Jim Jefferies
Fully Functional

Rebellious and debauched, comedian Jim Jefferies tells Marissa Burgess about putting his wild side on hold to face paternal responsibilities

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In some quarters Aussie Jim Jefferies is perceived as a swaggering comic with rock star tendencies involving stories of debunking religion, drinking, taking drugs and having fun with the opposite sex. In his latest show, Fully Functional, which has just completed a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, there’s a 15-minute story that begins just like a rock ‘n’ roll tale but soon takes a different turn.

“When I tell the threesome story, I like the fact that I’m a little bit of a hero at the beginning but I’m a fat slob at the end,” laughs Jefferies.

Jefferies grew up in Sydney where, in what now seems like the most unlikely of vocations for him, he trained to be an opera singer. Then when he turned to stand-up he came over to England and worked the comedy circuit – living in Manchester for a few years. These days, after garnering some success in the States, he lives in the Hollywood hills. Though considered cool by much of his fan base, part of him is still the kid at school who didn’t really fit in.

“I could reel off a list of comics – Glenn Wool, Steve Hughes, JJ Whitehead, Ed Byrne – these guys we’re seeing as the cool guys, I’ve spoken to all those blokes and none of them were cool at school. We weren’t the nerds but we were definitely the misfits. And I feel that some of the nerdier fans almost look at us like ‘the boys’ of the circuit. But if they knew how sh*tty my childhood was I don’t think they’d ever put me in that bracket.”

What Jefferies combines to great effect are rock ‘n’ roll tales of debauchery coupled with an underbelly of vulnerability. Sometimes that sensitivity is a raw, emotional response to a situation but often it takes the form of a disarming honesty, a frankness that often can expose him as a bit pathetic.

“I think that’s possibly through necessity,” he proffers. “I’ve never been good at writing jokes. I do have the occasional good one, the occasional observation, but as for straight out joke jokes I’ve never been tremendous at writing them. It was always stories that had happened to me and stories that have happened where you don’t look like an idiot aren’t that funny.”

So does he consider it to be a cathartic experience then? “Of course it is,” he agrees nodding. “I thought that the other day, I don’t think there are many people on the planet who have said as much about themselves in public as I have.”

But life is about to change for Jefferies. He’s already cut back on the drinking but his girlfriend, actor Kate Luyben, is due to give birth to their first child in November. In addition his TV pilot Legit has been picked up and is being made into a full series. Is success and familial contentment likely to change Jefferies? After all this is a man who, in some of his most mesmerising moments on stage, lashes out with abandon.

“No, I mean obviously I’ll get some stories out of it but hopefully they’ll all be from the angle of a douchebag who doesn’t really know what he’s doing.

“I think about 30 per cent of it [the material] has been childhood stories and now I’m going to recreate them but with a different person and tell the stories vicariously through them. I’m just going to be the dad in that story.”

Though everything is coming together nicely for Jefferies, one thing he’s not likely to be getting any time soon is a dog. “My girlfriend’s told me I’m not responsible enough for a dog. This is my pregnant girlfriend. ‘If we get a dog you know you won’t be able to take care of it.’ ‘We’re still having this baby?’ All right then.”

Jim Jefferies Fully Functional, Civic Hall, Nantwich, 3 September, Manchester Opera House,
4 September, Victoria Hall, Stoke-on-Trent, 5 September, Mountford Hall, Liverpool, 8 September, City Varieties, Leeds, 9 September, Grand Opera House, York, 10 September

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Jim Jefferies
Fully Functional

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