You’ve heard of art imitating life? Leslie Liao took that to a whole new level last year. She went from working in Human Resources at Netflix, to having her own Netflix special.

Netflx’s loss is, er, Netflix's gain.

The LA-based comedian had racked up six years within the streaming giant’s HR department while moonlighting as a stand-up comedian in the evening.

Through her tireless (and tiring) hard work, she paid her dues, worked the open mic scene, and is now firmly ‘big time’ status, with a tour spanning the US and UK.

Here she talks us through her journey.

Leslie Liao

Meeting Jason Cheny at Westside Comedy Theatre

The benefit of doing comedy in LA is ending up on shows with other comics you've admired from afar, and actually becoming real life buddies with them.

The night I met Jason Cheny (an LA-based comic) where we were on the same lineup at the Westside Comedy Theatre in Santa Monica is a great example.

He was super kind to me before he even saw me perform, and since I wanted us to be friends I decided to put extra effort into my set.

During my set, I remember doing really well and seeing his huge smile from the back of the room. That night he told me he was an instant fan, and the next day proceeded to tell so many people about me, which inevitably led me to meeting my now management company – which in turn led to 2023 being an absurdly lucky and successful year for me.

Just For Laughs (New Faces) 2023 Audition

I've attended many auditions/showcases for Just For Laughs New Faces and seen friends have amazing sets and discovered new comics that I love.

The night I had my first tryout, I was more excited than nervous because I assumed I wouldn't get chosen and felt like I could confidently have a good short set at the very least.

To my frustration, the crowd felt stiff as if they were allowing the stakes and pressure to overcome not only the comics, but themselves – and the whole thing didn't feel like a normal comedy show.

Out of a pure urge to "fix" the room, I remember performing my prepared set with way more intensity than usual and feeling a sense of accomplishment when I left the stage, but still predicted that it didn't land me a New Faces spot. I ended up being wrong.

Leslie Liao

Netflix is A Joke / Are You Still Listening showcase

There are certain shows where I objectively expect to be off my game and nervous, and overthink.

The night I was on the lineup for Netflix Is A Joke Presents: Are You Still Listening? showcase in LA (the monthly show that Netflix Stand Up hosts), I was shocked that I was so relaxed and felt "zen."

I should have been nervous - the Netflix Stand Up team was about to watch me do stand up live for the first time. For whatever reason, I shut out any symptoms of imposter syndrome, stayed in the zone and had fun.

I remember thanking myself for going to so many open mics, saying yes to so many random shows just for the stage time, to get me ready for that night.

I had absolutely no idea that night would contribute to me joining the amazing lineup for Verified Stand Up on Netflix.

The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon


This was one of the dreamiest days of my life.

I'll share the highlights: hanging out in the studio hallway looking at the photo display of past Tonight Show hosts and moments; the moment they handed me the microphone backstage; dancing to The Roots backstage before I walked through the curtain; hearing Jimmy say my name out loud on TV; seeing the cameramen laugh during my set; and my best friend crying and clapping after my set because it went way better than she expected (she is a huge fan).

Following Bill Burr at the Comedy Store

Bill dropped in on a show I was doing in the Main Room, and just my luck, I was scheduled to go up right after him.

I knew the level of difficulty was ridiculously high, but I somehow felt calm and measured.

He did great, the crowd was in love with him, and of course were on a high after seeing him. Considering what I walked into, I did not crumble, which I'm convinced made me stronger.

To see Leslie perform live, buy tickets here.