×

Anthony Jeselnik

10 Comics to Watch

The punchlines are always dark and invariably offensive to at least some consensus in the room.

Will his young nephew get to see his deceased gold fish in heaven? “I don’t pretend to know what happens to gold fish after they die, kid, but I do know one thing — there is no God.”

What about asking his “adoptive” parents why they picked him. Was he special? “Yes, Anthony, very special. Because of all the babies we had to choose from, you were the only one that was white.”

Whether the corresponding reaction tilts positive or negative, the Pittsburgh native stands tall in the pocket with an air of consciously inflected arrogance — he’ll never back down with an apology or soften the jagged edge.

“That was a great joke,” he’ll say. “Here’s another.”

Attitude is everything for the comic, who is working on his upcoming Comedy Central standup special, and is also set to host a “Talk Soup”-like series for MTV.

“I just have to keep going with it and be totally in charge,” he explains. “If I apologize, the whole thing falls apart. It gives people a reason not to like me.”

Of course, Jeselnik — whose last noncomedy gig was working as an accounting clerk on the set of HBO’s “Deadwood” — concedes a large percentage of the audience won’t end up digging him. “I’m a niche act,” he says. “I’m very specific.”

But at 29, the former Tulane lit major’s uncanny insight into comic nuance, coupled with his love for and aptitude with joke craft, has him developing a rep as a comic’s comic. Delicate comedy club dilatants may not go for his “specific” blend, but plenty of headliners do.

That polarizingly mean joke Sarah Silverman told at the Video Music Awards last year about Britney Spears accomplishing everything she ever will by 25? Well, Jeselnik was Silverman’s joke writer that night.

“I got into this wanting to be the best joke writer, period,” notes Jeselnik, who originally set out to be a novelist (he didn’t like the sitting indoors all day part). “I had no idea I’d be this good at it.”

POV

“As far as comedians go, I look better than most,” notes Jeselnik, belying a bit of sincerity to the supreme confidence he conveys in his act. The handsome, clean-cut looks combined with the chops have yielded a number of auditions. But Dane Cook this certainly is not — he

demurs on many of these gigs.

“They often need to cast a cute fun guy, but that’s not me,” Jeselnik says. “I don’t have to do a sitcom. I’m really enjoying performing and writing right now.”

More TV

  • Russell Tovey on His 'Arrogant and

    Russell Tovey on His 'Arrogant and Heroic' 'Years and Years' Character

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched the fourth episode of “Years and Years.” Russell T. Davies’ limited series “Years and Years” began with a birth, but it did not wait until the finale to book-end the story with a death. In the fourth episode of the multi-year spanning family drama, [...]

  • Hugh GRant photographed by Shayan Asgharnia

    Listen: Hugh Grant on Why He Would Kill Social Media if He Could

    Hugh Grant has been very active in U.K. press reform initiatives, but he knows the problem is even bigger than the media moguls who control the world’s major news outlets. That’s why Hacked Off, the campaign he’s involved with, is also expanding its scope to include the impact of online propaganda. “It’s particularly terrifying, the [...]

  • Veronica Mars -- "Heads You Lose"

    TV Review: 'Veronica Mars' Season 4

    “Veronica Mars” was a slap to the face of high school dramas when it premiered on UPN in 2004. Creator Rob Thomas took the well-worn “who killed the pretty teenager?” whodunnit and hard-boiled it, following a traumatized girl desperately trying to harden herself to the world’s harsh realities as she tried to solve the case. [...]

  • Norah O'Donnell Invokes Edward R. Murrow

    Norah O'Donnell Invokes Edward R. Murrow to Launch New Era at 'CBS Evening News'

    Though Norah O’Donnell had her first turn as anchor of “CBS Evening News” Monday night, she didn’t rely on any attention-grabbing tricks to carry the day. There was no flashy drawing board, no rattling off of unsettling, urgent headlines and no wrap-up of the day with a mawkish end segment calling up some element of [...]

  • Alton Brown

    TV News Roundup: Food Network Announces Premiere Date of 'Good Eats: The Return'

    In today’s roundup, Showtime releases a full-length trailer for “On Becoming a God in Central Florida” and Food Network announces the return of Alton Brown’s “Good Eats.”  DATES After taking a break from the series, Alton Brown will bring “Good Eats” back to Food Network’s primetime lineup with “Good Eats: The Return.”  In its first [...]

  • 9-1-1: Angela Bassett in the series

    Fox Sees Primetime, Sports Ad Gains As TV Upfront Wraps

    Fox Corporation is the latest to benefit from stronger-than-expected trends in TV ad spending, as the company notched strong gains in advertising commitments for its next cycle of programming – its first since selling off a large chunk of its media assets to Walt Disney. Ad demand was stronger than many executives anticipated, according to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content