On the offensive

On the offensive

Anthony Jeselnik discusses his new tour, Comedy Central and his dream roast

By Ian Murphy 03/27/2014


Some comedians cross the lines, and others ignore them completely. Anthony Jeselnik is definitely of the latter variety. As evidenced on his many stand-up specials such as Anthony Jeselnik: Caligula and his comedy album Shakespeare, Jeselnik doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to commenting on any number of social ills. He’s written for and appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Tonight Show and John Oliver’s New York Stand-up Show. His unabashed performances on the Comedy Central roasts of both Charlie Sheen and Donald Trump have become legendary. With the cancellation of his Comedy Central show The Jeselnik Offensive, he’s decided to hit the road with his slyly caustic brand of humor to flesh out some new material. The VCReporter spoke with the dark prince of comedy in anticipation of his upcoming stand-up show at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza.

VCReporter: Looking at the tour schedule for 2014 it looks as if you’re all over the country. How does the tour progression come about?
Anthony Jeselnik: I honestly have almost nothing to do with it. I just tell my agent I want to go on tour and he puts it together. It all depends on the material that you’re doing. Like, if I have new material I’m doing, I’ll start off with New York, Boston, Chicago — you know a big tour like that — and then when I want to work on stuff I’ll go to the smaller markets until I have a whole new hour, and then start all over again.

Speaking of new material, now that the Comedy Central show is done, what’s next for you?
I don’t know. I kind of just hope that while I’m touring, ideas pop into my head. I try and focus on one thing at a time and I get kind of obsessed with that. I worked on the TV show for a while and I’m just going back to my act and having the best hour that I possibly can. So hopefully at the end of this tour I’ll have a new hour to do, also working on the next special or I’ll go back into television development and then work on some new projects, but there’s no schedule. There’s no planned thing.

Do you still have a decent relationship with Comedy Central?
No. (Laughs.) But it’s just one of those things that I’ll take some time and see what happens. It’s a business, it’s not anything personal. It’s just the way the television business works. We’ll see. It wouldn’t surprise me if I was on there again, it wouldn’t surprise me if I wasn’t.

So no roasts coming up then?
They’re trying to put one together this summer, and who knows what will happen with that. I’m still up in the air; I’m still trying to make up my mind as to how much I want to hate them.

In regard to the other comedians you work with, on the road or at the roasts, are you friends or is there a sense of competition?
You know, I wouldn’t say it’s a sense of competition. All my comedian friends are all so different from each other, we all kind of focus on our own stuff. And it’s more of like a healthy competition that we kind of raise each other up, you know? If I see T.J. Miller have a new hour, it makes me excited to go work on my hour, or Kumail Nanjiani, the things he’s working on. So I wouldn’t even say we’re competitive with each other at this level, we just get excited for each other.

Is there anybody opening up for you at the T.O. show that you wanted to mention?
I have a couple of different openers. I always try to have an interesting opener. I try and get someone who is completely different from me and who is hilarious in their own right. So people who are coming to see me get a little bit of a comedy education. Give ’em something different.

I know you don’t go out of your way to offend people with your comedy, but do you find that it’s harder to rile people now because they expect that from you?

I think it’s hard. It’s getting more difficult to keep that interesting. I’m not trying to be offensive, but I am excited about talking about subjects that could offend. I’m not trying to say, like, “You have cancer let me make fun of you,” but I enjoy trying to make humor out of horrible things. As I get known for that and more people come to the table, it’s hard to keep it surprising and smart but I am always looking for ways to do that.

If you could roast anyone from history, who would it be?
I get asked this a lot. I always have the exact same answer, and no one believes me, but I would love to roast Casey Anthony, if we could ever make that happen. That would be the best. I’m sure she needs the money. 

Anthony Jeselnik will perform at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza on Friday, March 28. Tickets available at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling (800)745-3000. 

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