"The Jeselnik Offensive," which is now in its second season, has already gotten off to a killer start with guests like Jim Norton and Amy Schumer. Jeselnik looks to improve the show using lessons from his freshman season, and with phenomenal upcoming guest stars like Joan Rivers and Dave Attell, Anthony knows that he's on to bigger and better things.
Anthony sat down to chat about the evolution of the show, his hilarious guest stars, and his work on the Comedy Central roasts.
This is the second season of "The Jeselnik Offensive" on Comedy Central. How do you think the show has evolved?
I think it has evolved a lot actually. I get more comfortable as a performer. You look at a show like ours, it is very much like a late-night show. Conan O'Brien famously needed two years to get comfortable and get good at it.
We had 10 episodes last season. Just by being on the air longer, I am more comfortable. The show is better. I think we got a lot of stuff out of our system in Season 1. Now we have to be more creative and reach out there and go a little bit further than we did with things in Season 1. We got to fill more time.
Were there things that you made note of from Season 1 that you wanted to change or improve on for the current season?
It is funny; I kept telling myself that I was going to watch all of the episodes to get myself ready for Season 2. I cannot watch myself on tape. I can't. It drives me crazy because I get better all the time. Even if I do a stand-up set, I can watch it maybe that night. Then the next day, I am over it, because I feel like I am just evolving.
And so I see all the mistakes. I just went with the feeling of how I felt with doing the episodes and remembering what I did. You just move forward. Once you do something, you are not even thinking about it. Let's say we do a bit about cancer. Moving forward, I know that it is not a possibility anymore. So I am thinking about the next thing. So things just kind of evolve more than just studying something to make it better.
You have the segment "Defending Your Tweet" on the show. Who can we expect to see in that segment this season?
We have great guests coming up. This Tuesday we got Kumail Nanjiani and David Koechner, who are awesome. David has got a great tweet and Kumail has got a hilarious one. Coming up we got Adam Pally and Casey Wilson from "Happy Endings," who are great.
One of my favorite episodes coming up is Dave Attell and Joan Rivers. Joan Rivers is like a dream guest. Attell, too. To have them together is amazing. Coming up we got Eric Andre and T.J. Miller on the same episode, which is going to be insane. Marc Maron and Pete Holmes, who are kind of rivals. So to get those guys together will be fun. Our final episode is Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, who are two of the funniest people in the business. We have a great season of guests.
Who are you most looking forward to working with this season?
It has got to be Joan Rivers. She is a legend. I love her. I got to meet her earlier this year doing her show. She has a show on YouTube called "In Bed with Joan." We got to meet and just hit it off. She is just a legend and can be so offensive in the funniest way. I cannot wait to see how she sinks her teeth into my show. That's going to be legendary.
Do you prefer doing the show over touring?
No, not at all. I love the show -- don't get me wrong -- but I have been a comedian for 11 years and things just keep on getting better. I have done a few specials now and an album. Now with the show, I have been able to tour theaters as opposed to playing comedy clubs or bars.
Now I have been playing for a 1,000 people at a time, and that is only because of the show. So I like having both, but I don't have a preference between the two. One feeds the other. Stand-up is my first love.
I know that you were a writer for a few late-night shows. Did your experience on those shows inspire you to have a show of your own?
Oh, 100 percent. It was never a dream of mine to have my own show. I just wanted to be a writer on a show. I got to be a writer on Jimmy Fallon, and I immediately realized that I wanted his job. I want to be the guy that says yes and no.
When you are the star of the show and the main guy, what you say goes. You are the final word. I thought that it seemed fun, and I could get away with what I thought is funny. That's the only reason that I am doing this now.
There are critics out there who think that your brand of comedy goes too far. Does Comedy Central ever pull the plug on your jokes or bits?
I got pretty much full reign. There has only been a couple times where they have said that you can't do this. Usually it is a legal thing. It is never like it is too far. It just has to be funny enough to justify going there. That is their concern. It is my concern, too. I am not out there just for the sake of being offensive. It has got to be a funny show.
I love your work for the Comedy Central roasts. Do you prepare for those differently than your stand-up routine?
A little bit. For stand-up I am trying to write the best jokes I can. Roasts are different because you are only telling those jokes once. It is for a very specific time. You have to really hit people in the right way. You got to make a joke about something that everyone knows about, but you don't want everyone else to have the same joke. It has got to be unique.
I always found that I over-prepare for roasts. I always think that I am not going to be mean enough or someone else will have my joke. I'm sitting there and waiting my turn watching people go up. I have had the same moment of clarity in every roast that I have done. I am like I am way meaner than everyone else here. I'm thrilled to do it, but I am always wondering if I am coming off soft.
My manager will tell me, "Anthony have you read your jokes? You are not going to come off soft. Don't worry about that."
Out of the roasts that you have done, do you have a favorite?
Donald Trump, for sure. Donald Trump was my favorite because it was my first. No one knew who I was. So it was like a huge surprise. Trump was my favorite target because he was this rich, famous guy that you would never feel bad for him no matter what you said.
(Charlie) Sheen was going through some stuff. Roseanne (Barr), I don't want to bad mouth her, but she wasn't a TV star at that time, so it wasn't like she was this unstoppable target. Trump was my favorite by far.
"The Jeselnik Offensive" airs Tuesdays at 10:30 PM on Comedy Central.
Check out stills from the "Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump":
- Arts & Entertainment
- Comedy Central
- Joan Rivers
- Anthony Jeselnik
- Dave Attell