This is the first of three posts on yesterday's adventure. This one actually deals with the show; the other two will deal with the ensuing adventures surrounding and The Empress and the experience of the Celebricrush. (My word! I coined it! Bite me!)
OK, anyone who has had a conversation with me over the past two months that lasted longer than five minutes has heard about Jim Jefferies: how I caught his "I Swear to God" show by accident on HBO whilst Lucky- and Chey-sitting at 2:00 a.m. and had my mind blown and the final breakthrough of a year full of breakthroughs.
Well, yesterday I schlepped my arse down to one of my less-favorite places on the planet, New York City, solely for the purpose of seeing Jim.
Because Jim is a fucking god, comedically speaking. Now, since catching "I Swear to God," I've been all over the Interwebs, looking for his performances. YouTube is a good source (aside from the legit clips his manager has posted, the bits from Opie and Anthony are great, ditto the Minty's 2007 appearance, interviews from the Edinburgh Fringe Magazine, a couple of other miscellaneous interviews--the one from The Cave where he impersonates the head of a circumcised cock... yeah--TV appearances in the UK, plus a couple of "pirate" vids shot on cell phone video from a couple of festivals). I am not an advocate of pirating for a lot of obvious reasons (1. I'm a librarian. Copyright must be respected at all times! and 2. I'm a novelist trying to get my shit published, a longtime theatre person, and a fledgling comedian--I WANTS PAYING, DAMN YOU! So I can't exactly advocate swiping shit when it's people like me and my friends who get screwed); HOWEVER... the two easier to find pirate vids are great, not in terms of technical quality, but in terms of getting a taste of Jim live--relaxed and at ease with his audience.
Now, anyone who deals with me knows how hard I am to impress. I'm a cynical old bitch who frequently crosses the line into Evil Cunt without even trying--I am DEMANDING. As a highly ethical being, I expect a degree of ethics from others (note: I say "ethics," NOT "morality" which is a bastard concept imposed by bullshit religions), and when I don't get it, I get cranky. However, when someone behaves with graciousness and magnamity...
OK, I hear the kin-niggots in the background shouting, "GET ON WITH IT!" and brandishing their weapons. Onward. So, I made a dinner reservation because it meant VIP seating. Now, honestly, the food at Caroline's... I wasn't impressed. The service is EXCELLENT--the servers are lovely, ditto the host/esses. I have a Bostonian's distrust of New York (sad, I know, but it's cultural and ingrained); Caroline's is a legendary comedy establishment, and I can't not recommend the experience of seeing a show there. Great service, great view, and a good value for the money. Just... just don't expect much from the food.
Now, as I was picking at dinner (because I really wasn't hungry; should have been, but wasn't), the early show let out. People piled out of the theatre, the hostess swept over the table near where a bunch of us were eating, and next thing I know, a figure I recognize is standing ten feet away from me.
Well, Jim started signing DVDs, shaking hands, taking pictures, talking with people... just a whirlwind of energy and activity. Well, Fan Grrrrl here pulled "Contraband" from her bag, and after hesitating, asked the hostess if he'd be signing after the next show. She said she wasn't sure, so I gave it a minute and when there was a lull, stepped forward with my DVD.
OK, a word about "Contraband": this was Jim's first DVD release. Now, I got my copy off of ebay a month ago after a serious pissing contest with another fan over there; however, I was a woman on a mission (more about this in the Celebricrush post), and no fucking way was some *grumblemumblenastywordforBritishpersonheregrumblemumble* outbidding me on this DVD, dammit. They tried, oh, how they tried, but inbred British defeatism will never overcome American entitlement and aggressive consumerism. So, I hand the DVD to Jim and he is shocked out of his mind and says to me, "Do you know how many of these exist?"
"Yeah!" Well, there was "Contraband" sitting on the table next to "I Swear to God" and he says, "Better picture on that one."
"Definitely hotter." I got a look for that one. Surprise, but why, I don't know. He is... right, Celebricrush next post, GET ON WITH IT.
