Eliot Glazer might be best known for his IRL role as Ilana Glazer's brother, but the New York native is a comedic force in his own right. After making a name for himself in NYC (famously spearheading the "Sh*t New Yorkers Say" video), Glazer's since defected to Los Angeles, where he works as an executive story editor on New Girl, among other things. He'll be back in town later this month, though, to perform his web-series-turned-live-show "Haunting Renditions" at The Bell House. The hilarious event involves Glazer and guests turning bad pop songs into classy classical ballads.

We caught up with Glazer to learn a little more about what makes bad pop songs good, as well as to get the skinny on Los Angeles versus New York.

How did you come up with the concept for "Haunting Renditions?"
I initially went to NYU for classical music— singing, for opera—and bowed out pretty quickly because I realized that was not the life that I wanted. So I moved into TV and film. Since then I’ve built a career as a comedian, and really cut my teeth in New York, and found that between stand-up and improv and sort of trying everything—storytelling and multimedia—I knew that I wanted something that let me stand out from the crowd. As a musician I knew that what I didn’t want to do was the go-to musical comedy bit of parody songs or silly original songs that are like double entendres. I wanted to do something different.

Here I've combined my musicianship with comedy. It’s strange and somewhat experimental medium to try it in, but it’s different. What it really is is a live concert with live music, but we think of them as bad songs made good. We sort of turn the low brow pop music into high art, by giving it this operatic, classical feel. And in doing so we’ve built a show that’s been going on for three years now, I think. We started at Union Hall, and we grew to Littlefield and eventually to the Bell House.

Are you involved in the orchestration of the songs?
What’s funny is that the show is really an extension of other parts of my life. My friend Seth, who works on Jimmy Fallon, he and I grew up together on Long Island and always collaborated on stuff, including ‘Shit New Yorkers Say’ and other web series projects. And we knew we wanted to do "Haunting Renditions" as a web series, just for ourselves basically. So we did that, and then the musical arrangements are done by my friend Mike Fram, who’s a music teacher turned high school principal. He was the musical director of my a capella group at NYU. So I’ve worked with Seth and Mike in different capacities but this was sort of the perfect marriage of all of those things.

What’s the draw of bad pop music?
I’ve always been a real music fan, and I’ve always loved reading music criticism and getting an understanding of what’s highbrow versus lowbrow, and why people listen to certain music and what it symbolizes for certain periods of time. I’m fascinated by what Chuck Klosterman writes. As a musician, I’m always hyper-aware of that kind of mentality, so ultimately I think that the sort of disposable nature of pop music, of bad pop music, is something that’s really fascinating.

Music is its own unique medium. It sort of covers time and nostalgia and the culture and instrumentation. It specifically mirrors so many things about society, maybe more than a TV show or movie might. So the idea of a bad pop song is fascinating to me, because it’s such a low brow and easily disposable pop culture item. When you can shine a new light on it and see it through different prisms, that can be really funny and really exciting because you’re sort of touching on nostalgia and taste and era and cultural ramifications. It’s all of these things wrapped up in one dumb package, and I love turning the dumb package into something bigger.

So what makes a pop song bad? What are the qualifications for a bad song?
I think inherently when a pop song is “bad” it usually fails the engine, the lyrics, the way that the music doesn’t feel necessarily indicative of anything or intuitive or even innovative. For me, what I think is that even when a pop song is particularly bad—or has that disposable quality—pop music in itself is really complex because it covers so many types of ideas and types of aesthetics.

One of the songs we do is “Mambo No. 5” by Lou Bega—a really bad, dumb, novelty song. But when you think about it, it was part of the Latin explosion of the late ‘90s, and yet it was literally just a guy naming women. He’s just naming women that’s he f*cked, which is a list. The song is a literal list, which is crazy to me. Or even like "One Week" by Barenaked Ladies—they’re just listing things. The funniest element of a pop song is to step back and remind yourself that these lyrics you know by heart are so dumb that to hear them out loud and slowed down in some capacity, repurposes something from your youth.

Like the lyrics to “I Want It That Way.”
Exactly. When you stop and hear the lyrics rather than just singing blindly because you know them—which is such a teenage thing to do—that is incredibly fun. What we try to do at the show is give bad songs a second life for you to laugh and also wax nostalgic about.

What are some of your favorite bad pop songs?
Oh god, that’s a big question. We have a canon of like 25 songs at this point. For me a really bad pop song is “Kokomo” by the Beach Boys because Brian Wilson was so innovative in what he created with the Beach Boys. By the time Mike Love took over and, I like to say, put Uncle Jesse on the drums, this “Kokomo” is another song that’s just a listing of get-away vacations. It’s sitting with a travel agent and going through some vacation spots you might want to consider. That is, to me, just unbelievable.

