Nicole Byer’s had plenty of experience with soggy bottoms.
No, we’re not talking about her time at musical theatre school – we’re referring to her most recent gig as host of Netflix’s smash hit baking show Nailed It!, which features some of the most hilarious (and often terrifying) baking fails you’ll ever see.
When she’s not judging terrible cakes, Nicole’s busy re-watching RuPaul’s Drag Race (she’s a super fan) or Queer As Folk. But she’s not just a great ally, as she tells Gay Times that she doesn’t actually identify as straight – she’s a person who “just loves”.
We caught up with Nicole to talk about the show’s success, being a woman in comedy, and what it was like to meet RuPaul in the flesh…
Did you have any idea that Nailed It! would be such a viral sensation?
No, I had no idea! They asked me to do this show and I was like, ‘Oh, this seems very silly and funny and right up my ally’, because I love things that are so ugly they’re beautiful.
What’s the worst thing you’ve seen on the show so far?
I mean, those Donald Trump cakes were pretty horrific, but I also truly love them. Toni’s princess was literally scary, and Amanda’s donuts were nothing at all like donuts.
Those princess cakes were truly horrific.
Oh man, it was so funny!
Do you find it hard to walk that line between throwing a bit of shade and being downright mean?
A little bit, yeah, because you don’t wanna be too mean, and usually this is the first time any of these people have baked anything like this before. We give them these impossible tasks with only an hour or two to do it, and honestly we try to remind them that it’s insane that they even got anything on the plate at all. It is a fine line to walk. You just have to laugh sometimes, but you also have to remind the person that they have to laugh too.
Would you do well if you competed on the show?
No, I can’t bake! I had to make a cookie house for Jacques because he was on Rachael Ray and I couldn’t make the taping of the interview, so they were like, ‘Make a cookie house!’ And I literally poured it into the oven and I don’t know why or how I did that.
What can we expect from season two of the show?
I don’t know if I can really tease anything, other than: It’s wild. And I eat a lot of soup. It’s supposed to be a baked cake but it does not get baked all the way through.
How was your experience on RuPaul’s Drag Race?
Oh my god, what a fucking treat. Ru is so funny, there’s so much great stuff she says that doesn’t make the final edit, and Michelle is so funny too. They’re just the perfect duo.
And you got to meet RuPaul in full drag! Not many people get to see that in real life.
You’re correct, because she don’t do that unless she’s getting paid. It’s a lot of work.
Are you watching season 10?
Of course I am, are you fucking kidding?
Who are you rooting for?
Oh boy… I don’t really have a favourite, I like them all. Aquaria is so fabulous, and she looks great all the time; Eureka’s a big girl and she did my podcast, she’s really funny and she’s really sweet; and Asia is a fierce competitor.
You were a really big fan of Miss Vanjie weren’t you?
Ugh, she was my girl right from the beginning. I watched her interviews and she was all like, ‘Come get these cookies!’ She made me laugh really hard, and then she went home!
If one of the queens wanted to be you for Snatch Game, what advice would you give them?
Oh my god. I tell so many dick jokes and I talk about my pussy constantly, so most of what they would say would have to be bleeped out anyway.
You’re such a huge LGBTQ ally, why is it so important for you to speak out about this?
I mean, I love gay men, I love gay women – I just love people. I don’t understand how what anybody does in their personal life affects you, if it doesn’t affect you directly, you know what I mean? Also, I don’t identify as straight.
How do you identify?
You know Samantha Jones from Sex and the City? She once said she was try-sexual, so she’d try anything once. That’s me. I identify as a person who just loves.
When did your affinity with the LGBTQ community begin?
Well, I grew up in a church and my mother used to say that God loves everybody, and that was her message, so growing up I was like, ‘If God loves everybody, then nobody’s bad or wrong’. I mean, gay men are a little extra and I’m a little extra, we naturally gravitate towards each other. I went to musical theatre school and I was constantly surrounded by gay men, and all my best friends in high school were closeted but I just knew they were gay and that when they came out we’d be each others’ support. So I’ve just been surrounded by it my whole life, really.
Comedy is still a very male-dominated industry. Do you face discrimination as a female comedian?
I mean, people still question whether women can be funny, which is the dumbest question I’ve ever heard in my life. And then you get booked on shows where you’re the only woman, and you feel like you have to represent the entire population of women. But it’s getting more inclusive, and people are making their own spaces. There are black shows, LGBTQ shows, there’s comedy where everybody’s accepted and everybody can get a little weird. I think it’s changing. But then you tour and you’re like, ‘No it’s not. No. People are not ready for this.’
It must be frustrating when you know that you’re funny…
Yep, but that’s the reality of life. Sometimes people are like, ‘Women aren’t capable’, and we’re like, ‘Yes we are, we’re fucking strong, we’re amazing’.
You’re also very sex positive and body positive with your comedy. How important is it for you to use your platform to encourage people to love themselves?
At first I thought it was stupid that people were like, ‘Oh Nicole, you inspire me’, but the more people say it, the more I’m like, ‘Oh shit, yeah’. I spent a lot of time in my formative years not wearing a bathing suit, because I was like, ‘Everyone’s gonna die when they see my body’, or I would cover my arms because I thought they were too fat. And then I woke up one day and said to myself, ‘People can see that my arms are fat whether there’s a sleeve over them or not’. Everyone has fat. Some people have more than others, but everyone has the same parts essentially, everyone’s seen it before. So I started living very freely, and I hope that I inspire a little 12 year old to never cover up. That’s what I want.
Season two of Nailed It! will be available to stream on Netflix from 29 June.