Over the last decade and a half, Australian-born comedian Jim Jefferies has become one of the industry’s leading men.
Through a number of acclaimed specials – 2009’s I Swear To God, Alcholocaust (2010), 2012’s Fully Functional and last year’s Netflix-exclusive BARE – Jefferies has kept audiences rolling in the aisles with his controversial, belief-challenging views on everything from America’s Second Amendment to being a father.
Speaking with The MusicNerd Chronicles following a triumphant tour of Australia, Jefferies says he wasn’t afforded the thunderous homecoming that some might expect him to have received.
“The thing is with Australia, is that if someone becomes famous overseas, there is often this attitude of ‘Well, someone thinks they’re special,’” Jefferies says. “The media is often mixed towards me.
“I sold 7,000 tickets to a performance at a Brisbane arena on a Monday night, so the good thing is, I am in the position where I can sell a lot of tickets in Australia.”
Like many comedians before him, Jefferies got his start on the stages of various open mic nights as he strived to become a stand-up comedian on a full-time basis.
“I was always very single-minded about the matter: I always thought I was funny, but I instinctively knew I wanted to be a comedian. So what else was I to do other than keep going to perform at comedy clubs,” Jefferies rhetorically asks.
“It’s a bit of a weird situation for comedians as, unlike models, you never hear of comedians being discovered in a shopping mall. The only way to get your name out there is to get out there and perform as often as you can.”
In addition to his popular stand-up comedy specials and sold-out shows around the world, the last few years saw Jefferies venture into the world of television with the show Legit, a program that he wrote, produced, and starred in for two short seasons on American cable networks FX and FXX.
He takes the cancellation of the show in stride, noting that while he thoroughly enjoyed shooting a television program that did not require extensive travel like his stand-up work does, the show did afford Jefferies the opportunity to confirm that he was not in fact an insomniac.
“Before I began working on Legit, I used to think I was an insomniac. It turns out I was just lazy and doing nothing with my life,” he laughs. “Back in the days of the caveman, I bet there was no cavemen who, after a day of hunting a sabre-toothed tiger, went home to their caves and just couldn’t sleep.”
Asked if he would one day like to return to television, Jefferies says he is keeping his options open, but admits that the decision is not entirely in his hands.
“I can keep pitching shows and ideas and tell networks why they should hire me, but at the end of the day, it’s not like I am some famous actor. One of my main focuses has been writing. I’ve been very fortunate to have total creative control over my projects, and, frankly, there are only so many spots like that to go around,” he says.
“It is arguably easier to get a job as an actor than to get hired for a creative job, because most shows need fewer writers than actors. In the meantime, I am totally happy to continue doing stand-up. It is my first passion and has comprised the majority of my income for the last 15 years.”
Jefferies would be the first to admit that his life has taken many personal and professional turns over the last 15 years. First and foremost, he became a father to his son Hank in 2012.
Fatherhood alone hasn’t mellowed Jefferies as much as growing older has, but fortunately for his fans, Jefferies maintains a definite edge to his work that he hopes people can continue to identify with.
“Being a parent hasn’t softened my work at all. Realistically though, it would have been sad for me to be in my 40’s and still talking about one night stands and taking drugs and what not. I would have been a sad looking individual,” he says.
“I think once you get out of your 20’s, you have to take the time to sort out your life a bit more. Of course, my fanbase is getting older so I’m sure they can identify with what I’m talking about. Don’t get me wrong though: I’m not on stage doing cutesy stories about my child. I much prefer telling people about the brutal side of parenting. It’s weird being a parent though: I look forward to my time away for tours and shows, and the prospect of having a bit of a break. It never fails though: Within 10 minutes of being on an airplane, I am missing my son terribly.”
What: Jim Jefferies
When: Thursday May 7, 8:00 p.m.
Where: Casino New Brunswick, 21 Casino Dr., Moncton
Tickets are $42.50 (plus service charges). Advance tickets are available at the Casino Gift Shop, by phone at 1-866-943-8849 and online at casinonb.ca.