• Anthony Jeselnik: Shakespeare

    Anthony JeselnikAnthony Jeselnik writes great jokes– plain and simple. He’s a master of the one-two punch. Now, he’s not the only game in town when it comes to slinging one liners, but he’s one of the best, and here’s why: Jeselnik’s stand-up embodies one of the most distinct, specific, unflinching comic personas on the scene today. And his Comedy Central album, Shakespeare proves this endlessly.

    The Pittsburgh native and former Late Night With Jimmy Fallon writer has been on the rise for the last five years, becoming a favorite of both the indie and club comedy circuits. This debut album, available digitally, is a collection of masterfully crafted jokes strung together by his well-honed, nearly-sociopathic self-assured bravado.

    On Shakespeare Jeselnik reflects, “This chick is trying to get me fired, because she claims I’ve been giving her ‘inappropriate massages’ in the office. Well I said good luck with that, sweetheart. I don’t even work here.”

    When you hear the bit, you think crack up and think, “hey, that is a great joke.” A few seconds later, Jeselnik says those exact words on the album. Commenting on his own joke gets almost as big a laugh as the joke itself. And that’s on purpose. You see, this comedian is all about verbal economy; there’s no idle chit-chat on this album. Even his segues and taglines are well-crafted jokes.

    The downside of listening to a comedian that’s “jokey” (I hate that term too) is that you miss out on hearing a distinct voice. It can become more about ending a joke with the right twist than getting across the comedian’s personal perspective. Fortunately, Jeselnik avoids this. The jokes get you in the door, but the thing that keeps you engaged from start to finish is the fact that he never breaks character. Or is it even a character? It’s impossible to tell whether he’s being ironic, and that’s part of what makes him so fucking funny. Personally, I choose to believe he’s being ironic; it makes me feel less slimy about laughing so hard.


    If you’re wondering, the album’s odd title comes from the long bit — a rarity for this quick-joke pro — that makes up the album’s final track. He tells a story about a crowd at a show that couldn’t handle one of his especially tasteless jokes. No doubt, there’s probably a lot of people that would agree with that disgusted group of people; but Anthony Jeselnik doesn’t care. And, neither do I.

    To download Jeselnik’s album, just click the image below!

    Brendan McLaughlin

    Brendan is a comedian and writer based in Brooklyn, NY.

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