December 22, 1978 |
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Genres||Observational comedy, black comedy, insult comedy|
|Subject(s)||Everyday life, death, religion, philosophy, family|
|Influences||Jack Handey, Steven Wright, Dennis Miller, George Carlin, Sarah Silverman|
|Notable works and roles||Comedy Central Roast, The Jeselnik Offensive, Shakespeare, Caligula|
Anthony Jeselnik (// JES-əl-nik; born December 22, 1978) is an American comedian, television host, writer, producer, and actor. Jeselnik is known for his dark comedy style, which emphasizes misdirection, non-sequiturs, biting insults, an arrogant bearing, and a stage persona that frequently takes amoral stances.
Jeselnik was a writer for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in its first season and hosted a Comedy Central Presents in 2009. After releasing his critically acclaimed debut album Shakespeare in 2010, he began writing for the Comedy Central Roasts and moved up to performer in the 2011 roast of Donald Trump. He continued to perform on the roasts of Charlie Sheen and Roseanne Barr in 2012. In 2013, Jeselnik hosted his own Comedy Central series, The Jeselnik Offensive for two seasons, and released his second album, Caligula, which doubles as an hour-long standup special.
Anthony Jeselnik was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on December 22, 1978, the son of Stephanie and Anthony F. Jeselnik, whose surname and ancestry originates from Slovenia. He was raised in Upper St. Clair. Jeselnik was interested in making others laugh from an early age. In elementary school, he would often interrupt the class to tell a joke. On one occasion, a classmate was moving to a different town that was not generally regarded well, and Jeselnik cracked a sarcastic comment: "Oh, well, send us a postcard." When the teacher laughed at his joke, he realized that "if you're smart enough that adults get it, you can get away with anything." He would often stay up attempting to watch Saturday Night Live and, as he grew older, The Ben Stiller Show and Mr. Show. He graduated from Upper St. Clair High School in 1997. Jeselnik earned a bachelor's degree in English literature with a business minor from Tulane University in 2001. During his senior year at Tulane, his girlfriend accidentally burned down his apartment, which he would later use as early standup material. His original dream was to write the great American novel, but an internship in Los Angeles between his junior and senior years of college convinced him there were other avenues for a writer.
In his early twenties, Jeselnik moved to Los Angeles and was working at a Borders when he first tried standup. He found a book by Greg Dean[who?] in the bookstore that promoted his Santa Monica comedy classes. In his first attempt at a joke, Jeselnik did an impression of his father being stung by wasps. By the end of the skit—which lasted only one minute "but felt like 10"—no one had laughed, leading Jeselnik to swear off physical comedy forever. After being fired by Borders, he worked as an accounting clerk for Deadwood, during which time he would perform at open-mic nights. Inspired in part by Mitch Hedberg, Dennis Miller, Sarah Silverman, and Steven Wright, it was two years into his standup comedy career that Jeselnik had a "lightbulb moment." After writing a bizarre joke with a dark twist to it, the audience response encouraged Jeselnik to focus more in that area. The joke, titled "My Girlfriend Loves to Eat Chocolate," was later featured on Shakespeare. The place where Jeselnik found his "home" was the Comedy Cellar, where he said that they let him take earlier sets so he could go home early and go to sleep for work the next morning. The Cellar comedians, known for busting the chops of other comedians, were influential to Jeselnik, and he said the best at it were Jim Norton, Colin Quinn, Bobby Kelly, and Keith Robinson.
Shakespeare and Comedy Central Roasts (2009–2012)
Jeselnik's Comedy Central Presents standup special premiered in 2009, and he was named one of Comedy Central's breakout comedians of the year alongside Nick Kroll, Aziz Ansari, Whitney Cummings, Donald Glover, Matt Braunger, T. J. Miller, Kumail Nanjiani, and Jon Lajoie. In 2009, Jeselnik was hired as a writer for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. His dream job, predating standup or his first comedy class, was to sit around a table and "throw out jokes with people you respected." After getting the job, Jeselnik's pitches would be continually shot down as they were too dark. For example, he routinely fought for a single joke regarding obesity each day for a month, and although Fallon liked the joke, he felt uncomfortable performing it as it would likely jeopardize his likability with the obese. During this period, he was a regular at the Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village, New York City. Jeselnik would work hard each day for the show and then proceed to go to Comedy Cellar, have a "big stiff drink," and do his act, feeling "miserable." In March 2010, he approached the show's producers and told them he wanted to leave. "We understand—you want to go be Anthony Jeselnik," they said.
