Stand-up comedian Jim Jeffries: the Cocaine Bear of Comedy

jim jeffries

No one would ever call Australian-born stand-up comedian Jim Jeffries politically correct. Up until very recently, no one would have called Australian-born stand-up comedian Jim Jeffries celibate, sober, or not without cocaine. That was what the irreverent Jim Jeffries put forth always about what it was he represented – unprotected sex, drugs and comedy, be it his stand-up or his television gigs such as Legit and The Jim Jefferies Show at Comedy Central.

Jim Jeffries was the Cocaine Bear of comedy.

That is, until the time of the pandemic, where he overhauled his entire life –  including giving up booze and drugs, getting married and having a kid, and taking to a vegan diet so to live longer, rather than his live fast die young usual demeanor.

Bravo sobriety.

Sobriety is great for a person, but how it all works when it comes to one’s art form is often a different story (not that I want people to do drugs, but I can’t tell you how many musical artists I have had to listen to sober who were so much more interesting when all whacked out). And while I didn’t find his February 2023, new Netflix special Jim Jefferies: High & Dry as biting as, say, Jim Jefferies: Bare, It was a welcome relief to find that Jeffries’ in-person stand-up comedy game was on point, prickly and happily and diabolically filled with fowl language, put-downs and massive doses of the politically incorrect. While I caught Jeffries on the last date of his 2023 tour of the United States at Bensalem’s Park Casino XCite Center, the stand-up will continue through March throughout the UK and April into all points Europe and beyond. Plus, there’s always his podcast, I Don’t know about That with Jim Jefferies with which to contend.

I’m always leery of stand-up comedians touring on the back of a new television special or album, something Jeffries debated at the very start of the Parx show by denying any connection between the two and calling anyone in the audience who believed that might be the case as ‘c words.’ Quite frankly, the ‘c word’ described almost everybody that Jeffries put down in Bensalem: all of Hollywood, especially Austin Butler for continuing the use of his Southern fried accent from his time in Elvis during interviews, Bill Cosby for wanting to continue his stand-up act once out of prison, and anyone questioning some of the more controversial brand names of Australia’s favorite foods such as cheese and ice cream (look, it up, it is bizarre), Fact is, Jeffries uses the ‘c word’ like most of use contractions – LIBERALLY. In that, it is an artform all unto itself, a master painting with oils.

In High n’ Dry, there was certainly more of Jeffries’ take on being newly married, getting older and dealing with baldness and with a few rubs against the LGBTQ+ and trans community in Dave Chappelle-like fashion (“I have no problem with trans people, but I do like the press,” he joked) than were in his live stand-up set in Bensalem.

At Parx, Jeffries did again invoke the name of Will Smith to reference the 2022 Oscar slap and make jokes at the expense of The Bachelor (yes, the ABC network reality competition show) as he did during High ‘n’ Dry. This time, however, he joked about how in the name of diversity’s success that The Bachelor this season included more unattractive Caucasian women than ever before, and that if The Bachelor really wanted to be inclusive, it would welcome those in wheelchairs to compete.

Along with dissing anyone who chooses to use the eternal no-no of blackface and brownface as a form of comedy, Jeffries does make fun of himself, and any man, who has ever shaven themselves partway, and given themselves a Hitler-style mustache for what he called “a Hitler face” (No, neither I or any of my friends have ever done this, so I’m not familiar with the obsession, despite Jeffries’ affinity for such facial hair for the sake of comedy or otherwise).

Continuing to make light of Austin Butler’s Elvis Presley accent two years after the bio-pic, Jeffries bet that the guy who played Dahmer got out of that character’s way quickly. And along with a “Made in China” finale that was mildly amusing, and poking sport at his mildly racist dad in Australia, Jeffries also made fun of – well, people like me right here – trying to write out what makes comedic forms funny only to sterilize them on the page (anyone keen on looking up the history of bastardizing live and impromptu comedy for the sake of the written word can start by looking up the case of Lenny Bruce against, well, the whole of the United States’ government censoring him for the crimes of public indecency).

Jim Jeffries’ best example of this – the homeless, out-of-work comedians during the Great Depression poking each other in the eye and yelling “Nyuk. Nyuk” of the Three Stooges. That bit was the smartest, most hilarious part of Jeffries’ stand-up comedy set in Bensalem, something toying with live comedy’s traditions and how literary forms should probably stay in its own lane. And not deal with ‘c words.’

    • A.D. Amarosi's Headshot

      A.D. Amorosi is an award-winning journalist who, along with working for the Philadelphia Weekly, writes regularly for Variety, Jazz Times, Flood and Wax Poetics, and hosts and co-produces his own SoundCloud-charting radio show, Theater in the Round for Pacifica National Public Radio station WPPM 106.5 FM and WPPM.org.

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