The Jeselnik Offensive: Tuesdays at 10:30 on Comedy Central.
As a TV critic, I normally feel like it’s my job to favor quality, intelligent television over the supposed crass dregs that “drag down” the legitimacy of the medium.
That being said, I laughed at The Jeselnik Offensive way too much to hate it.
The Jeselnik Offensive, starring comedian Anthony Jeselnik, is a subversion of the late night talk show format and built around the concept of trying to offend yours (and everyone else’s sensibilities) as much as possible. It opens with a monologue where Jeselnik shoots off a number of one-liners riffing on the news stories of the day, follows up with a couple of short comedy segments before hitting the real meat of the show, his panel.
The panel is a pretty novel concept, as instead of following the traditional late night format of interviewing one guest usually a celebrity at a time, Jeselnik instead brings on both celebrities (which will usually be name comedians, this week he had on Amy Schumer and Aziz Ansari) simultaneously in order to get their opinions while also trying to get under their skin.
The show shines most when Jeselnik has people to play off of, whether it’s telling jokes about cancer patients to cancer patients, riffing on an oncologist retorting “You’ve got cancer!” after asking her to soberly tells him he has cancer or working with his panel (which usually composes the last two segments of the show).
If there’s an area where the show seems a little weak, it’s in Jeselnik’s delivery, which often feels monotone and a touch robotic, often intruding upon the timing of some of the jokes. This however is a fairly minor quibble as the jokes themselves were often hilarious and sidesplitting (one in which he compared a Tibetan monk in self-immolation favorably to the dress of Food Network star Guy Fieri made me almost spit my drink at the computer).
The Final Verdict: Comedy Central has found the ideal show to pair with Tosh.0 in a frat-boy oriented comedy block. The jokes already are hitting their mark in a way that makes me believe the show has legs beyond the shock jock style humor that the show is sold on. It’s the short of show that I know as a critic I should probably loathe, but I can’t help but loving it, and if dark comedy is your sort of thing (which admittedly, as anyone whose ever dealt with me can attest, is most definitely mine), you could do a lot worse than giving this show a shot.
Next Time: I’m doing a liveblog for the Oscars similar to the one I did for the Grammys this Sunday night. The show airs on ABC this Sunday night starting at 7pm Eastern/6pm Central, so my first post will likely hit around 6:30 Eastern Time.