Well, we got into a discussion of the merits of the two shows--of course, Jim saying that the HBO show is better, and the newest one... he's over the moon about "Alcoholocaust." (It's being released in the UK on November 8th, two days after my birthday. Save your pennies, kids. Actually, don't bother because you know I'm gonna preorder the fucking thing because I can't live without it. It's Pratchett Syndrome all over again, dammit.) And being a director, I have to say that while I Swear to God is a far more polished performance, I love Contraband because he's so much more at ease with his audience.
(And he is--the extras include the first night of the performance of his show "30," which features the sing-along version of "I Am the Egg Man." There is something really special about seeing a performer with that kind of rapport with their audience. As an actor, I love that shit. It just makes me happy. Reminds me of the first time I saw Bowie perform in '83 on the Serious Moonlight tour--the "comeback" tour, like the man was ever away--down at Foxboro. Singing "Space Oddity," he suddenly realized that the entire crowd was singing along with him. The smile on Bowie's face will remain with me for my entire life... BEAMING, joyful, as it hit him how much people loved him, his music, and that HE was causing this incredible moment with 60,000 people in a crapass football stadium, all of us holding up a means to fire and singing along. THAT'S MAGIC.)
Jim then launches into the details behind "Contraband"--how he hired three camera guys with his own money to make the DVD so he'd have something to sell at gigs, and then... then he got famous right after it was made. Problem was the distributor owned the DVD, so he bought himself out of it by buying them up. Evidently, I now possess an ultra-rare bit of Jim Jefferies memorabilia, and fuck you, no, I ain't sellin' it. MINE!!!!! *growl* Remember what I've said about my Bowie albums? (Including the original American release of The Man Who Sold the World, the infamous "cowboy cover," and Bowie wanks know of what I speak--I have most of his catalogue up until Never Let Me Down, including 12" of "Dancin' in the Streets" and "Absolute Beginners," the best fucking love song ever recorded.) Cold. Dead. Hands.
I got a pic with him (terrible pic, all dark and shit, but hey, I had his arm around my shoulders... perfect height... *sigh* The sad thing is that I've got two guys on the hook and a potential third. I am not short of potential action at the mo), took a pic for the lovely couple sitting across from me, and then offered to buy him a drink, which was refused, "Nah, I'm off the booze," and off he went.
Then came the show. Well, Yours Truly had VIP table #4. It was SWEET: little single table not too far from the stage, perfect view. One table in front of me, and I could deal with that. Brett McKenzie from "Flight of the Conchords" opened. Funny guy. I've never seen the show, heard raves about it, and he was nice to look at and fucking funny to hear. Good material, good opener.
And then... Jim.
The place went wild. Insane. And Jim bounced out clutching a bottle of water and hit the place like a fuckin' hurricane.
I will say this about Jim Jefferies: his DVDs are fucking hysterical (yeah, I know, gotta produce the "fuckgraph" to demonstrate how good something is by the number of times I use the word). They are. I mean, I was having laugh flashbacks for two weeks over, "UP! GUNTA! UP!" (and I hate fat jokes, never mind elephant jokes) Get "I Swear to God"--rent it, Netflix it, whatever, but see it. But if you get the chance,
SEE. JIM. LIVE.
The great thing about the Internet is that you can easily get a taste of a career progression. It's interesting to hear Jim in interviews (and in his material)--he is very good at describing himself as "not smart enough." There is NOTHING stupid about this man or his material. He has a natural grace on stage--FABULOUS timing, and even when he flubs a line, saves it like a fuckin' pro, laughs at himself, fixes it, moves on, and the audience loves it, loves him, and laughs along.
