“I feel the left and the right are being a bunch of fuckwits now. One rule for all, or one rule for none. Even this conversation will get you in trouble with some people.”
Whether you know comedian Jim Jefferies from his critically acclaimed FX show Legit, Comedy Central’s take on the one-man political pundit show, The Jim Jefferies Show, or his viral gun-control bit, one thing we all know about him is he’s no stranger to making people angry. As he puts it, he’s made people on the left hate him and people on the right hate him, all while amassing a huge fanbase. Especially in Boston.
Prior to the pandemic, the Australian-born comedian and one-time opera singer shot two comedy specials at the Wilbur Theatre. In addition to spending a few New Years Eves in a row here, it’s safe to say he and the city fancy each other.
Now, after almost three years of writing and waiting to perform again, he’s bringing his best comedy special to date, The Moist Tour, to the Boch Center Wang Theatre on February 26. It’s a considerable upgrade in attendance with three times the amount of seats than at the other place down the block, but the Bare and Intolerant creator has earned every butt in every seat through hard work as an international touring comedian and getting punched in the face by an angry audience member. I asked him all about it.
How are you, because I know you had to postpone our talk because you were in the hospital, or had an emergency?
I had to postpone some gigs ’cause my baby had COVID. My wife had COVID and I had symptoms, but I never tested positive. Maybe I’m the cure. Fauci should take my blood and see what he can do with it. I’m living my life now. ’Cause my big concern was the baby. I’m glad we got it outta the way. I’ve been traveling around the country telling jokes, doing meet and greets with people. I’m triple vaxxed. I wear masks to be respectful of others, but I’m not worried about anything anymore.
How well did your nine-year-old son handle the pandemic and masks and stuff like that?
He was pretty good. We got him vaccinated. He handles it pretty good. Thank God for online gaming. I’ll say that, mate. Like that kept him connected to all of his friends. So, he’s been pretty good with it really. I try to make it as fun as possible.
As a comedian who moved from Australia to America, did you have to familiarize yourself with American comedy?
Yes and no. I often get asked what comedians influenced me. And the truth is I can’t give you an answer, that you’re gonna know who the comedians are because all I saw on Australian TV and Australian comedians. I saw Eddie Murphy’s Delirious. That was a big deal because that was released on VHS, but we didn’t get HBO specials.
My first experience with George Carlin was Rufus from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Richard Pryor was an actor to me. We didn’t even have, we didn’t get Saturday Night Live when I was a kid. So even when you saw something like Wayne’s World, you didn’t know that it came from a sketch. I saw all those Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd movies, and I didn’t know there was a show like Saturday Night Live. The comedians never came out to Australia to perform. When I became a comedian and when I got more into it, that’s when I started watching comedy, after I became a comedian.That’s the fun thing about me, I’ve got 40 seasons of Saturday Night Live to get through. I’m like, Oh, this is great. I watch them all on Hulu. They’re all sitting there.
Was there anyone you ever came across that you just got starstruck by?
I still get starstruck by meeting celebrities. I’ve become friends with a couple, I’m friends with Russell Crowe. He’s a great guy. And I was starstruck when I first met him, and now he’s just me mate. You know? So Brad Pitt came on and was the weatherman on my show. And he is just the nicest guy you could ever meet. I got starstruck when I met him. I don’t think it goes away. Then I get the flip side of the coin. Sometimes I’ll do a meet and greet and people will come up to me and they’ll start to stutter because they’re starstruck. And I think they’re starstruck for me? Like, what the fuck? You know what I mean?
I’m trying to think if there’s anyone that I was like, oh, Paul McCartney. I met Paul McCartney at the improv and I could hardly talk, but I still kept it together and sort of went, Hey, thanks mate. And he was like, You are really funny, man. You’re really dirty. And I just went, Yeah, I am. That’s all I could get out.
Your comedy’s well known for being two things with most audiences, offensively crass but also very insightful, especially when it comes to progressive and social political viewpoints. Have you ever found that some of your audience clashes?
I’ve alienated the left and the right. I guess that makes me a moderate. I have leftwing opinions and I have rightwing opinions. And I don’t even look at ’em like that. I just look at this is what I think. And there’s the Jim Jefferies Show, there’s things I look back at and I go, Yeah, maybe I should have left that alone. The problem with that show was every week you had to talk about something and the problem with being a political pundit was, if you asked me an opinion on something, I had to give my opinion on things, but I didn’t really give a shit on some of the topics.
