Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Jim Jefferies (@jimjefferies), one of the most popular and respected comedians of his generation, entertaining audiences across the globe with his provocative, belief-challenging, and thought-provoking comedy.
Jim created and starred in the sitcom Legit and the Comedy Central late-night show The Jim Jefferies Show. He was honored as Stand-Up Comedian of the Year at the Just for Laughs Festival in summer 2019. At the end of 2019, he embarked on his new tour Oblivious, performing all around Europe and North America. He is currently working with NBC on a multi-camera pilot that he will star in from writer-producer Suzanne Martin, Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner’s Hazy Mills Productions, and Universal TV.
Jim’s new podcast I Don’t Know About That debuted on Tuesday, May 5th, and his ninth stand-up special will be released later this year on Netflix.
Transcripts may contain a few typos—with some episodes lasting 2+ hours, it can be difficult to catch minor errors.
DUE TO SOME HEADACHES IN THE PAST, PLEASE NOTE LEGAL CONDITIONS:
Tim Ferriss owns the copyright in and to all content in and transcripts of The Tim Ferriss Show podcast, with all rights reserved, as well as his right of publicity.
WHAT YOU’RE WELCOME TO DO: You are welcome to share the below transcript (up to 500 words but not more) in media articles (e.g., The New York Times, LA Times, The Guardian), on your personal website, in a non-commercial article or blog post (e.g., Medium), and/or on a personal social media account for non-commercial purposes, provided that you include attribution to “The Tim Ferriss Show” and link back to the tim.blog/podcast URL. For the sake of clarity, media outlets with advertising models are permitted to use excerpts from the transcript per the above.
WHAT IS NOT ALLOWED: No one is authorized to copy any portion of the podcast content or use Tim Ferriss’ name, image or likeness for any commercial purpose or use, including without limitation inclusion in any books, e-books, book summaries or synopses, or on a commercial website or social media site (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) that offers or promotes your or another’s products or services. For the sake of clarity, media outlets are permitted to use photos of Tim Ferriss from the media room on tim.blog or (obviously) license photos of Tim Ferriss from Getty Images, etc.
This interview was transcribed by Rev.com.
Tim Ferriss: Hello, boys and girls, ladies and germs. This is Tim Ferriss. Welcome to another episode of the Tim Ferriss show where it’s my job to interview people who are the best at what they do or certainly world-class performers and my guest today is Sydney native, we’re going to talk about Sydney, Jim Jefferies. Jim is one of the most popular and respected comedians of his generation, entertaining audiences, including yours truly around the globe with his provocative, belief challenging, and thought-provoking comedy. I would underscore the thought-provoking. He created and starred in the sitcom Legit, and the Comedy Central late-night show, The Jim Jefferies Show. Jim was honored as Standup Comedian of the Year at the Just for Laughs Festival in summer 2019. At the end of 2019, he embarked on his new tour, Oblivious, touring all around Europe and North America.
He is currently working with NBC on a multi-camera pilot, which he will star in from writer, producer, Suzanne Martin, Sean Hayes, and Todd Milliner’s Hazy Mills and Universal TV. His new podcast, I Don’t Know About That, debuts on Tuesday, May 5th. You should check it out. And his ninth — count them, nine, that’s incredible — standup special will be released later this year on Netflix. You can find him on all the socials at Jim Jefferies. That’s J-E-F-F-E-R-I-E-S and jimjefferies.com. Jim, welcome to the show.
Jim Jefferies: Thanks for having me, Tim. Tim Farriss. It’s a very good Australian name. I’m sure you get that a lot, right?
Tim Ferriss: I do. I do, actually.
Jim Jefferies: Like the guitarist from INXS. You obviously know that, right?
Tim Ferriss: That’s exactly right. Yep. I do get —
Jim Jefferies: I have a Tim Farriss story.
Tim Ferriss: Let’s hear it.
Jim Jefferies: I was performing at the Enmore Theater in Sydney and Tim Farriss came backstage at my gig and I was like, a kid from Australia, very excited to meet the guitarist from INXS. And I think he wrote most of the songs as well, you know. And when I saw him, his finger had fallen off. I think it was a boating accident or something and his finger had been ripped off. And I was like, “Wow.” So he goes, “Yeah, that’s the end of INXS. I can’t really play guitar anymore because I can’t play the chords because I don’t have this finger anymore.” And I went, “That’s a shame.” And so I said to him, “So it turns out your finger was more vital than Michael Hutchence.” Because INXS I think had three new singers and they kept going, but you lose Tim Farriss’ finger and they can’t play anymore.
