Anthony Jeselnik

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Anthony Jeselnik
Jeselnik in 2012
Born (1978-12-22) December 22, 1978 (age 44)
MediumStand-up, television
Alma materTulane University (BA)
Years active2001–present
  • Everyday life
  • death
  • religion
  • philosophy
  • family
Notable works and roles

Anthony Jeselnik (/ˈɛsəlnɪk/ JES-əl-nik; born December 22, 1978)[1] is an American comedian, writer, actor, and producer. He is known for his dark comedy style, which emphasizes ironic misdirection, non sequiturs, biting insults, an arrogant demeanor, and a stage persona that frequently takes amoral or psychopathic 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, he hosted his own Comedy Central series for two seasons, The Jeselnik Offensive, and released his second album, Caligula, which doubles as an hour-long stand-up special.

On July 22, 2015, Jeselnik replaced J. B. Smoove as the new host of NBC's Emmy Award-nominated series Last Comic Standing.[2] His second stand-up special, Thoughts and Prayers, premiered in October 2015 on Netflix; his third, Fire in the Maternity Ward, premiered on Netflix in April 2019. Jeselnik starred in the first season of the NFL Media podcast The Rosenthal & Jeselnik Vanity Project (or RJVP) along with best friend Gregg Rosenthal. The second season debuted in 2018 on the Comedy Central Podcast Network under the slightly different name of The Jeselnik & Rosenthal Vanity Project (or JRVP).

Early life[edit]

Anthony Jeselnik grew up in Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania.[3] He 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."[4] 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."[4] He would often stay up attempting to watch Saturday Night Live and, as he grew older, The Ben Stiller Show and Mr. Show.[4] 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 stand-up material.[4] He was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity while at Tulane University. 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.[5]

In his early twenties, Jeselnik moved to Los Angeles and was working at a Borders when he first tried stand-up. He found a book by writer and comedian Greg Dean that promoted Dean's Santa Monica comedy workshops.[6][7] 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 Jeselnik claimed "felt like 10"—no one had laughed, leading Jeselnik to swear off physical comedy forever.[4] After being fired by Borders, he worked behind the scenes as an accounting clerk for the TV series Deadwood, during which time he would perform at open-mic nights.[4] Inspired in part by Mitch Hedberg, Dennis Miller, Sarah Silverman,[8] and Steven Wright, it was two years into his stand-up comedy career when Jeselnik had a "lightbulb moment."[7] 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.[4][7] 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 that the best at it were Jim Norton, Colin Quinn, Bobby Kelly, and Keith Robinson.[9]


Jeselnik's Comedy Central Presents stand-up 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.[10] In 2009, Jeselnik was hired as a writer for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. His dream job, predating stand-up or his first comedy class, was to sit around a table and "throw out jokes with people you respected."[7] 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.[7] During this period, he was a regular at the Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village, New York City.[11] 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.[7]

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.[4] 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."[4] 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.[4] 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.[7] Jeselnik went on to perform at two more roasts, the Comedy Central Roasts of Charlie Sheen in 2011 and Roseanne Barr in 2012.[7][12][13]

Jeselnik appeared at the Power of Comedy event in November 2012.[14][15]

In 2013, Jeselnik hosted his own Comedy Central series, The Jeselnik Offensive. In preparing the show, Comedy Central was looking for a half-hour, a four-nights-a-week show following The Colbert Report titled Midnight.[7] 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."[4] For the show's first episode, Jeselnik performs cancer-related stand-up 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.[4] 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."[4] The Jeselnik Offensive ran for two seasons on Comedy Central from February 19, 2013, to August 27, 2013.

Jeselnik's first stand-up special, Caligula, premiered in 2013.[16][17]

October 2015 saw the debut of The Rosenthal & Jeselnik Vanity Project (RJVP), a podcast available on hosted by Jeselnik and fellow Tulane graduate, NFL Network's Gregg Rosenthal.[18]

In 2015 Jeselnik released his critically acclaimed third stand up special, and first for Netflix, Thoughts and Prayers.[19] The hourlong special offers Jeselnik's trademark dark humor for the first forty minutes and personal anecdotes for the last twenty. He discusses his grandmother's funeral, the Boston Marathon bombing, the cancelation of The Jeselnik Offensive, and the death threats he receives.

