Anthony Jeselnik: “Thoughts and Prayers” (Netflix)
Anthony Jeselnik’s Comedy Central series only lasted six months, but he remains unapologetic as his means (and his sometimes mean-spirited jokes) always justify the end goal: Making you laugh. Whether it’s in discomfort or in agreement, it’s all good by him. His audience here eats up his persona so quickly and eagerly they’re already laughing at his first set-up, merely mentioning he had seen a baby. What will happen to this baby? What horrible thing(s) will befall baby?!? Don’t worry. Baby be falling.
“See, that joke – that joke is a test. To see if you guys are cool or not. That thing about me and the baby in the car? That’s just me clearing my throat. That joke’s the test. If you guys laugh at that joke, whole show goes great. If you don’t laugh at that joke, whole show goes bad. And I have had shows go very, very bad. Doesn’t matter to me at all.”
With a slow swagger, and a slyer-than-sly grin that borders on smirktastic, all of Jeselnik’s jokes test how “cool” his audience is. Even more so now that he’s built up this persona so well that fans try to guess the awfulness of his punchlines in advance. So his jokes need another layer of misdirection.
Also: I'm writing comedy reviews for Decider now!