His weapons are alcohol (which empowers his rants like a boozy version of a spinach-inhaling Popeye), swear words (with one in particular that's not generally accepted in polite American conversation), and, most important, the truth. It's that final element that so thoroughly infuriates the majority of his detractors.
Saturday evening at the Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Jefferies laid down some hard truths not everyone was happy with. A few of the offended shouted back, while others simply stood up and left. These quitters were in the minority, however; the rest of the audience let their cheeks and stomachs get a workout throughout what may be his best material yet.
Within the first five minutes, the Australian comedian was already pistol-whipping us with his favorite word. It's the one that rhymes with “punt” and that we'd probably get in trouble for publishing. In typical South Florida fashion, the crowd was still arriving after the show started, and Jefferies was growling at people to get in their seats.
Even though it was announced at the beginning of the show by the MC, several times Jefferies had to ask fans in the front rows to stop filming his set. He was calm and polite each time, perhaps not something you'd expect from a comedian who calls religious folks “fucking idiots” and who teased us by saying he'd just returned from California, where the “real Hollywood” is.
Once all that was settled, he began with a lengthy bit on Bill Cosby being a rapist. The crowd let out a collective “oh boy,” wondering exactly where his fertile and twisted imagination would take this. Imagine the line of good taste. Now, picture Jefferies not just crossing that line but gleefully barreling past it, a vodka pineapple in one hand, a middle finger flailing with the other. That's where he took the Cosby bit, as well as the rest of his show, and it was utterly brilliant.
One of Jefferies' unique talents is his ability to make us laugh at even the most sensitive of subjects, including rape. Before he really tore into the segment, he delivered what he called a “public service announcement.” It was a dry, exasperated statement reiterating that he believes rape in all forms is wrong. The overly dramatic, annoyed manner in which he said it was something like when a child apologizes because his mother made him. It screamed, “These are obviously jokes, but there are people out there who can't tell the difference between fact and fiction.”
Indeed, several times throughout the show, Jefferies felt the urge to pause and remind people that “these are just jokes,” we're not at a “TED talk,” and this is the sort of PC bullshit that doesn't allow for honest discussion of touchy issues. Thankfully for Jefferies, he has a forum where he can unleash absolute hell on the most ridiculous aspects of American culture.
After spending the first half of the show mocking himself, examining the various reasons why his girlfriend is leaving, the realities of parenthood, and the ghosts of his comedy past returning to haunt him, he addressed his gun-control bit that went viral last year.
Even as his speech became slightly more slurred as he worked his way through a pair of drinks, he remained incredibly clever and sharp, skewering the hundreds who send him hate mail on a daily basis. The gun-control video has changed Jefferies' life in a way that nothing else in his career has. For example, the mother of his child has been harassed online, behavior that's completely inexcusable. But it seems Jefferies has been spurred on by all this vitriol, coming across even more fearless than before.
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He dove into a variety of subjects that made a few people squirm: Trump, Syria, the Paris attacks, American immigration policy, legalized prostitution, and, perhaps most searingly, the nature of freedom. One of his most hilarious and scathing bits involved the irony of America calling itself the “land of the free, home of the brave,” considering our country's history with slavery and our preoccupation with criminalizing personal choices like drugs and suicide.
He saved the majority of his ire for religion. He criticized Christianity and Islam alike — no one was safe. Never mind that he was in a region of the country that's heavily Jewish; he went after them too. Jefferies does not back down, whether it's through spot-on analogies or shouting at the top of his lungs, from his conviction that Florida was responsible for the nightmare of the Bush years.
With this current tour, there's a good chance Jefferies' hate mail will double, and that's a shame. Jim Jefferies is not a terrible person; he just says terrible things to get laughs. He is the embodiment of all the truly awful things we think or joke about in private and would be immediately ashamed of if anyone heard. But more than that, he says everything so many are afraid to say. He's right about politicians distracting the American public by pitting us against one another with arguments about abortion and gun control when we should be turning our attention and our frustration toward them and other fear mongers.
Jim Jefferies is a crass, loudmouth asshole, and we should all be thankful to the gods he doesn't believe in for his existence, his jokes, and his honesty.