Sk8r Boi” by Avril Lavigne is a real dumb classic. You can’t blame Avril for being the kid that she was, but it is just really funny to stop as an adult and think of those really simplistic Romeo and Juliet twists that Avril filtered through like a fader’s lens. And also I’m obsessed with music of Ashlee Simpson. She to me is such an interesting character because she was created by and for MTV. Her reality show as a show about making a musician out of a non-musician who happened to be related to a singer.

It was sort of this Greek tragedy that just unfolded by her own action. The SNL f--k up was the glorious end to this sweet, sweet tragedy where we’re painting this grandiose picture of how accessible it was to be a pop star in that moment. How she made it and how she lost it, at the limit of our own voice not being very good.

To move slightly away from pop music—although I could talk about Ashlee Simpson all day, I was obsessed with her when I was 15—you grew up in the New York area, you went to school in New York, and now you live in LA. What have been some of the hardest things to get used to living there?
I think the hardest thing to get used to in L.A. it’s very cliche to hear but, it’s a one-industry town. It can be difficult to meet people who have a little bit more of a varied background. In New York you have so many industries and so many types of people, so the diversity of the city in just industries alone, is something that I took for granted. Also, I thought dating was hard in New York, but it’s so much harder in L.A. There is a real vanity here that’s pervasive in all aspects of life, so it can be difficult to find people of substance in that way.

But also as a comedian, maybe it’s because I’m a little older, but there’s a grind in New York where you do as many shows as you can, every night of the week. As I’ve matured and my stature has risen a little bit, I’m pretty nostalgic for those few years where it was really communal and familial feeling. I think it’s harder to find in L.A. because the city doesn’t connect you to the ground as much as it does in New York.

What are some of the differences in the two city's comedy scenes?
With the L.A. comedy scene you have more of an active audience that comes out to see a show because it’s happening, not just because they’re just wandering into a bar or a club. But also the audience reaction in L.A. is so much more polite, which has blown my mind ever since I’ve been doing comedy here. It can be jarring, but the audiences are just so on board and so generous and so kind that I’ve been caught thinking I’m bombing, but in actuality it’s just an audience of people who are potentially confused enough by Haunting Renditions that they don’t know what to make of it. Although they tend to enjoy it. It’s definitely been something to get used to, the reactions of the audiences. It’s different.

How are the bagels? That’s very important.
The bagels are not great. The pizza makes me want to cry. I miss so much about the food in New York—I miss the bagels, I miss the pizza. Look, tacos are the thing in L.A., tacos and breakfast burritos. But those are just not things that please me when it comes to food. Last time I was in New York, a couple weeks ago, we brought in a spread of Russ & Daughters Cafe. I almost burst into tears. It was unbelievable.

So if a young comedian were to ask you: I have a choice between getting my start in New York or L.A., which would you suggest?
I would definitely say New York because although there’s more potential opportunities in the traditional sector of entertainment in L.A., New York gives you so many ways to cut your teeth. There’s so many shows. If you’re starting from the very beginning, there’s so many open mics. But really it’s communities of sketch, and the communities in stand-up, and the communities in improv. All of these little familial units, once you start making a place for yourself it really becomes so familial, and it’s exciting. You really help build each other up, especially in moments where you might feel lonely otherwise.

If you’re looking to become an actor or whatnot, then I think L.A. is the better choice. But as a comedian of any kind, I think New York is a much better place to cut your teeth because you have so many places to grow. In L.A. it’s just a little more secluded.

What are some comedians that you like that are up-and-coming?
I like Jo Firestone. I mean she’s more than up-and-coming, but she’s somebody with a unique point of view who also works her ass off and does so many things and wears so many hats, and I think she’s just fantastic and really exciting to watch. I also love Naomi Ekperigin, she’s a friend of mine who did some writing on Broad City too. She is a hurricane. I think she bowls audiences over by filling so many different roles on stage, without shying away from any of the things that make her a minority. But also her voice and her cadence and the way that she speaks make me laugh so hard. I think she’s so funny.

I was going to say John Early but he’s not up-and-coming, he’s doing just fine. The Cocoon Central Dance Team. They’re a comedic dance troupe I’d guess you call them. They are so weird, their taste is so bizarre, and yet it is brilliant. I can’t explain what they do and I’ve tried to ask them what they do but I also don’t want them to spoil it for me. But they are so innovative in the way that they use almost the techniques of mimes to express themselves comedically. I can never turn away, they are just incredibly funny and exciting to watch.

Glazer will host "Haunting Renditions" at the Bell House on April 20th; purchase a ticket online.