Pot, Tyson, and Casey Anthony: Jeselnik Shares Jokes Cut from the Sheen Roast
To put it simply, Anthony Jeselnik is hilarious.
Last night, in a packed Heritage Hall that was probably breaking fire laws, Anthony Jeselnik gave one of his trademark unadulterated performances that included a few jokes that were cut from Comedy Central’s Roast of Charlie Sheen. My personal favorite among these was this:
“You’re so fucking stupid, you dropped out of school faster than Casey Anthony’s kid.” What really made this joke great, though, was the follow-up about the joke being cut from the broadcast: “I was more upset about that joke going missing than anyone was about that kid going missing.”
To this he added a few Mike Tyson rape jokes that he couldn’t say at the roast as a condition of Tyson being there, and entertained questions about his experience on the roasts.
It’s this type of no-holds-barred comedy that makes Jeselnik stand out on the comedy scene. He will tell any joke. Any. No matter how offensive. While this clearly doesn’t make his an act for everyone, it also gives him far more freedom to be funny.
A large part of modern comedy is shock value—who can tell the raunchiest, least socially acceptable jokes and still get away with it—but there are still many jokes that most comedians won’t touch for fear of backlash. Jeselnik, however, really doesn’t care who he might offend, a very rare trait among comedians. The only one who might rival him in that respect is Daniel Tosh.
Some of his best stuff came from his interactions with the audience, like making fun of OS photographer Shawn Inglima (who gave us a little shout out, sort of) for being from New Jersey. Other memorable moments came when he commented on what a “disappointment” one English and philosophy major in the front row must be to his Lockheed Martin-employed father, and how much one audience member must hate dating a psych major. This was more of a situational humor that you had to witness for it to really resonate with you, but he nailed it.
He also talked about being from Pittsburgh and having spent time in State College.
“I used to come here all the time and get wasted,” he said. “I think I threw up on every corner here before I was 18.”
While reminiscing about those days, he mentioned how one time, after a date with a girl from Penn State, she passed out on her couch. Weighing his options, he decided to be a gentleman and get a blanket to tuck her in… and then leave a note saying “you were raped.”
“I think it’s appropriate to start off with a rape joke. It’s good to find out what kind of audience I’m dealing with,” he said. “You guys are going to be awesome.”
His interactions with the “sound guy” in the back were also a crowd favorite. After that first joke, he asked the sound kid to play the lion roar effect whenever he cued for it. Like when he explained that at one of his network TV appearances, he was asked to change a joke that played off the stereotype of Asians working at laundromats. His suggestion of replacement for that: building a railroad.
“For those of you who didn’t get that joke, you should’ve fucking paid more attention in class! Anyway, the point of that story is that people who get offended at jokes are STUPID.” Cue the lion roar.
The sound effect was also added, sans cue, after Jeselnik mentioned having had the chance to smoke pot with Mike Tyson at the Sheen Roast. “You just found out a little about Tyson there, and a lot about sound guy,” he said.
That’s not to say there weren’t a few things wrong with his set. For one, he made a few obligatory local references, like about how stupid he thinks kids are at a rival school—in this case, Michigan—and how he’d hate to do a show there because of that. He made two JoePa references, too. I hate when major acts feel the need to do that when they visit; it always feels so forced.
He also used some recycled material in the middle and toward the end. How many times have his fans heard the “I’ve spent the last year looking for my ex-girlfriend’s killer” joke before? The one cool thing he did with old jokes came when he asked for requests at the end.
But despite those two shortcomings, the set was great. Bottom line: Jeselnik is a master of the “anti-joke,” willing to be brutally honest and completely unafraid of offending sensibilities. That’s what makes him a great comedian. His final comment to the audience provides a great insight into his style:
“You guys have been great, though obviously I’ve had better.”