Sometimes it really is Christmas in July when you’re working in Hollywood.
Such was the case last week when Jim Jefferies touched base with The Comic’s Comic after a day on the set of The Librarians, a new TNT series based on the film franchise that debuts later this year.
The Australian-born stand-up comedian and star of the recently cancelled FXX series Legit was playing Santa Claus for a guest-starring turn in an episode. Talk about going legit! “I wasn’t the actual Santa Claus,” Jefferies is quick to clarify. “I was a guy in a Santa suit.”
“It was just a one-day acting job. Rebecca Romijn and Bruce Campbell were in it, so it sounded good,” he added. “Don’t expect me to be a regular Santa Claus.” Did you change your accent, though? “I did an English accent, yeah,” he said. “I know it was better than Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, though. That’s my benchmark.”
When he’s not on set somewhere, you can find Jim Jefferies back on the stand-up grind, performing this summer both as a headliner in theater gigs (tonight at Lincoln Theater in Washington, D.C., then two shows Saturday at Comix at Foxwoods) for his own “Day Streaming” tour, and as one of many in the second annual Funny or Die Oddball Festival Tour. He also has a brand-new stand-up special already recorded for Netflix, “Bare,” which will will begin streaming any time of day sometime in August.
“I got a few auditions,” Jefferies told The Comic’s Comic. “I’m trying to get back on the TV, to be honest with you. I was very upset when Legit was cancelled, obviously. Now I’m trying to get over that. Find out what else I can do…it’s very hard when you’re doing a project that you really enjoyed and the people around you enjoyed.” Other TV and film projects aren’t always so enjoyable. “Not everyone gets along, and everyone’s sitting around reading books.”
With Yahoo! recently saving Community from the clutches of NBC cancellation, did you consider mounting a “Save Legit” campaign to find an online taker?
“I did give it a try,” he said. “The others who you’re speaking of, Arrested Development or Community, were big network shows. Find me the cable TV show that was saved! It’s a tricky situation. Those companies, Netflix and Yahoo, can see those shows had 8 million viewers. They were cancelled because they didn’t have 9 million viewers My show had half a million viewers and was cancelled because it didn’t have 600,000. You see the difference?”
What about Kickstarter? That’s the other trendy thing for people to do, crowd-source their way back into business.
“I don’t know why I don’t just ask everyone for eight million dollars?!” Jefferies joked.
Seriously, though: “I’m not super keen on getting the rest of the world to pay for something.”
Plus he already has reconciled with the situation, comparing his professional breakup to a personal one. “Sooner or later, it doesn’t matter how much you want her, she doesn’t want you. That’s how I look at Legit,” he said.
“The thing that’s upsetting is that the show wasn’t cancelled because it wasn’t good,” he continued. “Even my comedy specials. My comedy specials are so subjective that when they come out…I get a lot of flack. This one is shit. Or he’s a mysoginst. What have you. Legit, I didn’t receive that.”
“I wonder if a few years from now there will be people watching it on Netflix who say I just discovered your show. It’s great. When does season two come out? Well, I have good news and bad news…”
If there is additional bad news about not having a third season of Legit, Jefferies said it’s because he didn’t get to finish the overall story.
“I would have looked at the ending to be different,” he said. “For me, it had to end eventually with Billy dying. It had to bookend. Helping Billy live and helping Billy die. Who knows what would happen with the other characters.”
So now he’s on to the next TV series, whatever that may be. He does have one idea already.
“I’ve got a great idea for a sitcom but I can’t tell you about it because I’m trying to sell it,” he said. “I could sit down and wtrite an episode of Legit in a day. It’s hard when you have something so easy sitting in front of you, to sit down and do this harder thing.”
Jefferies also tries to avoid worrying about what everyone else is doing, whether it’s a different show picked up by FX or FXX this summer, or another stand-up comedian. “I’m of the opinion of watching other people isn’t good,” he said. “Jealousy and bitterness can take over. I just worry about what I’m up to.”
That said, he will be rejoining several A-list comedians and aspiring stand-up stars again this summer for the Oddball tour, which includes a rotating lineup with the likes of Louis CK, Sarah Silverman, Aziz Ansari, Jim Gaffigan, Amy Schumer, Bill Burr, Jefferies and many more. “I’m not doing a load of the dates. I’m doing about five,” he said. “For me, and other comics probably won’t say that, I like testing myself against the best. If you’re going into a theater and people are coming just to see you, you can get lost in the standing ovations. You can lost in the I-might-be-the-greatest-comedian-on-Earth. Well, obviously not. But, can I compete with the greatest comedians on Earth? If I go on after one of them…hopefully I make a few of them wonder.”
Jefferies has a new special coming out in August on Netflix called “Bare,” but his current stand-up tour is called “Day Streaming.” “That’s like when you sit around and you find yourself losing five hours masturbating and looking at porn online,” he explained of the latter.
As for BARE: “I’m very happy with this special. I think it’s my best one. I always think Alcoholocaust is my best. Other people seem to think it’s I Swear to God. But my best jokes are in Fully Functional.”
Combativeness changed at all?
Not really! My opening 15 mintues is about having a child which is well-trod material… not going to confuse me with Ray Romano, not that there’s antyning wrong with that.
I always find it weird that if you speak out against America youre a freedom hater.
What makes this special so, well, special?
“It’s not much religion. Maybe no religion in this one,” compared to a major theme underlying previous works. He says he talks about gun control and sex in ways “that deals with both sides” of the debates. “In this special especially, I get to do something that, when you first do a special, I Swear to God was the best comedy bits I’d ever done until then. Then I got out of comedy clubs and did Alcoholocaust …the MS story…half-hour routine on that…Fully Functional was me being sober onstage. But I think now my next special is like I Swear to God, which is all my best bits from clubs, but with all my best bits from being a theater comic, which is a different sort of craft, you are playing to your fans but you can let things breathe a little more. Draw things out. have callbacks that go back an hour. I feel this show in particular is more one piece.”
Has your natural combativeness changed or softened at all, what with the TV series and fatherhood?
“Not really!” he said. “My opening 15 minutes is about having a child which is well-trod material…but you are not going to confuse me with Ray Romano. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”