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INTERVIEW
Jim Jefferies

Who would of thought an Aussie could make
it in America, calling people c**t’s

If only the rest of the Aussie nation knew that formula would be a success in America, it would be Aussies Trump is trying to keep out, not  Mexicans…

 

Jim has had a hugely successful comedy career around the world. He’s an old school comedian who made it to the top the hard way, by building up a fan base through relentless touring. He’s had great success in the most unlikely of places, with America accepting his crude comedy with open arms.

There seems to be a sort of acceptance, as if no matter how obscene the words are coming from his mouth, the Aussie twang makes it all the more palatable. We caught up with Jim to find out what’s the secret to his success.

Let’s not beat around the bush, you’re back in the UK for a five stop tour, what can you tell us about it?

I’m going to bring two very good guys, an American guy and an Australian guy, they’re going to open up for me. I’ve gone a little bit Billy Connolly on the whole thing. I’ve got two long stories that I sort of weave in and out. Nothing political this year. There’s no political jokes. I just did so much of that on the TV show that I was a little bit funked out on the whole thing. I’m going to leave Brexit alone because I feel that England may have over-talked that as well.

Yeah, we’ve definitely had enough now.
That’s what happens when the world goes crazy, comedians go silly. Silly comedy reigns when the world goes crazy. When the world is a little crazy and a little bit of dismay, we all go political, hard hitting, then when it goes really, really fucking crazy, comedy has to revert back to silly.

The whole reason that Steve Martin was the biggest comic in the world when Vietnam was on. During Vietnam all they wanted to do was watch a guy with balloons on his fucking head.

You watch enough news, you hear enough about Trump, you hear enough about Johnson. I should just entertain you, so that’s what I’m going to do along with a few good old moves.

Well it’s pretty fucking funny to be honest. It’s pretty funny on it’s own, we don’t really need comedy to add to it because it’s fucking hilarious already.

When you’ve got these politicians that say such ridiculous things, the man on the street or just the journalists become comedians just quoting these people, so you’ve got to be a little bit more clever. So, I’m going back to doing a couple of stories about my childhood, but it will still be the same type of grubby comedy that you’re used to. I think this special is closer to my first three specials than the last one.

Sounds good. You’re an Aussie who has made a very successful career for yourself saying offensive things and using the word cunt lots, that description covers a lot of Aussie guys, what’s your secret, how did you get to where you are using that formula?

I think what the thing was for me personally in America was when I came over I remember that was the one policy in comedy clubs, the one thing, it was all comedy clubs across America was you can’t say cunt, and they would call it the C word, and they’d say, “You can’t say the C word. You can’t say the C word” and I would go on and do it anyway. I think that word actually helped me so much. I’d say it more than I needed to or more than I wanted to and I think what happened was…

Now all comics are allowed to say it at comedy clubs because I did it, but I think there was an element of, “These people haven’t heard an Australian accent today, I think they’ve heard the Irish, the British, but they didn’t know Australians said it, and I did it so casually that they found it charming, and then also another thing that I did was I acted dumb. I knew very well that it was a very offensive word in America, but I acted like, “Oh I didn’t know you couldn’t say that” and so people forgave me and thought that I was just a naïve fool. When in reality it’s the one thing that I couldn’t really say in Australian comedy clubs either. It is easier to sell your cultural shame overseas than to do it i at home.

I think whenever I’ve used the word cunt in America, I’ve found that it probably would have been less offensive if I’d just done a shit on the floor. They probably would have looked at that with less disgust. It’s always a word that causes huge outrage.

Yeah. I’ve been living here for ten years and I still act surprised when I can’t say it. I go, “No. I didn’t realise…” I’m well aware of their policy.

Talking of offending people, you’ve also based your career on saying things very close to the bone and with intentions to offend people. America especially and globally I think we’ve moved into a time of mass offense where people just like to be outraged. Have you found that you’ve had to tone down your material to avoid that internet abuse that comes out of it or do you feel it just fuels the fire?

