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And if you're looking for a laugh, search on the key word "fuckery." It's just my little thing (as the bishop said to the actress).

Friday, November 19, 2010

Alcoholocaust - the First Reaction

“What’re you feeding that kid?”
“It’s not what he’s eating; it’s what’s eating him!” - from The Stuntman

I’d like to state for the record that I am a fucking mess atm, and I’m writing because a) I have no tequila in the house; b) if I don’t, I’m going to scream and scream loudly; and c) I don’t fucking know.

Well, I watched Alcoholocaust tonight with Tory and the interview on the disc, and honestly, I feel like my heart’s been ripped out of my chest.
This is NOT a bad feeling.

Faithful readers, you’ve been hearing me natter about Jim Jefferies for the past few months like a pixilated school girl. Well, suck it up, buttercup, I am not giving it up.
Alcoholocaust is brilliant.
Utterly, completely, unabashedly brilliant. It was worth the wait. I will be roadtripping to either New Jersey or Foxwoods to see Jim (I’m hoping for Jersey because Tory may roadtrip up from PA—possibly with KJ—to join me). I don’t give a rat’s nadgers if it’s the same material; some of the material was done at the show in NYC, some of it I haven’t heard before.

And the brothel story I’ve been dying to hear? Genius. Brilliant. Heartwrenching. Hysterical.
Alcoholocaust is NOT a standup DVD, and to call it that demeans the work. Sorry, Jim, hate to break it to you, luv, but you’ve passed beyond being a standup comic and into the realm of storyteller. Drop the c-bomb all you like, man, but you’ve moved up the ladder.

I want to state for the record that I am a pretty damn demanding audience member. I’m a trained actor (yeah, yeah, I know, pretentious fucking statement, but true) and director. I know good from bad, I know when someone’s faking it, and when someone is giving their all. I’ve had a lot to say about truth on this blog (and have more to say about it, too), especially as it relates to comedy and performance.

Now, let’s talk about bravery. Courage. As Bert Lahr would say, “The Noive.”

Jim, you broke my heart tonight. I’ve been waiting for this damn DVD since August; maybe not a very long time, but still… It was so worth the wait. You weren’t overstating the quality of it when you were gushing about it at Caroline’s, and yes, it is better than Contraband and I Swear to God. You did exactly as I was hoping—combined the polish of ISWTG with the audience rapport of Contraband, and sacre merde, man… it’s a work of genius. If you were playing Boston on your birthday, I would buy you dinner and have my card out before you could even remember where your wallet was just to say thank you. Hell, I'll still buy you dinner with no strings attached.
Why? Well, kids, let’s run it down:
a) AWESOME material; from having a go at lesbians to women who don’t pay to the advantage of being gay to hypocrisy to the futility of dreams to the reality of dealing with depression. And the brothel story. Jesus wept for joy, the brothel story…
b) No prisoners, no holds barred, no stops, no excuses. Jim excoriates himself as much as the audience; he takes everyone to task for being stupid and being hypocrites.
c) Brilliant, committed storytelling – pacing, language, delivery all SPOT ON!

I said above that this is not a standup DVD; Alcoholocaust teeters on the edge of being a one-man show and brought back to mind Whoopi Goldberg’s debut HBO special back in the 80’s. If you’ve only ever seen Whoopi cutting up on Comic Relief or dishing on The View, you have missed something. In that first special, she created four vignettes of different characters and the material was piss-y’self-funny and heartbreaking.
Jim doesn’t create characters—his stuff is drawn from life, and I use the word “drawn” specifically—in the interview on the extras, he makes a point that many people take his material as verbatim from life—his opinions, his reality, who he is—and that it really isn’t, it’s about getting a laugh. As honest as his material is, it’s still being passed through a filter to turn it into art, and the Jim Jefferies, comedian and storyteller, is the public persona, an aspect, not the whole of the man. I wish some of his oikier fans on FB would remember this, but hey… it’s all in fun.

I had the joy of sharing the DVD with a dear friend ; I had been hoping it would arrive early (and it did—eleven days earlier than amazon.uk promised), so instead of putzing around in Borders over coffee , Tory and I holed up at Hole-in-the-Square where he was staying and laughed ourselves silly. Well…

I’m going to correct that. We laughed. A lot. But there were a lot of, “Oh, Jim,” moments—the “zing” line that hit home and broke my heart more than once. I keep saying that… allow me to elaborate, and I’ll use a bit of his I’ve mentioned before. Jim does a fabulous bit on foreplay—the difference between the needs of a man and the needs of a woman. It’s a hell of a wind-up—when he greets the cunt, I almost fell off the chair (and I’ve seen him do this bit live, so it’s not like it’s new to me)—and it’s classic dirty material, just a great bit on sex.
Until he hits the last three lines.

I’m not going to quote them here; you want to hear them, you can either buy or rent Alcoholocaust (or check YouTube to see if the bit is still up there; someone caught it at a gig; vid and audio quality is piss, but the performance is damn good), or better yet, catch one of his live shows—the UK tour is in full swing and US dates are being added finally. I don’t know who Jim wrote those lines for; I don’t want to know. But I know the next time (if there ever is a next time) I’m in that situation in a relationship, I’m going to remind myself that my way of seeing things is not necessarily the only correct view. Yeah, it’s that deep, and if your heart doesn’t break just a little when you watch that moment, you don’t have a heart.

The brothel story… A lot has been written about this bit. A lot more will be written about this bit. My tuppence… I laughed, I almost cried, and my respect for Jim Jefferies—which was already pretty healthy—went up a notch or four, and you want to hear it, you buy the DVD or go see him.
Tory and I watched the interview. Wow. Wow. Sacre-frickin-merde, wow.
I’ve been taken to task a few times for my fandom of Mr. J. over the past couple of months, and all I have to say is this: it’s really friggin’ easy to judge someone for shallow reasons—appearance, language, habits—stupid reasons, surface reasons. To judge Jim for his frequent use of “cunt” and the frankness of his material is a cop-out; it’s bullshit, cowardice, and you’re not paying attention. As someone who tends to use strong language (and loves it) and who blows people away with her frankness (“Wait? Did I say that out loud?” and half the time, it’s not a joke), and as someone who has been discounted and misjudged because most people are too fucking scared to be honest (particularly when it comes to sex), I definitely identify with Jim’s work. I’ve been writing in that vein for a long time—not the same stuff, definitely not the same material—and I dare anyone to produce another comic on the scene working at this level of honesty.

See this DVD; see Jim live, and keep your mind open.

You won’t regret it.
Postscript: Have just listened to the commentary (background "music" whilst trying to upload this and get some other stuff done on the computer)... Just buy the damn thing.

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