The Comedian Who Would Sing Opera: Jim Jefferies Interview

Jim Jefferies Jim Jefferies

Guess who is in town this year for Just For Laughs? Yep, Jim Jefferies is! This Australian comedian is famous for his brutally honest comedy stand up shows about subjects most tend to avoid. You may also know him as the guy who got punched in the head for some of his material.

As this incident suggests you should have a pretty good idea of his level of honesty. No censorship and no toleration for bullshit! As you might have already guessed you will either love him or hate him but he will definitely make you feel something.

With 14 years in stand up comedy, Jefferies has performed at numerous festivals including British shows such as “Never Mind the Buzzcocks” and “8 Out of 10 Cats”. He won over the audience in both US and Canada by doing stand up on HBO and at Just For Laughs; his comedy series Legit, in which he stars, premiered on 17 January 2013 on FX.

This year he is selling out faster than ever for his show on July 25th at Maison Symphonique. “This is by far the best show I have done in the past 5 years and I have recorded 4 – so it must be good,” he says. “Come along, check it out and see if I am wrong of right.”

As with any good cognac, you taste it at the tip of your tongue for sweetness, the back for bitterness and at the sides for saltiness and sourness, Jim Jefferies comedy is someone who creates multiple sensations. He goes over a variety of subjects that make you laugh your butt off and at times gets you thinking of the bigger picture that he is uncovering in his rough yet so straight to the point stand-up shows.

Jim Jefferies

Jim Jefferies

As for this year’s show, he is currently finalizing some material for his newest special. “I might even sing some opera in the middle of the show”, he laughs. You would expect the guy with such provocative and down dirty material to be intimidating in an interview, however this guy is full of surprises. Apart from being a super nice guy who hasn’t even said the “F” word once during the interview, Jefferies started his career in the Music University in Australia as an opera Singer but dropped out after he realized he is better at comedy than he is at singing. And we are sure glad he did!

If you are familiar with George Carlin, his favourite comedian, you will know what to expect from Jim Jefferies. This year’s special will include some inside Hollywood stories, anecdotes from the parties he attended, gun control jokes, political discussions and of course sex jokes to spice things up.

When we started the interview he proudly mentioned that his upcoming special is completely new and it is going to be super funny, so if you have seen his other shows, you won’t hear the same jokes in this one. “But if you are bringing someone along to the show you better make them watch a couple of my videos on YouTube just so they know what to expect,” he says.

Although the tickets are going super fast there are a couple left so you better get one fast before it is too late!

I already got my ticket so I hope to see you open minded people in the audience! If you are interested in getting to know Jim Jefferies a little better (and I think you should because he is an awesome guy) read on for our full interview below.


jim jefferies

Victoria Shinkaruk (VS) : Hello? Mr. Jim Jefferies?

Jim Jefferies (JJ): Yeah…

VS: Are you excited about your upcoming show?

JJ: This year it is a big concert hall. The first time I went was one of those package shows with a lot of other comics, the Nasty Show in Chicago and the Nasty Show in St Catherine’s Theatre. It was a small theatre and now I am going to be in a big concert hall so it’s definitely an odd progression.

VS: Well I am going to be there to see you perform this Friday – so very excited about that!

JJ: Awesome!

VS: So I wanted to ask you about something I read in an article from a couple of years ago. The article mentioned that you trained to become an opera singer, is that true?

JJ: That is correct yes. I might be singing some opera during the concert! (laughs)

VS: (laughs) Well that would be quiet interesting! So, tell me how does one go from a career in opera to becoming an internationally-known comedian?

JJ: Well for me, I always wanted to be a comedian. The reason I got to opera singing is that I got a scholarship to study music at University, which was paid for by the government. So I decided that I better go to college and study music and it was something that made my parents happy that I was studying classical art. They were very strict parents.