You still get internet abuse. All I’ve had to do is just not read the internet anymore. That’s all I’ve had to do and so it’s a weird thing. I haven’t read a YouTube comment or a twitter comment about me in well over probably a year and a half now and it’s a game changer. I have someone else running my social medias and it’s like then you can only… You used to be able to gage your career, “Oh, these people don’t like me, these…” You second guess yourself too much and so now I just look at and I go, “Are my ticket sales fine? Are the people who show up to the gig, are they having a good time?” And then that’s all I worry about. You can’t let the internet stress you out man.

You seem like someone who’s not easy to offend or upset.

Yeah, I’m not… It didn’t bother me a lot. It’s not like I used to sit there going, “Whoa, why would they say this to me?” It sometimes it got a bit much when you wanted to send a tweet or something and then underneath you’d just get abused by a whole heap of people and you’re like, “Fucking hell, I was just making an innocuous comment about something”

So I just learnt to block it out. It’s for the best and I would encourage everyone to do it… There’s a lot of kids who get internet bullied and all kinds of stuff, and I feel like it’s very hard to then just not look at it. I feel like they’re under even more pressure because if you’re not on social media do you even exist? If you don’t have likes, do you even exist? You know, but for me I’m at the age where I remember the time before it, so I’m just going back to that.

The problem is is your PR and a lot of people who work in the engine room of your career, they’re all like, “Make sure you post about this. Make sure you post about that.” So I just got someone else to do it. I’m not Dane Cook and I’m not Chris Deleo and I’m not, you know, these comics who have a big internet presence. It’s like, I think Michael McIntyre doesn’t really do it either. You know what I mean and me and Michael started out together doing comedy clubs and that sort of stuff. I think he may have been the last of the Mohican’s. We might have been the last group of people who got popular just by people showing up and watching us, and then telling their friends and more people coming to see us, and not by posting little tiny pictures and stuff like that.

No, absolutely. I mean you’ve got a son now and he must be growing up pretty fast, he’s obviously getting more aware of things and a lot of your content’s on YouTube, how are you going to explain some of your clips to him when he discovers them? Some of your sets are pretty brutal. Have you had that conversation with him already?

I’ll tell you what, I worry about that every day.

I can imagine!

How can you tell your child not to take drugs when there’s so often you’ve talked about taking drugs? How can you make him understand the difference between a joke and reality? I do jokes. if you say to him, I go, “A jokes a joke and your opinion is just a thing and…”, you know, and I say, “Daddy makes money out of saying rude words” and all he thinks it is is swearing at the moment.

No, it’s going to be an interesting time for you, definitely, I mean, my sons 12 now and he’s definitely asking more probing questions.

My younger years didn’t set me up very well for this… I just hope that he thinks it’s cool my job, I’d just like that he thinks I’m sort of like, you know, he’s not embarrassed is my first thing and then if he can further the embarrassment… Now, also I’ve talked about him a lot in my sets too.

Yes you have! I think you referred to him as a little cunt as well.

I love my son more than anything in the world. I hope that he just realised that it’s jokes and I think as he gets older and he’s sitting around in a mansion that he didn’t pay for he might go, “Oh, fair enough.”

You must grow up with humour just growing up with you. I can imagine that you have fun and incorporate it into your day to day?

My son likes joking around and teasing us and that sort of thing. You never met a little dude that still hugs and kisses more than my son and he gets told he’s loved all the time so hopefully that’ll counteract it all, hopefully.

Talking about him a little bit more, do you worry about him becoming he American stereotype that you mock quite frequently in your stand up?

He’s definitely American. He’s definitely American, but a bit Australian, you know? The problem is he lives in Hollywood and a much different life than what I grew up to. He goes to clubs at school and it’s a much more different childhood to what I had, but that’s why I work harder, I want his life to be better than the life I had. He’s such a kind soul, I can’t see him being an asshole, I can’t see it. He just seems to be naturally not one, but, look, it’s going to be tough. 

Absolutely.

It’s going to be very, very tough. I’ve been here for ten years I still find his accent hysterical, that my son has an American accent. I still think that’s weird, and everything’s American and he just sits around eating macaroni and cheese and watching basketball, which is like, he’s an American kid.

So you’re obviously coming over to the UK, do you find that you change your material when you come over to the UK to what you would do for an American audience? Does it shift much or is it much the same?

This particular set I don’t have to change up too much. There’s maybe some bits. 

