luke kalamar goes on the offensive …
Plot: Taking cues from current events and his own stand-up routine, Anthony Jeselnik sets out to make the most offensive jokes possible. He also brings on guests in a panel format to talk about recent news.
Anthony Jeselnik has been on a meteoric rise over the past 4 years. In his early years, Jeselnik was an occasional guest on late night programs like Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Late Night with Conan O’Brien. He’s actually technically been in the business since 2003. It wasn’t until 2009 though that he got his big break by doing a routine on Comedy Central Presents. From then on he has recorded two stand-up albums, his own hour long special called Anthony Jeselnik: Caligula, and has appeared on several Comedy Central Roasts. His sudden rise in popularity put him on everyone’s radar and it came as no surprise that Comedy Central pegged him to be the next stand up comedian to get his own show. What sets Jeselnik apart from everyone else is his goal to make the most offensive jokes possible, which is why his show is called The Jeselnik Offensive. Tonight was the premiere of Season 2 and it was definitely not for the faint of heart or people without thick skin.
One of the recurring segments of The Jeselnik Offensive is called “Sacred Cow” where Jeselnik takes a socially taboo topic and makes a ton of jokes about it. He even interviews people who could be connected to that very topic. Tonight’s Sacred Cow was none other than necrophilia, which I’m sure I don’t need to go into any detail about. What I will say is that the “Sacred Cow” segment was easily the best part of the show, making me laugh to the point where tears were starting to form. Jeselnik’s jokes about this were good alone, but the bit became straight up hilarious when he was talking to an actual mortician and a psychotherapist about the concept. Jeselnik even asked them the Top 5 dead bodies they would … do things with. The psychotherapist refused to answer but the mortician named two before realizing how absurd it was that he was actually answering the question. The best part of it was that the interviews didn’t feel that awkward either. Both people Jeselnik spoke to just went with the flow, as if necrophilia was something they regularly talk about. It’s the blatant offensiveness and absurdity that made this segment so damn funny.
Then the show sort of petered out a bit when Jeselnik began the panel segment. The segment got off on the wrong foot when Jeselnik started talking about the panel as if it was some God-like deity. He even gave it a history similar to Superman and Jesus. It only really made me chuckle at best, and went on far too long to be really funny. Once the panel actually got going with special guests Amy Schumer (who Jeselnik used to date) and Jim Norton, the humor started to pick up, but only so much. The panel topics this week included Aaron Hernandez, child sodomy, how to kill a toddler with a gun, and a woman creating an art exhibit with her own menstrual blood. Did I mention that this show is offensive? The combination of Schumer, Norton, and Jeselnik was great and definitely had some really funny moments, but the humor never reached or even got close to the level of his Sacred Cow segment. It almost felt like the show was starting to plateau. It picked up a little with the final segment, Defend Your Tweet where the guests defend tweets they recently made, which started to send the show off on a better note.
The very last scene is when I laughed as hard as I did during “Sacred Cow.” At the very end of the show, Jeselnik likes to show “highlights” from the episode we just saw. The reason the word highlights is in quotes is because they aren’t actually from the episode. They’re just an excuse for Jeselnik to make some more offensive humor. This time it was a quick bit where a woman in a grocery store deli asked a bloodstained, meat cleaver wielding Jeselnik for help picking out some meat. When Jeselnik casually replied with a, “I don’t work here,” and a look of shock came over the woman’s face, I absolutely lost it. Again, it was absurdity on par with “Sacred Cow” and that’s what made it so good.
The Jeselnik Offensive is easily one of the most offensive shows on television, in a good way. Comedy Central has a long history of offensive programs that have found success, South Park, Chappelle’s Show, and Tosh.0 to name a few, and it’s clear that Jeselnik is trying to squeeze himself into those ranks. It helps that the show is genuinely funny from start to finish, but it’s unfortunate that the definite high points were in the beginning and the very end. Everything else in the middle was simply average in comparison, but not bad enough to the point where I thought, “Wow this sucks.” I’m honestly not sure if it’s the material or maybe the guests on this week that stopped the entire middle portion from being truly hilarious. It’s no surprise that The Jeselnik Offensive came back for a second season, but we’ll have to see if it can gather enough steam to bring itself to a third.