I don’t wanna get into it now, because then I have to answer that fucking question, but Dave Chappelle said things I don’t agree with, but I still think he’s a brilliant comic and, from all reports, is a really great guy, I don’t know the guy. But I don’t have to agree with every single topic he has. And I agree with some of his rightwing topics. I agree with some of his other topics. We’re all individuals and you can enjoy a person on a level of, do they make me laugh or don’t they? But it turns out that’s not the case for many people, many people are all or nothing.
I’m looking at all the comedians who they are trying to cancel at the moment, and my friend Jimmy Carr is in hot water at the moment because he said a joke on his special. I can only tell you this: Jimmy Carr is one of the nicest human beings I’ve ever met in my life. I won’t say a bad word about the guy. When Jimmy Carr dies there won’t be many people who say a bad word about the guy. He supports young comics. If you are having a bit of trouble, he’s always the first to reach out to you and make sure you’re okay. If famous comics visit Britain from overseas, he always takes him out to lunch and takes him to the best clubs and stuff like that. So they feel welcome. Furthermore, he was joking. What Whoopi Goldberg said was much more offensive, and seriously ignorant and stupid. This is a lady who’s had a history of asking fucking Ted Danson to do blackface. She changed her name to Goldberg. And to now say that it wasn’t about race because they were both white people. And she got a two week suspension. I just dunno what the standard is now. I feel the left and the right are being a bunch of fuckwits now. One rule for all, or one rule for none. Even this conversation will get you in trouble with some people.
Have you ever met a fan you really wish were not a fan?
Yeah. Well, you get that of course. I have to assume that I’ve performed in front of a serial killer or two and a few pedophiles, you know what I mean? It’s a weird question to ask if all my fans are good people, basically it’s impossible. I’m sure there are a few people that I’m fans of that don’t want me to voice that. They’re like, I’d rather you just kept your mouth shut about me actually. Don’t pop in.
I really didn’t become a huge fan of you until I saw Legit. The show was amazing.
The second season took a big leap forward. I’m very proud of that. I like the first season, the second season I got more heavily involved in the production and the writing. But the second season was more my vision of what I wanted. And the third season, we were ready to go, I have the scripts ready to go and people ask me, Will that show ever come back? And the answer is now no, because Billy should be dead. We had a character from season one that was dying and now it’s eight years later. And so we can’t really bring it back, you know? But me, Dan, and DJ, the three main actors in the thing, we’re all still incredibly close. It was a very happy set in the sense that the actors and the crew we all got along. And I missed that show deeply.
Your show Legit was praised highly for how respectfully you featured and represented disabled people, was that a conscious decision?
I will say if you look back on those episodes, I don’t believe that there was ever, in any format on any TV show ever, disabled people were represented better than on that show. People weren’t given sympathy. They were given laughs, and in a dignified way. And even if they were being teased, they were teasing each other. I don’t believe there was anything in there that I’m ashamed of how we dealt with the disabled community.
I think now when you talk about diversity, the disabled community hasn’t been spoken for in that conversation. They need to be represented. I think that was something good we did. It was never a plan. It was something that happened organically. We had one disabled main character, who was based on someone from my personal life, and then he had to live in a home for an episode and we had to populate the world. And then Nick Daley, who played Rodney, was a dream. We had one disabled character that lived in the same room as Billy in the home. And we wanted him to be funny. We auditioned so many people, and it’s such a tough thing to say, this person’s gonna be making jokes, sometimes sexual jokes or dirty jokes, stuff like that. And most people had to come in with their parents, or caretakers. And then Nick Daley walks through the room, he doesn’t know how funny he is. Like, you could just feed him lines and he’d say them verbatim. And still to this day, me and Nick are still mates. He came to my show a couple of months ago. And it’s sad for me that show’s over, but I’m more sad that the show’s over for Nick. I almost teared up then. I’m sorry.
What can people look forward to seeing at the Boch Center on February 26?
I have to trim the show down. I got too much material. I went for two-and-a-half hours the other night on stage with all new stuff. And I was like, Ah, fuck. Cause I’ve had too much time to think about this stuff. I wrote two years of material. It normally takes me a year to write an hour. I didn’t work for two years. I wrote two, and now I’m in the third year of COVID, I’m writing another hour. So the good thing is, you can start weeding out the jokes that are a bit mild. I think it’s the tightest show I’ve ever had.