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by Garon Cockrell
Anthony Jeselnik: “Caligula” (2013) DVD Review
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By Garon Cockrell
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Jan. 15, 2013 12:01 a.m.

Anthony Jeselnik is known for covering topics that are
considered taboo, so my expectations were rather high for his new comedy
special, Caligula. And while a lot of
it is quite funny, there is really nothing offensive about his material. Yes,
he jokes about rape, suicide, the Holocaust and child abuse. But he also calls
attention to the fact that he’s doing it, which really removes any edge the comedy
might have had. It’s like a warning. If you acknowledge beforehand that
something might be offensive, it sort of ceases to be offensive. But the
material is good. He should let it stand
on its own. Give people the chance to be offended.
For example, he does a rape joke at the beginning, then
says, “I feel like it’s very important –
very important – to open up my show with a rape joke… Just to see what kind of
crowd I’m dealing with here.” And he says he’s going to do two more rape
jokes, which serves as a warning.
And at the end he says to the audience that he’s going to
tell them a series of jokes that are going to get increasingly offensive. This is the first one: “They say it’s
easy to make fun of retarded people. But let me tell you guys something – it is
not. You have really got to explain it to them.” That’s great, but he keeps
referring to his jokes as jokes, which breaks up the flow. I wish he’d dispense
with that, and just tell the jokes.
He has a lot of great short bits, like “I spent the past two years looking for my
ex-girlfriend’s killer… But no one will do it.” And: “I
think my friend Jeff is gay. I don’t know, I’m so bad with names.” The
audience laughs, leading him to say, “Smart
crowd,” which actually seems a bit arrogant. He lets the audience know he’s
a good person, that he would never hit a woman “even if she had a knife or…a stutter.”
I love this: “My
mom is crazy. Her entire house is filled with nothing but pictures of Princess
Diana…and they’re all from right after the accident. Most of them she drew.”
And I dig his bit about golden showers. His girlfriend tells him she wants him
to pee on her, and he says, “Now I have
never thought about peeing on a woman in my entire life. Never even imagined it
before…But then I got the green light… And apparently it’s my thing.” That’s
He seems to take a lot of long pauses, as if he’s
enjoying the suspense of his performance. It’s a bit weird. Sometimes with his pauses and inflections he
reminds me of Christopher Walken. And sometimes I know right where his jokes
are going long before he gets there (because of the pauses). Like his bit about
the priest in the airport bar. I had time to figure out the punch line and say
it before he did.
He interacts a bit with audience members. “What do you do when you’re not being so
fucking boring? Take your time – I’m really funny.” He is really funny, but
he’s not as edgy as I’d hoped. And though he interacts with the audience, he
does not come across as the least bit affable or amiable. There is definitely a
distance between performer and audience.
By the way, the title of this
DVD comes from a bit about his ex-girlfriend taking those stupid quizzes in
women’s magazines. She asked him if he could have lunch with any one person,
living or dead, who would it be? To which he responded, “I don’t know…Caligula.”
Bonus Features
The DVD includes three bonus features, all of which are
Anthony Jeselnik’s performances at roasts. The first is at the roast of Donald
Trump. Most of this nine-minute segment, however, is him poking fun at the
other folks there, rather than Trump. The second roast (which is approximately
six and a half minutes) is of Charlie Sheen, and again, several minutes are
spent on the other folks. The third is a roast of Roseanne Barr, and this is
probably the funniest one. Anthony begins, “When
Comedy Central first asked me to be here tonight, I told them to suck my dick.
And now I’m here.” About Roseanne being difficult on the set of her show,
he says, “The entire cast and crew always
had to walk on egg shells around you, because you just could not stop eating
eggs.” Interestingly, he ends all three with basically the same line: “Despite everything I’ve just said, you’re a
good sport for being here. Thank you for letting me be here too.”
Caligula was
released on January 15, 2013 on DVD and CD. A somewhat shorter (and censored)
version aired on Comedy Central on January 13, 2013.

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