|Like most Australians, up until recently, I’d never heard of controversial comedian Jim Jefferies, the former Sydney local turned international megastar who last year pulled off the astounding feat of scoring his own HBO special in America. But with reviews for his stand up ranging from “better than Jesus” (The Scotsman) to “sick and repellent” (Christian Voice UK) my curiosity was, understandably, piqued. Would this be the comedy equivalent of the Second Coming? Were we about to be blessed by the presence of one of the funniest men on the face of the planet? These were lofty hopes, I admit, but surely we had the right to expect something special, if not something miraculous? Instead, what we got was something quite different. I’d been warned to leave my political correctness at the door, which was totally fine by me, and as a person with a keenly developed black sense of humour I was sure that however offensive Jefferies intended to be it was nothing I couldn’t handle… I was wrong.The scruffy looking satirist strolled onto the Comedy Store stage and took a slug of his schooner of Jack and Coke. What followed was an hour of comedy that was so far beyond the realms of “offensive” that to call it that seems too tame, too benign – a bit like referring to cancer as an affliction rather than a disease. For over the course of the show Jefferies takes aim at – and irreparably insults – almost every member of society. The first group to cop it are women, who he claims wouldn’t know the price of the night’s ticket because they’d never be willing to fork out the cash for it… Hello? Had we just jumped in a time machine and gone back to the 1950s? I looked around to see the other women in the crowd gritting their teeth in violent grimaces as they shifted uncomfortably in their seats. We were only thirty seconds in and already he’d put half the audience offside. Was this a brave move or sheer lunacy? It seemed too early to tell, so I decided to hang on in there.
Next, he put lesbians through the wringer for the usual clichéd character flaws you’ve heard time and time again. According to Jefferies gay men are much more fun; although you’d wonder how he’d know as he doesn’t strike you as the type to be lending support at a gay pride rally. There was safer territory when he mixed toilet humour with blind guide dogs. True, it was tasteless, but still chuckle worthy stuff. But the centrepiece of the night was a true story, about helping a mate with muscular dystrophy get his rocks off with a hooker. For the first time there were genuine laughs to be had. Largely that was because the disabled man’s brother was actually in the audience and Jefferies kept checking in with him to make sure that the story was above board. Because of this it was actually touching in parts and very funny, although like a horny schoolboy Jefferies couldn’t resist a good gross out moment, which was a pity.
But as the hour wore on it seemed like the Jack and Coke started to do more of the talking as he stumbled around the stage and turned nasty on an Irish heckler down the front. The poor bloke got more than he’d bargained for when Jefferies started insulting his dead mother in ways much too foul to mention. Then, quite abruptly, the night was over, as Jefferies slurred, “My bladder’s full. I need to take a piss”, and we all gratefully ran for the door a bit shaken more than stirred. As we walked down the stairs and out onto the street I overheard a girl ahead of us say, “I feel like I need to be disinfected”, and I knew exactly what she meant; because trying to laugh at the jokes of Jim Jefferies is a bit like being handed a colourful cocktail of super-strength rocket fuel. At first you think “woo hoo, I’ll give this a burl”, but as soon as it’s down the hatch you quickly discover it’s actually a glass full of battery acid and razorblades.
Venue: Comedy Store Sydney | The Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park (Formerly Fox Studios)
Persons under 18 years must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
This review first appeared on Australian Stage July 2010