No, it sounds like a different flow to it with the stories.

Yeah, and there’s maybe 15 minutes of a change up for Britain and that sort of stuff, but also I like to talk about my time in the UK. I have a lot of love for the UK, especially in London.

I consider London my second home. I spent ten years, some informative years in London. I spent my twenties there and so that’s where I had the most drugs and the most casual sex and the most fun I ever had in my life was in London, so I look back fondly on my time in the UK, but maybe if I spent my thirties there I wouldn’t think that. London’s the best. A lot of it I was a pub rat, I never wanted to go to nightclubs, I just wanted to go to a pub that closed at midnight and everyone’s came back to my house and we all fucking got wasted and told shitty stories.

London is a great place to party.

The bars used to shut at like 11, or whatever, it just means that house parties all that much more better and also I didn’t have to bring up a child in London. I just lived in Crouch End in a little flat and down the road I had about five friends that all connections. There was loads of comedians that lived in that area. I think they’ve put a Soho House there now. There was so many comedians that lived in that little borough and the very reason we all lived there is it was close to the M1 and it was the fastest way to get out of London so you’d get to your gigs but still be in London. I fucking love London, man. I don’t know if that was the question you asked me…

I’ll tell you one thing I’ve tried to pitch to America, and I have no rights over this or whatever, but I tried to… Every now and again I’m in a pitch meeting in America I go, okay, so here’s a few shows that I try to sell to TV shows and then only at the end go, “There’s a show in Britain called Come Dine With Me.” And I would go, “It’s the best show on TV and you could do it over here and I could be the narrator. That’s all I would do. I wouldn’t have to show up.” I know there’s probably someone at Channel 4 that’s like, “Well that’s our show, you don’t have any rights over that.” I know that, but I would just ask to buy it off them and show it. I’m sure they’d be happy to sell it if I sold it for them so occasionally I throw it in.

I’d definitely watch that version of Come Dine With Me for sure with your narration.

The thing with the Come Dine With Me, every time I try to explain it to them they’re like, “Is it a cooking show?” And I go, “It is, but that’s not really why everyone watches it.” Because at the end they go, “If you want this recipe, go to Channel 4.com” or whatever like that. They won’t go and do that. No one’s ever done that!

I go, “What it is is you put like an old misogynist with a young feminist and a homophobe with a gay guy and a this and a that. Then you just see if they can get along having food.”

Yeah, just watch it all go off.

Yeah, watch it all go off and then you always have that one person who gets too drunk and I’m a big… I like that show, and the good thing is like, let’s say we were doing the O2 in a week or so now I thinks time, about ten days.

When I go in the O2, that’s what I’ll do in the afternoon, I’ll sit and watch a couple of episodes of Come Dine With Me and that’ll do me. I’ve got lots of comedian friends are also going to come and say hi, so I’ll get the hang out with them. Jimmy Carr said he’s going to pop by and the funny thing is, Andrew Maxwell was going to pop by, Andrew Maxwell’s one of my best mates and now he’s in the fucking jungle isn’t he!

I didn’t even know. I went to text him, I said, “Hi ya mate, I’m coming to London, I’ll be there blah, blah, blah.” His son text me back and goes, “Ah, Dad’s in the jungle right now. I’ve got his phone.” I guess I’ll be watching a lot of I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here and rooting for Andrew Maxwell is what I’ll be doing while I’m in Britain.

Have you got a favorite joke at the moment?

Ah. I always use quote like Mitch Hedberg. He did the best one liners. Now, I know he’s been dead for a long time, I’ll think of one of his…

Here’s one, I don’t have a girlfriend, but I know a woman who’d be very upset for me saying that.

Actually I do have a lovely girlfriend and her and her family are coming to the show at the O2 so I probably shouldn’t say that joke. Ah, well, fuck it. I’ll be able to explain it, just like all the explaining I’ll have to do with my son at some point…

You can catch Jim on tour in the UK in December. 

Tues 3rd  LONDON – O2 Arena

Thurs 5th BIRMINGHAM – Resorts World Arena

Fri 6th  MANCHESTER – Arena

Thurs 12th  GLASGOW – The Hydro

Fri 13th  NEWCASTLE – Utilita Arena