In 2007, Australian standup comedian Jim Jefferies was attacked while performing at the Manchester Comedy Store. However, he turned something horrifying into a blessing: Ever since the incident, his career has taken off, as he’s won over audiences with comedy that covers topics such as alcoholism, religion and sex.
Jefferies will be performing at Spotlight 29 on Saturday, Nov. 29.
During a recent phone interview, Jefferies discussed what inspired him to go into comedy.
“I’ve been a fan of standup comedy since I was a little kid,” Jefferies said. “My favorite TV show was a show called The Big Gig. It used to be on every Saturday night, and it was just standup comedians and one band, or something like that. My biggest inspiration for being a comic was this guy named Anthony Morgan in Australia, who was like Lenny Bruce to me. He never really got big overseas, and he’s become a bit of a recluse now, but I thought he was awesome.”
Jefferies said that his first time onstage was rather unusual.
“I did very good on my first gig, but I didn’t do too good on my second one. It would have been better if I didn’t do quite as good on the first one, because then I wouldn’t have been so cocky on the second one,” Jefferies said with a laugh. “I did three open spots when I was 17, and I didn’t do it again until I was about 23. That second one went so badly that I didn’t have the confidence to get up and do it again for a few years.”
Jefferies now takes poor performances in stride.
“I’ve been through enough of them. It’s happened several times. I’ve been punched in the head; I’ve been booed off a few times—and worse than that is when there are no laughs. With being booed off stage, at least (the crowd is) in some emotional state where you could argue that they’re enjoying themselves. At least they’re working as a team and have had a better night than you have.”
Jefferies is also doing more acting as of late, and he said he hopes there will be more roles in his future.
“I just did a spot on a Christmas episode for a show on TNT where I play Santa Claus, and then I did a guest spot on Bad Judge on NBC … and I’ve got a movie coming out with David Hasselhoff,” he said.
He told an amusing story about when he first met David Hasselhoff: “He was standing next to the Knight Rider car. So that’s all you can ask for, really.”
Jefferies often covers atheism and guns in his act.
“In my experience, when it comes to overseas, atheism is a norm. It’s always weird when you meet a religious person, and it’s like, ‘Wow, you believe in God? OK,’ he said. “When it comes to over here, it’s a lot more common to meet a religious person than a nonreligious person. … I think the atheist angle works better over here in standup than it does in the other countries, because now you’re dealing with a counterculture. I didn’t really have religion shoved down my throat, but most atheists in America had religion shoved down their throats when they were kids, and their atheism has probably been more of a struggle for them than it has for me.”
Jefferies also discussed his point of view on assault weapons in the U.S.
“I think most people agree on assault weapons—not that they should be banned, but that there should be some control,” he said. “There’s no reason anyone needs a fully automatic (gun). … Who needs protection like that? They’re called ‘assault rifles,’ not ‘protection rifles.’”
Jefferies is best known in some circles for his FX sitcom Legit, which was cancelled earlier this year after two seasons. He’s still a little bitter about it.
“I would maybe like to make a movie just so I can wrap it all up. All I need is an hour and a half,” he said. “The way it ended was very unsatisfactory for me. I wake up some mornings like, ‘Oh, it ran for two seasons,’ and then I wake up some mornings angry about it.
“It’s been six months, and I’ve never had anything upset me more. A girl can dump me, throw me out of my house, and I can be over it in six months. But with a show like this, I have good days and bad, and I don’t think it should have been cancelled. It wasn’t shit, and the reviews were good—but it just didn’t get the right push for people to see it.”
Jim Jefferies performs at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 29, at Spotlight 29, 46200 Harrison Place, in Coachella. Tickets are $25 to $35. For tickets or more information, call 760-775-5566, or visit www.spotlight29.com.