I became familiar with Australian comedian Jim Jefferies after a college roommate showed me his now infamous 15-minute-long diatribe on gun control. It was a sarcastic, evidence-laden lecture teasing Americans for our wanton adoration of firearms.
“I am all for your Second Amendment rights,” said Jefferies. “I think you should be able to have guns – it’s in your Constitution. What I am not for is bullshit arguments and lies. There is one argument and one argument alone for having guns: F&%k off – I like guns! It’s not the best argument, but it’s all you’ve got.”
The New Yorker praised his “brilliant, hilarious, and astonishingly complete discussion” of the gun control debacle. Even pro-gun commentator Dan Zimmerman admitted, “This is best summary of the gun control lobby’s arguments that I have ever heard.”
Material like that propelled Jeffries career forward, and he is now part of Comedy Central’s stellar late-night roster, sitting behind the desk of The Jim Jefferies Show. Jefferies quips about politics, creates outlandish stunts and uses a mashup of news clips to highlight the ridiculous, repetitive buzzwords in mainstream news reports. One hilarious montage showed multiple news sources calling the GOP health bill “secretive,” leading to Jefferies’ astute conclusion that the bill is akin to the self-help pseudo-scientific book, The Secret.
Watch a clip:
Like fellow Comedy Central headliner Trevor Noah, Jefferies delivers political satire in a way that doesn’t rely on mocking his targets, whether they’re Republican senators or Dutch citizens practicing a bizarre celebration that involves blackface:
He interviews his subjects candidly, asking simple questions that reveal their absurdity or startling ignorance, such as when he asked Australian senator and Celebrity Apprentice contestant Pauline Hanson for her opinion on racism and immigration and she declares that, “Islam is a disease. You should be vaccinated against it.”
Watch the clip:
And while comics like The Daily Show host Trevor Noah, who is a South African national, have set a precedent for newcomers like Jeffries to poke fun at American culture, it’s a bit more of a gamble in this heightened political atmosphere. Do Americans really want to hear about our flaws from a man with an accent?
According to reviews, yes. Jeffries’ show scores 8.1 out of 10 stars on IMDB, and three out of five on Common Sense Media. Critics are in favor of his cheeky humor and ability to level with an American audience.
The New York Times’ Mike Hale writes, “Mr. Jefferies may seem like he’s sneering at you or wondering at your dimness, but he never seems to be talking down to you.”
The fact that Jeffries doesn’t focus solely on American mishaps may have something to do with his acceptance among U.S. audiences: “The Jim Jefferies Show is an extension of his frequent call-outs of strange behavior both in America and abroad,” said IndieWire.
It may be Jefferies who sums his show’s appeal up most succinctly. He ends one episode (after trash-talking several world leaders who are cozying up to Trump) with a humble statement: “I’m Jim Jefferies, I think we can all do better.”
— jim jefferies (@jimjefferies) June 22, 2017
The Jim Jefferies Show is adding its own sardonic flavor to the late-night scene along with fellow Comedy Central cohorts. The President Show was recently renewed for a second season as viewers revel in Trump impersonator Anthony Atamanuik’s flawless rendition of our fake-tanned commander in chief. And The Daily Show With Trevor Noah is a political satire juggernaut, recently recording its most-watched quarter ever and launching correspondent Jordan Klepper into a Comedy Central late-night show of his own this fall.
World politics may seem to be in shambles, but things could improve if we shared Jeffries’ outlook on government, and life in general. We can all do better.