A couple months ago I reviewed the new Kyle Cease album called “I Highly Recommend This.” In that review, I commented on the recent trend in stand-up where comics will take the stage and tell the audience how edgy or weird they are going to be -- “folks, you better be ready for this, because if you can’t take what I’m about to unleash, you might as well leave the club right now.”
In my opinion, this approach fails much more often than it works. I think the reason why this fails is that when a comic tells us they are going to be edgy or weird, we all sort of have our own definition of what that means. Then, unless the material matches our definition, our expectations are not met, and material that otherwise might have been funny simply falls flat.
As with most things in life, however, there are exceptions to that rule. Anthony Jeselnik is the epitome of the exception to the rule. Jeselnik takes the stage and tells you he is funny, tells you he is offensive, tells you he is arrogant, tells you, more or less, that he is the bees knees. Jeselnik’s stage persona may be that of a confident, arrogant jackass, but it all works … and works amazingly well. Jeselnik may be one of the most exciting young comics working today.
Jeselnik’s first album, Shakespeare, was an instant comedy classic. In mid-January, 2013, his sophomore effort, Caligula, will be released by Comedy Central Records in separate comedy DVD and CD versions.
As with his first album, Caligula contains no long-form stories. Instead, Jeselnik focuses exclusively on short, almost “one liner” type jokes. He opens with a rape joke, something not many comics aside from George Carlin are either willing or capable of doing. He then moves into topics such as religion, death, suicide, and sex, all delivered in a calm, confident and deliberate manner that comes together as the vehicle for delivering comedy gold. I won’t repeat any of the jokes here, as Jeselnik’s delivery and timing are critical to a true appreciation of the material.
Although definitely not a focus of the album, Jeselnik also proves his chops at dealing with hecklers and engaging in audience interaction.
On this album, Jeselnik admits to only being in the stand-up game for the last ten years, which is not much time. To have two high quality albums under his belt after only a decade is quite an accomplishment.
The only negative criticism I have of this album is not with the content, but with the editing. There are several really harsh transitions between certain tracks where the laughter, and even the volume at times, does not smoothly flow between tracks.
As mentioned, this album comes out in the middle of January, but I feel reasonably confident in saying this will be one of the best albums of 2013.
Check out our Comedy Central CD and DVD page
Other Anthony Jeselnik Reviews
Shakespeare: Excellent but only available as download MP3.
Shakespeare - Reviewed by Joe Schneider: Jeselnik could be the next big thing to happen to American stand-up comedy.
Caligula : bound to be one of the best of 2013.