Jim Jefferies returns to Victoria on a high from TV success

ON STAGE

What: Jim Jefferies
Where: Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre, 1925 Blanshard St.
When: Saturday, Nov. 16, 8 p.m. (doors at 7)
Tickets: $39.50, $59.50 from the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre box office, selectyourtickets.com, or by phone from 250-220-7777

Jim Jefferies recently became a U.S. citizen, which means the outspoken Australian can now sling arrows without fear of consequences.

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Not that the popular standup comic and host of The Jim Jefferies Show ever worried about repercussions. “I feel fully American — I already hate other immigrants,” Jefferies said during a recent appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

“I had a Green Card for seven years and the only thing that’s different between being a citizen and having a Green Card is if you get caught with a gram of [cocaine] or some weed or you’re drunk-driving, you get sent out of the country.

“Now, I can do all those things. I don’t particularly want to do them, but it’s just nice to have options.”

It was announced this week that The Jim Jefferies Show will air its final episode on Nov. 19, bringing to a close his three-season run of comedy and politics on Comedy Central.

The show debuted in 2017, when Jefferies, a longtime attraction on the standup circuit, was just becoming better known in mainstream circles.

He leaves the show as one of the top draws in concerts, with several hit HBO standup specials to his name and a successful Night Talker Tour that brings him to Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre on Saturday.

Jefferies’ act is a blend of comedy and controversy that is rarer in 2019 than it was in 1999. His best-known standup routine is one about gun control from his 2014 Netflix special Bare, which pushed him into the limelight. What comedians can talk about has changed dramatically in the years since.

“Now you’re talking about things like people who are just denying climate change and the Iran deal going away and the Paris Agreement and the things that Trump’s doing and the hurricanes and the rape allegations against Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby,” Jefferies said in an interview at Hamptons.com.

“I guess you could say the jokes write themselves, but you have to be very careful which ones you put out there, because you can land yourself in a bit of hot water if you don’t deal with some of these topics fairly delicately.”

Now based in the comedy capital of Los Angeles, he has been forced to deal with the commercial side of comedy, which comes with its own parameters, many of which Jefferies is loath to accept. He learned to play more by the rules with help from his team at The Jim Jefferies Show, he told Hamptons.com.

“Even though it looks like on the show I’m not dealing with anything delicately, there is a lot of discussion in the writers’ room like: ‘Can we say this? Should we say this? Should we not mention this? Is it our duty to voice our opinion on this? Is it too preachy for us to even bring it up?’ I think it would probably be more enjoyable to be doing a late-night show when things were less controversial.”

Jefferies began a successful string of appearances in Victoria with his local debut at the Royal Theatre in 2014. He followed that with two sold-out performances at the Royal Theatre in 2015, followed by well-attended dates at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre in 2016 and 2017.

He returns to the Blanshard Street arena for the first time in two years this weekend with his profile at the highest point of his career. But longtime fans shouldn’t expect to see a different version of the man who once sent fans running to the exits in Victoria with his explicit routine.

Jefferies might be prone to working smarter these days, but not necessarily cleaner.

“First and foremost, I hope in my delivery and in nuance, if there is something really offensive or when you’re talking about horrendous subjects, you hope that people know that you’re joking,” he told Hamptons.com.

“And that’s the real trick of it all. And sometimes not everyone does. They think you’re a horrible, vile person, but you hope that people know you’re joking.”

mdevlin@timescolonist.com

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