Feb 6, 2024 - News

Dallas comic Iliza Shlesinger finds her roots on PBS show

A woman standing with the microphone

Iliza Shlesinger started her comedy career in Dallas. Photo: Olivia Wong/Getty Images

Iliza Shlesinger, a comedian who grew up in the Dallas area, is featured on the most recent episode of the long-running PBS show "Finding Your Roots."

Details: The show explores the ancestry of its guests, sometimes uncovering tragic stories.

  • Shlesinger learned her paternal great-grandmother Esther Szonek immigrated from Poland to New York in 1921 when she was 22.
  • Esther's brother died at Auschwitz, and another brother, Abraham Szonek, survived the Holocaust and immigrated to New York in 1955.

What they're saying: "When you look at pictures from history of atrocities committed against your people in particular, there's always that pull, but I never thought I had any actual connection because I didn't know any of the history," Shlesinger says.

The intrigue: Shlesinger also learned she is a "DNA cousin" — sharing identical segments of DNA on four chromosomes — with comedian Sarah Silverman.

Zoom in: Shlesinger credited her comedic success to her upbringing. She was the only girl in the improv troupe at Greenhill School in Addison.

  • "Women in comedy wasn't such a sticky topic," she said of her youth.
  • "I was never told, 'Women aren't funny.' Boys liked to be around me because I was funny. And my friends. That was my currency."
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