you!” And I was like, “Katy Perry texts you? How weird! How are you not freaking out? This is very strange.”
Ed Sheeran was very funny as well as the most famous person I met. They were talking because I guess Sway knows Ed Sheeran, too. I hadn’t said anything in awhile, and then I think Sway asked Ed, “What is your ethnicity?” He said, “I’ve got a little bit of Irish in me.” And I was like, “I’ve had an Irishman in me!” And he laughed really hard. Then later he brought that back up and was like, “If you want an Irishman in you, find me.” And I just thought, “What a treat. I think we just flirted.” I wish I could find that footage. It was on mtv.com.
Bonus 12th question from Adam Richman: “How many of these questions did you answer off the cuff, and how many did you prepare for in advance?”
NB: I answered all of them off the cuff. I didn’t realize there was a list I could’ve looked at.
AVC: What do you want to ask the next person?
NB: I want to ask the next person if they’re single and if they find me attractive. If they find me attractive, will they take me on a date? [Laughs.] What an awful question! I can’t wait to hear someone’s answer.