Arts & Culture » Arts Stories & Interviews

Jim Jefferies attempts to find a balance between funny and wrong



"There's a formula in standup comedy. The more offensive the joke, the funnier it has to be. It's simple math," or so Jim Jefferies told in September of 2014. The Australian comic has capitalized on that formula in a big way ever since his first HBO special, I Swear to God, introduced him to an American audience in 2009.

Jefferies specializes in story-based comedy, whether it's about the time he went into a bathroom stall to snort some cocaine with a stranger only to realize that there had been some miscommunication about what sexual favors were expected in return or about the time he took his handicapped childhood friend to a whorehouse – which became the basis of his short-lived FX series, Legit (still available to watch on Netflix and Amazon Prime).

Becoming a father in 2012 hasn't inspired Jefferies to tone down his unapologetically raunchy sense of humor. In his most recent Netflix-exclusive special, Bare, Jefferies skewers cultural expectations of what's acceptable when speaking of children of different genders, the trouble with casting for a handicapped role and the differences between Australian and American approaches to gun control.

If Jefferies has a weak spot, however, it's gender relations. Early on in Bare, Jefferies states, "A lot of things that I say tonight will be jokes that I don't actually mean, but this is something I'm really passionate about: Women do not deserve to earn as much money as men in the workplace." Whether this is just part of the offensive-to-funny ratio formula or not is up to interpretation, but judging from the Boston audience's reaction, there are some people out there who take the subsequent misogynist rant a bit too seriously.

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