That's the secret, kids--bottom line, whatever form of performing you're into, acting, music, comedy, whatever--ENJOY YOURSELF out there. HAVE FUN. Be FEARLESS. Jim Jefferies exemplifies this--he loves what he's doing, he's having a good time, and he commits wholly to what he's doing, and is utterly fearless with his material. He doesn't give a rat's ragged ass who he offends (or should it be "whom"? Who the fuck cares? It's my sodding blog). I think this is why I am so enamoured and inspired by him--that's the place I started from and am getting back to. However small he may claim his dick is, Jim has got ginormous brass balls on stage.
Note that I'm not talking too much about his material. That's deliberate. It's his material, not mine, and honestly, I want you to spend your money and see him. I mean, get me talking face to face, I'll quote a bit, but I'm talking about the performance and quality thereof, not the specifics of the material.
Although his material... Again, fearless. He takes on religion--particularly Xtianity and its hypocrisy--relationships, women, lesbians (and anyone who has had the old Lesley Lesbian Lug experience will appreciate his view of humorless dykes). Actually, here I will quote: "If you hate men so much, STOP TRYING TO LOOK LIKE THEM!" Like I said, after certain experiences at Lesley, I thoroughly appreciated this bit. Sex. Lots about sex. He had a great go at America that I completely agreed with (anyone who has heard my rant about being a nation of entitled spoiled brats will understand) that became a bit on his own battle with depression. No excuses, no bullshit--remind you of anyone? ;-) And I couldn't disagree with him, honestly, and even when a part of me wanted to, I was still laughing. Hard.
After the show, he was just as gracious as after the first one, and several people went up for second rounds of pics and handshakes and chats... but more about that in Part 2, Celebricrush.
Jim, if you read this, THANK YOU and ALL SUCCESS to you! Part of me doesn't want you to be cast in anything because you're so damn brilliant a standup, but the actor and director in me wants to see you in films because you're fucking amazing.
Here is my final point about Jim Jefferies as a performer: he has been described as "Britain's most offensive stand-up comic" for his subject matter and language choices (I had already embraced the word "cunt" a while ago, but Jim... yeah. It's his word, and as he'll tell you, he does know better, he just doesn't give a fuck, bless him). While I will agree that he is not for the easily offended (i.e. the humorless cunts that seem to overpopulate the world these days), that description does his talent, performance skills, and material a grave disservice.
I worshipped George Carlin. Carlin was a god. He can't be replaced--he came up in a unique point of stand-up history, and no one can replace him. However, I think Jim is the Carlin of his generation. He's at his best not when he's doing a gag, but when he's telling a story, be it about his mother, his dad (Gods, I want to buy his dad a pint, just because he sounds like a hoot; his mum I'd like to make a cup of tea because raising three boys... ), or himself. Jim's a natural storyteller and if you watch his face carefully (and this is where DVD serves well), he will break your fucking heart. You'll be pissing yourself laughing, but your heart will be torn in shreds at the same time because his warm brown eyes go black with rage, pain and outrage over humanity's lack of humanity. He's already kicked the schtick habit so many of the greats held on to for too long--it took having a heart attack for Carlin to get pissed off enough to stop with the silly shit and just be his cranky, brilliant fucking self. Robin Williams has only just got to the point where he can be honest. Mind you, Jim has come back from cock cancer and is now facing liver issues, so mortality is definitely giving him a prod, but you know from his stories, it's never been easy. That's what makes for great comedy--Shakespeare knew that. You'll find some of his funniest bits in the tragedies because it was necessary.
Again, Jim, thanks for an awesome performance. You're a gracious, decent fella, and I hope you keep it together and conquer the fucking world. It doesn't deserve the favor, but fuck, man, it needs it.
One bitch, though--could you get your press release updated? Sorry, but the U.S. management needs to get their shit together and get an updated press kit together--just looks shoddy, and you are NOT shoddy. (Sorry, that's the producer in me. I smack people around for missing details like that.)
OK, on to Part Two, the travellogue/gushy post. Be prepared to roll your eyes, say, "Oh, FOR FUCK'S SAKE, RIZ, GET YOUR FUCKING HEAD OUT OF YOUR ARSE!" and laugh because it's gonna be one about my stupidly ridiculous life.