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Jim Jefferies: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

Jim Jefferies’s new show will get everyone talking. Not necessarily about his comedy, but they will be asking: ‘Just who was that movie star who got all "rapey" at the Montreal Just For Laughs comedy festival half a dozen years ago?’

Yes, shock of shocks,  Jefferies’ cornerstone story this year concerns another night of sex and drugs – allowing his more cautious fans to vicariously enjoy a night of ill-advised hedonism through his bawdy anecdotes. But while there might be a certain ‘so I was banging this chick…’ boastfulness about Jefferies’ set-ups, he doesn’t flinch from the less edifying aspects, which is where the comedy so obviously lies. Just because he has a bit of a swagger, it doesn’t mean he’s not a self-deprecating observational comic able to see the funny side of a mini-orgy gone pear-shaped. Jefferies has no shame – which only makes the stories funnier.

In a more straightforward stand-up vein, he berates the lack of ‘tough love’ today’s children receive – confessing that his own mother’s discipline once extended to breaking both his brother’s legs. Going too far seems to run in the family.

He can even spin a ten-minute routine out of a argument over armrests on a plane – about as far from the despicable material as you can get, you might think. Although,  Jim being Jim, not Jerry Seinfeld, the row escalates to include flirtations with racism and homophobia, which he stumbles into not because he intended too, but because he’s a mouthy fella. But that’s not the noun he uses to self-describe.

As usual, he mixes real-like anecdotes with shock-and-awe jokes, invoking terminal diseases, misogyny, paedophilia, the usual… But even though such unpleasant subjects have become as ubiquitous in comedy as the mother-in-law gag once was, Jefferies  can still evoke both a reaction and a laugh, firstly by going more depraved and secondly by simply being better at writing jokes than most.

His darkest fantasies stem from believing he’d be a great dad but a terrible husband – so contrives to get the child without the mother hanging around – and ends up with tips for the responsible child-molester.

Though his gags are reprehensible, there’s a cheekiness and a vulnerability that sets him aside from other shock comics – making this another fine hour of near-the-knuckle laughs. His recently-found sobriety referenced in the title has done nothing to knock the edge off this provocative performer.

Review date: 9 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Assembly Hall

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