I loved comedy since I was a little kid, and while I was at university I started doing stand up shows. There was one bar that did a stand up show on Wednesday so I would go there every night and occasionally I would get on. Once I realized that I was good at it I quit college and left although I had six months left. I dropped out of college. I went to England. I could have done the last six months but I realized that I was better at standup comedy than I was at singing opera.
I was certain I wasn’t going to make any money in opera singing and even if I wasn’t going to make any money at comedy either I realized I was better off choosing this path anyway.

My parents were super angry at what happened and now I think they are OK with it.

VS: Well I am glad you did it.

JJ: My best friend in Australia is still an opera singer and I watch him sing in an opera whenever I am in Australia.

VS: So you probably heard this a number of times, but could you tell me about that stage incident?

JJ: He was just a drunk who wasn’t enjoying the show and I got punched in the head, so he came up and punched me in the head (smiles).
In the end it got him in to the prison cell at the end of the night and it turned out to be good publicity for me.

VS: So does it concern you that people react this way or does it rather compliment you that you are able to invoke hate or love and nothing in the middle with your material?

JJ: I did find it encouraging; I do like that you get one way of the other. I would hate if someone left my show going ”bleah”, you know? I like to have a strong reaction to things I am saying so yeah, I have been appreciative of this incident.

VS: So tell me, did you ever find yourself in front of audience that has no reaction whatsoever?

JJ: Yeah…That happens more often than you think you know, that happens a few times a year. The thing to do is, just try to change directions. I don’t want people to leave the show being upset. So if I am trying to do a new joke, and sometimes I will talk about things like gun control or hostile massacre and I notice people being upset I will change the direction.

I want to make people think, and I don’t want to come across like I am egotistical or that I want to change people’s thoughts. I don’t believe that as a comic I can convert anyone’s opinion. I think I can maybe make someone look in one direction or the other but I can’t make a religious person stop believing in God.

VS: I see. I would say that George Carlin was similar in a way that he attempted to make people think about taboo subjects. Who would you say is your favourite comic?

JJ: George Carlin is my favorite comedian. I’ve been a comedian for 14 years but I’ve never watched George Carlin until about 10 years ago. When I started doing comedy I never even knew about George Carlin he was more of an American thing. Back then I was more into Richard Pryor, but I think George Carlin is the best comic that ever lived.

VS: George Carlin is one of my favourite as well. My next question is also based on something I read about your international popularity, and correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that it used to upset you that your homeland was less welcoming than your international audience, is this still correct?

JJ: Oh that has changed! Now I do really well in Australia! Last time I went to Australia I sold more tickets than anywhere else in the world. I used to do the Australian show and I was the least known comedian of all, and now, well I sold 30,000 tickets in Australia in 3 weeks!

VS: Wow! So I guess you are satisfied?

JJ: (laughs) Yeah I am happy! I can’t tell you the moment when it changed but I guess at some point people just started watching me on the internet more and started sending more links to more people. I have no complaints with Australia.

VS: I am assuming your parents are no longer angry with you leaving the opera?

JJ: (Laughs) Yeah exactly, my parents come and watch the shows. My dad brings his friends and they come along.

VS: Awesome! My last question is about the up-coming show. What should we expect? I mean obviously it won’t be about rainbows and flowers, so could you tell me a bit about it?

JJ: Well it all depends about how I feel that day you know. I have a new special coming up so there will be a lot of jokes from that special.
And if you have seen me before you haven’t seen any of these jokes. There will be a few inside Hollywood stories, there will be some crazy stories about the parties I went to, obviously some sex jokes, there is going to be some political commentary and I am going to do some stuff on gun control. So I wouldn’t say the show has a theme but a wide range of topics.

Most of all I want people to come along and know it is going to be really funny. I think this new show is possibly the best show I’ve ever done.

I am actually editing the new special right now and I think it’s by far the best special I’ve done in the last 5 years! And I’ve recorded four in the last five years and this one is the best so come along check it out see if I’m right or wrong (laughs)

Jim Jefferies appears as part of Just For Laughs on July 25 at Maison Symphonique (1600 St. Urbain) 9:30 p.m. You can enter our giveaway for a pair of tickets to see the show HERE.