In September 2018 Jeselnik returned to Comedy Central, signing a multi-platform development deal which includes new episodes of a weekly podcast, The Jeselnik & Rosenthal Vanity Project (JRVP), where Jeselnik is joined by his friend and NFL Network analyst Gregg Rosenthal, and by producer and NFL Network director Erica Tamposi.[20]

Jeselnik's latest stand-up special, Fire in the Maternity Ward, was released by Netflix on April 30, 2019.

Personal life[edit]

He has dated comedian Amy Schumer.[21]

Jeselnik is an atheist.[22]




Year Title Role Notes
2006 Premium Blend Himself
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"
2015 Last Comic Standing Host 8 episodes
Anthony Jeselnik: Thoughts and Prayers Himself Netflix stand-up special
2018 Jeff Ross Presents Roast Battle Himself Judge
2019 Anthony Jeselnik: Fire in the Maternity Ward Himself Netflix stand-up special
2019 Good Talk with Anthony Jeselnik Host 6 episodes

As writer[edit]

Year Title Notes
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
2013 Comedy Central Roast of James Franco TV special


  1. ^ Jeselnik, Anthony; Rosenthal, Gregg (December 22, 2020). "Screw You, Anthony Is 42". The Jeselnik & Rosenthal Vanity Project (Podcast). Event occurs at 0:36. Retrieved September 26, 2022.
  2. ^ "Last Comic Standing Returns",, retrieved June 28, 2015 Archived September 2, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Collier, Sean (July 2011). "King of Zing". Pittsburgh Magazine. Retrieved February 17, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m 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 August 17, 2020.
  5. ^ Owen, Rob (February 18, 2013). "TV preview: Anthony Jeselnik loves being the jerk on new comedy show". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Archived from the original on March 7, 2013. Retrieved March 13, 2013.
  6. ^ Collins, Ashley Wren (2011). The Cheap Bastard's Guide to Los Angeles. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-7627-6003-9.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i 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". Retrieved March 12, 2013.
  8. ^ Anthony Jeselnik does TMI. February 16, 2012. Archived from the original on May 4, 2016. Retrieved November 29, 2016 – via YouTube.
  9. ^ "Anthony Jeselnik: Q&A on roasts, Jeff Ross and dating Amy Schumer". Archived from the original on March 22, 2013. Retrieved September 3, 2013.
  10. ^ "The Hot List". Comedy Central. Archived from the original on February 8, 2013. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  11. ^ Maron, Marc (September 1, 2011). Episode 206: Anthony Jeselnik. WTF with Marc Maron
  12. ^ "The Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen (UPDATES)". Huffington Post. September 9, 2011. Retrieved September 26, 2011.
  13. ^ Donnelly, Matt (August 6, 2012). "Roseanne Barr roast was even ruder than you'll see on TV". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  14. ^ Donnelly, Matt (November 18, 2012). "Seth MacFarlane honored at Variety's Power of Comedy". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 25, 2012.
  15. ^ "Extra – Seth MacFarlane to Receive 'Power of Comedy' Award". Extra. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
  16. ^ "Comedy Central Profile". Archived from the original on January 14, 2013. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
  17. ^ Berkowitz, Daniel. "Anthony Jeselnik Caligula special review". The Spit Take. Archived from the original on March 1, 2013. Retrieved April 9, 2013.
  18. ^ Wright, Megh (October 29, 2015). "This Week in Comedy Podcasts: ‘The Rosenthal and Jeselnik Vanity Project’ Debuts" Archived July 1, 2017, at the Wayback Machine. SplitSider.
  19. ^ "Anthony Jeselnik presents Thoughts and Prayers". Netflix.
  20. ^ "Jeselnik returns to Comedy Central". September 5, 2018. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  21. ^ Ruiz, Michelle (April 29, 2013). "Inside Amy Schumer: Realer Than Real Sex". Cosmopolitan. New York City. Archived from the original on September 30, 2015.
  22. ^ Rader, Dotson. "Comedian Anthony Jeselnik: 'I React to Sad Things with Humor'". Parade. Retrieved September 17, 2015. The 34-year-old, who started out writing on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon...

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