By Tyler Hersko
Jim Jefferies is changing. The popular Australian stand-up comedian has kicked the coke habit, is raising a son and no longer refers to priests as “pedophiles in dresses.”
Well, the subjects of his stand-up acts are changing, anyway. The comic went viral after getting assaulted onstage during a performance in 2007. Since then, Jefferies has skyrocketed in popularity thanks to his immensely successful specials, which are full of misogyny, drug tales and especially combative religious tirades.
There’s a difference between being an offensive comic and just being offensive and if Jefferies’ popularity is any indication, the comic has mastered the art of walking down that fine line. Take a gander at any of his specials; if you’ve got a dark sense of humor, it’ll be hard not to bust a gut at one point or another. With seemingly no rest for the wicked, Jefferies’ latest comedy tour, “Day Streaming,” found the politically-incorrect comic at the Silver Legacy Friday evening.
That said Jefferies’ recently released Netflix special, titled “Bare,” hinted at a shift of sorts for the rising star. Gone were the most of the overt obscenities. Jefferies’ notorious storytelling, which used to cover everything from bringing severely disabled friends to brothels to misadventures with cocaine and attempted threesomes, had less shockingly gross developments.
That’s not to say that Jefferies has gone soft. The special was full of raunchy good times, but still, a shift was evident.
Like “Bare,” the performance showed another side of Jefferies, and similarly proved that the comic is more than capable of bringing humor to a variety of topics. Jefferies recently became a father, and much of the night’s jokes revolved around his budding family life. Seemingly mundane topics, from toilet training to prenatal classes, were transformed into in-depth deconstructions full of offensive hilarity.
As with any edgy comedian worth his salt, Jefferies’ performance never delved into disagreeable vulgarity. There were certainly a number of lewd moments, such as a brief story about middle school locker room antics and breastfeeding, but their lighthearted treatment and relatable tone made for a thoroughly enticing and fun performance.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Jefferies’ performance was the sheer originality.
Despite having only released “Bare” several months ago, all but one segment of his Reno show was material outside of his specials. That one segment was pulled from his first special, “Contraband,” and discussed a far-fetched tale of European doctors murdering ugly infants. As far as dead baby jokes go, it was a suitably creative joke that still holds up, but it’s hardly among Jefferies’ best material.
That aside, a fair portion of the show featured impromptu interactions with the audience. Since the fight that propelled the comic into stardom, Jefferies has become infamous for crass exchanges with his show’s attendees.
After a presumably offended party left the show early on, Jefferies began cracking numerous jokes about the high rollers that occupied the venue’s front seats. Near the end of the show, Jefferies’ bizarre conversation with one of the venue’s hapless security guards resulted in the latter seemingly going off to gamble with the comedian’s money. Whether or not it was staged is irrelevant; the unexpectedness and sheer strangeness of the discussion was worth several laughs, even if it did go on for a tad longer than necessary.
However, that’s a minor quip. The vast majority of the show was full of racy humor and entertaining stories well worth the price of admission. While the performance never reached the ingenuity of Jefferies’ past jokes about gun control, God at a party or performing in the Middle East on his past specials, plenty of laughs were abound.
Jefferies opened the show stressing the fact that although his jokes weren’t meant to be taken seriously, he understood that his brand of comedy wasn’t for everyone. Despite the somewhat lighter subject material, his Reno performance may not have changed that fact, but it certainly proved that Jefferies is as versatile a comic as he is a hilarious one, and that he is showing absolutely no sign of slowing down.
Tyler Hersko can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @tylerhersko.