Anthony Jeselnik finds humor in the darkest places.
His stand-up bits have included references to children, mass killings and people who have died in shark attacks.
“If there’s anything you think there shouldn’t be a joke about, I’ve definitely got at least two jokes about that,” Jeselnik said in a telephone interview from the West Coast earlier this week.
Jeselnik, 38, performs stand-up through Saturday night at Off The Hook Comedy Club in North Naples. He said it will be his first visit to Southwest Florida, and he loves testing out his material on new crowds.
“People everywhere can kind of get on board with what I’m doing,” he said. “I like to go to places where people don’t know who I am. I like surprising people. It’s the person in the back going, ‘What the hell is going on?’ That’s my favorite.”
Jeselnik continues to become more popular, with specials like the 2015 “Thoughts and Prayers” on Netflix. His on-stage persona is a bit more arrogant than at least his one-on-one interviews, where he’s still confident but doesn’t take what he says seriously.
When asked if what he says in his stand-up is what some people have in their heads, he replied: ““If you’re thinking this, you should be in jail.
“A lot of comedians have this kind of sense of humor, but a lot of them dull it for the audience,” he continued. “Why not show people what I think is funny?”
His comedic delivery isn’t a punch to the face but more subtle jabs at audiences with well-timed one-liners. And he often surprises with a punch line that’s far darker than anyone could have imagined.
“I work on my timing. My timing is one of the things that saves me,” he said. “There’s a rhythm about trying to fool the audience, about what I’m trying to say next.”
His goal, he said, is trying to find someone in the audience who he thinks won’t appreciate his humor.
“I like the challenge. I like making the people laugh,” Jeselnik said. “I think I get funnier the more you get me.”
He grew up in Pittsburgh and went to Tulane University in New Orleans. His comedic influences include Steven Wright, Mitch Hedberg, Rodney Dangerfield and Jack Handey, who wrote for “Saturday Night Live” for years. Handey was known for his “Deep Thoughts” bit on the show.
Jeselnik credits Handey for helping him to develop his “unique voice” in comedy.
And for years, Jeselnik said, he thought people had to have grown up in New York or Los Angeles to become a comedian.
He acknowledged that his stand-up will offend some, and comedians become targets for their humor.
“We’re in a culture right now where, if you’re offended, you can do something about it,” Jeselnik said. “You can get instant feedback on Twitter.”
He uses social media, too, and in his 2015 special “Thoughts And Prayers” describes how wrote on Twitter the day of the 2012 Batman theater shooting in Colorado: “Other than that, how was the movie?” (To date that tweet has received about 1,200 “likes.”)
“Most people don’t understand that comedy is what I can do,” Jeselnik explained. “I had to commit to it, and I can never have a plan B. If I go on stage and they don’t like my first joke, it’s not going to get easier for them.”
He said he’s looking forward to performing in Naples for the first time, pointing out that he has all new material, with nothing from the “Thoughts And Prayers” special.
By Dave Osbourne
Article Source: Naples Daily News