He recorded his debut album, Shakespeare, and in 2010 began writing for the Comedy Central Roasts. Jeselnik, who refers to roasts as "the Super Bowl of comedy," loved roasts during college and always tried to write for them. While Jeselnik was writing for the David Hasselhoff roast, Comedy Central executives took an interest in him and offered him an opportunity to perform on the next roast. Knowing that this would be his "big moment," Jeselnik refers to the Roast of Donald Trump as "one of my favorite moments of my life […] because no one knew who I was and it just really caught everybody by surprise. And the next day, my life was completely different." While Jeselnik had previously been headlining clubs, the audience often was unfamiliar with his brand of comedy; after the Trump roast, the crowds got bigger and Jeselnik felt more comfortable. Immediately following his performance, the network offered Jeselnik a "three-point deal" in which one receives an hour special, three Comedy Central roasts, and a development deal. Jeselnik went on to perform at two more roasts, the Comedy Central Roasts of Charlie Sheen in 2011 and Roseanne Barr in 2012.
Caligula and The Jeselnik Offensive
In 2013, Jeselnik hosted his own Comedy Central series, The Jeselnik Offensive. In preparing the show, Comedy Central was looking for a half-hour, four-nights-a-week show following The Colbert Report titled Midnight. Jeselnik's main draw was the monologue, where he felt he could tell jokes that he was unable to do on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. For the pilot, Jeselnik did a test interview with a celebrity but felt "so wrong […] it just fit me like a bad suit." For the show's first episode, Jeselnik performs cancer-related standup for a cancer support group. "I had to fight with Comedy Central to put that on the first episode," said Jeselnik. The network felt uneasy using the sketch as an introduction. Jeselnik pointed to the premiere episode of Chappelle's Show, in which Dave Chappelle plays a blind African-American Klansman, which he regarded as "one of the edgiest things they ever did." As such, the sketch opened the first episode and received a positive reception; Jay Leno called to inform Jeselnik "how much he loved the cancer segment."
The Jeselnik Offensive ran for two seasons on Comedy Central from February 19, 2013 to August 27, 2013.
Jeselnik resides in Los Angeles.
|2008||Down and Dirty with Jim Norton||Himself||Episode: "1.1"|
|2009||Comedy Central Presents||Himself||Stand-up Special|
|2009–2010||Late Night with Jimmy Fallon||Himself, Ron Dempsey (uncredited)||Performed stand-up twice; Also Writer|
|2011||Just for Laughs||Himself||Episode: "The Nasty Show"|
|Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump||Himself||TV Special|
|Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen||Himself||TV Special|
|John Oliver's New York Stand-Up Show||Himself||Episode: "2.3"|
|2012||Comedy Central Roast of Roseanne Barr||Himself||TV Special|
|2012–2013||The Burn with Jeff Ross||Himself||2 episodes|
|2013||Anthony Jeselnik: Caligula||Himself||Stand-up Special|
|The Jeselnik Offensive||Host||18 episodes; Also Creator, writer, executive producer|
|Maron||Himself||Episode: "Sex Fest"|
|2014||Garfunkel & Oates||Thomas||Episode: "The Fadeaway"|
|Comedy Bang! Bang!||Himself||Episode: "Amber Tamblyn Wears a Leather Jacket & Black Booties"|
|2007||2007 MTV Movie Awards||TV Special|
|2008||Night of Too Many Stars: An Overbooked Concert for Autism Education||TV Special|
|2010||Comedy Central Roast of David Hasselhoff||TV Special|
|Night of Too Many Stars: An Overbooked Concert for Autism Education||TV Special|
Awards & Nominations
|2011||Night of Too Many Stars: An Overbooked Concert for Autism Education||Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program||Nominated|
- Family names in Slovenia, ancestry.com
- Collier, Sean (July 2011). "King of Zing". Pittsburgh Magazine. Retrieved February 17, 2013.
- Nathan Rabin (March 12, 2013). "Anthony Jeselnik on roasting, ripping off Jack Handey, and giving the devil his own TV show". The A.V. Club. Retrieved March 12, 2013.
- Owen, Rob (February 18, 2013). "TV preview: Anthony Jeselnik loves being the jerk on new comedy show". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved March 13, 2013.
- Robert Mays (February 22, 2013). "Q&A: The Jeselnik Offensive's Anthony Jeselnik on His New Show, His Stint With Jimmy Fallon, and Trying to Hit a Home Run Every Time". Grantland.com. Retrieved March 12, 2013.
- "The Hot List". Comedy Central. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
- Maron, Marc (September 1, 2011). Episode 206: Anthony Jeselnik. WTF with Marc Maron
- "The Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen (UPDATES)". Huffington Post. September 9, 2011. Retrieved September 26, 2011.
- Donnelly, Matt (August 6, 2012). "Roseanne Barr roast was even ruder than you'll see on TV". latimes.com. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
- Donnelly, Matt. "The Los Angeles Times – Seth MacFarlane honored at Variety's Power of Comedy". The Los Angeles Times. The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 25, 2012.
- "Extra – Seth MacFarlane to Receive 'Power of Comedy' Award". Extra. Extra. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
- "Comedy Central Profile". Retrieved January 14, 2013.
- Berkowitz, Daniel. "Anthony Jeselnik Caligula special review". The Spit Take. Retrieved April 9, 2013.