The last time I hung out with Jim Jefferies, we were not only in another country, but also in Doug Stanhope’s hotel room, before eventually taking the party to the hotel’s outdoor terrace as the sun rose over the French-Canadian skyline of Montreal.
Jefferies was in full-blown “Alcoholocaust” mode then. And not just because that was his one-man show that summer at Montreal’s Just For Laughs.
That was two summers and one stand-up special ago. Jefferies since has sobered up. Well, mostly sobered. Call him “Fully Functional” — that’s the title of his new stand-up special that debuts tonight on EPIX. He’s also going Legit in a new FX sitcom he created and stars in, bowing January 2013. Any day now, too, Jefferies will add the title of father to his lifetime resume.
Not that any of those personal or professional changes in his life have slowed down his comedy. Check out this clip in which Jefferies talks about having sex with an ex-girlfriend of Olympic swimming champ Michael Phelps:
Jefferies spoke to The Comic’s Comic during a break from filming Legit yesterday to talk about the new special and where his life and career is at now. “I’m good. I was just in a stunt car. Driving over people’s lawns and crashing into plastic furniture,” he said. They’re coming up on the half-way mark of production on the first 13-episode season for FX. “We’ve recorded five episodes and we’ve edited about three. I’m very happy with how they’re looking.”
Fully functional. Legit. Coming out of a show called “Alcoholocaust,” you’d think Jefferies had done gone and grown up and found maturity. “I never thought of it like that, actually,” he said. For Legit: “When we came up with that title, there’s already Louie, there’s already Seinfeld…there’s already Whitney. What am I going to call it, Jim?” No. Instead, the title fits the central premise of Jefferies’ character. “Quintessentialy, I’m trying to do the right thing. Like in all these stories, I’m trying to do the right thing, but I’m a fucking idiot.” It was important, Jefferies said, for his character to at least try to better himself. “I didn’t want a storyline that was just a bloke who was a Charlie Sheen character who was just a douchebag all the time.”
As for the new EPIX special, he added: “Fully Functional, only reason it was called that, it was the only time I’ve done a TV performance when I wasn’t drunk.”
Whoa. Do we need to stage an intervention? Was the pre-show drinking by design? Because of nerves? Some other reason? “Initially it was from nerves. Then I had it in my head, that maybe people expected it form me. Stupid shit like that. Then I’d be onstage, I’d have some great shows drunk and some shows where I didn’t know what I had said,” he recalled. Jefferies said that happened during and after filming Alcoholocaust, when he blacked out. “I was surprised that it turned out well, but I was a little ashamed of myself that I didn’t remember it.” Eventually, he thought, “what’s the point in killing myself five nights a week.” Jefferies acknowledges his drinking has resulted in problems with his liver, so he stopped drinking booze for eight months to improve his health. “Now I get drunk three or four times a month, instead of 25 days a month.”
Becoming a father is coincidental to his relative sobriety.
“That kicks into gear Nov. 6,” he said of his baby boy’s due date. “It’s scary and exciting and all those things, you know. And I’m more excited than I am scared. I just dont know. I think I’ve got all the equipment. I’m feeling very useful about the human race. People say, ‘Your heart’s going to be so big and all that stuff. I’m loking forward to when he’s old enough to walk around and talk…I just want it out so me and my girlfriend can have a different conversation.” That conversation tends to prompt repeated responses out of him. “You’re not fat. I’m sure he’s going to be fine.”
At least Jefferies doesn’t have to worry about those conversations when he sits down with comedian Eddie Ifft for their podcast, Talkin’ Shit.
No. Jefferies said his talks with other comedians are odd for a different reason, particularly when it comes to parenthood. “Comedians have this thing now,” he said. “I’m 35 years old. I’m having a kid. They’re asking, ‘What are you going to do?’ Like we’re teen-agers. What am I? Going to get rid of it? I’m going to keep it! Feed it and clean it.”
Will parenthood and relative sobriety change the normally ruthless offensiveness that Jefferies relishes in onstage in his stand-up? “It already has changed a little bit. I don’t think it’s going to be less aggressive,” he said. “As for, will there be as many one-night stand stories? Of course not. Will I still have the same talk on religion? Yes. Will I still get in as many scrapes? Maybe not as many. But just because I have a kid doesn’t mean I’m going to become Ray Romano.”
At the same time, though, Jefferies expects and even hopes that “a lot of my fanbase is in the same stage of life as I am, and they’re going through some of the same things.”
Here’s a clip from Fully Functional, in which Jefferies describes how pepper and orgasms are related.
He wound up debuting Fully Functional via EPIX, in part, by watching how they and other traditional and non-traditional networks were approaching stand-up comedy. “I made this special myself,” he said. “Just wanted to try to sell it to a network. I was very happy with what they did with Jim Norton’s special and promotion. HBO didn’t look like they were dong too many comedy specials. I shopped it around.”
In early 2013, he’ll then put out a DVD version with 20 additional minutes of material. “My theory is, if you offer a little more, then people will buy the DVD and watch it on TV,” he said. “I’ll probably do an audio commentary. The fact is, me doing some stupid sketch (behind-the-scenes) isn’t going to be as good as me saying something live. So what’s the point? I know for Legit, we already have reels and reels of bloopers.”
Once Fully Functional is publicly released, and Legit is wrapped for season, it’s back to the joke-writing chalkboard for Jefferies. “Once there’s a DVD, I don’t do the jokes again,” he said. I’m down to about 30 minutes now. I have to go out and build a new hour, have an hour-and-a-half material to go tour. Hopefully by March.”
Jefferies doesn’t enjoy much in the way of down-time after a new special hits the marketplace. He’s no athlete off playing golf and relaxing once the regular season and playoffs are over. “I don’t vacation very much. If I do take time off, it’s me staying at home,” he said. “Touring, I travel so much. When the baby’s born, I have 18 days off. I’ll sit around at home and wipe the kid’s ass. It’s going to be great. They say you’re not going to sleep. Before, I didn’t get much sleep anyhow because of all the drugs I was taking…
“Now I’m going to wake up with a clear mind. I can handle this. I think a lot of people go on and say you don’t know how hard it’s going to be. Well, then why do you have fucking five of them?” he wonders. Does Jefferies plan on having five kids himself? “I haven’t thought too much about that. I didn’t think too much about this one.”
This clip certainly bears that out.
Jim Jefferies, “Fully Functional,” premieres tonight on EPIX.
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