Tim Ferriss: Well that is the first separate Tim Farriss anecdote that has ever happened in 400 plus episodes. So I’m thrilled. You know, I’ve had that name pop up before, the comparison, but I’ve never heard an actual story, so that’s —
Jim Jefferies: He’s a very nice man. It was the Farriss brothers. They all went to the — There was my school and then there was the school next to us and we had a rivalry with them. And our school was like, “Oh, we beat you in rugby.” And they’re like, “We had INXS.” And we were like, “Ah, you win.” Yeah. The most famous person to come from my school, I think, is me. You know what I mean? We haven’t got a great track record, so hello to all the people at St Ives High in Sydney. That’s where I went. But yeah, we had me, I think a couple of people who got bronze in the Olympics, and some relief pitcher for the Angels back in the ’90s.
Tim Ferriss: Well, let’s talk about Sydney. I’ve actually spent a fair amount of time there. I rented an apartment with a friend in Woolloomooloo and —
Jim Jefferies: Wow, that’s a bit of money. It’s where the prime minister lives.
Tim Ferriss: You know it was his idea. Although I will tell you the drawback and you can probably tell me what these birds are. You have the most beautiful, white birds that make the most God-awful sounds.
Jim Jefferies: Oh, Australian women. Yeah. I know what you’re talking about. Good looking, but the accent is fucking horrendous. Yeah, no, I’ve met them in me day, “Oh, yeah, I’m enjoying that. Keep doing it. Oh, yeah, that feels good.” Yeah, no, no, the worst accent for sex in the world is the Australian female. But what bird are you talking about?
Tim Ferriss: There’s some protected bird, I want to say. Maybe it’s a macaw. It’s this white bird. It has this plume on its head and it’s like —
Jim Jefferies: Oh, it’s a galah, oh, no, a cockatoo.
Tim Ferriss: Cockatoo, yes.
Jim Jefferies: A cockatoo. My father, he’s at one with animals for whatever reason. And he has this veranda. He opens up the doors and each day these two rainbow lorikeets come and visit my father and they fly in the window and they just sit on his shoulders.
Now, cockatoos look very exotic here in America, but they’re everywhere in Australia. They’re not endangered at all. They’re all over. My dad thinks they’re a pest, right? And he goes, there’s a cockatoo that bothers those two rainbow lorikeets. And my father keeps a slingshot and some rocks by the side of his chair and he shoots the cockatoos when they come over. And my American friend who cohosts my podcast with me, Forrest, was there. And he goes, “Does it kill them?” He goes, “Oh no, it just gives them a bit of a scare. If you hit one of them in the eye, you know — “
Why were you in Sydney for so long? Were you just backpacking or —
Tim Ferriss: I was there because one of my best friends is actually a Kiwi, was living in Sydney at the time and he invited me to head over and separately, the Australian edition of my first book was launching in Sydney and they wanted me to show up for a handful of media gigs and this, that, and the other thing and so I combined everything together and stayed for two, two and a half weeks. It probably only took me two, two-and-a-half minutes to get my pale scalp annihilated by your ozone-free sun. It’s —
Jim Jefferies: People don’t know that there’s two holes in the ozone layer and one’s over I think the North Pole, I think or it might be the South, and the other hole is over Australia and Australia — when you watch the weather here in America, it will go, “And the temperature is going to be this, the humidity is going to be this, and there’s some winds coming in from over here,” but you never get the daily UV rating. Around Australia and they go, “And it’s a hundred percent UV today,” and it’s like a hundred percent is like normal thing. So you don’t even really think about skin cancer that much in America. Like, it happens and you have to be wary of it. And if you have a mole, you get it checked and that sort of stuff. But skin cancer, if it’s not number one, it’s very close to the number one cancer in Australia. And so we had a slogan when I was a kid called slip, slop, slap, and it was slip on a shirt, slap on sunscreen, and slap on a hat. And that’s what you have to do if you want to go outdoors. And now the kids today in Australia, if you’re at school, they have a policy called no hat, no play. You can’t go out of the classroom if you’re not wearing a hat. And the hat will have one of those things down the back, covers your neck as well. It’s a good look.
Tim Ferriss: Well if you go to Bondi, maybe not Bondi. I’m not sure where the best surfing beaches are, but if you go to some of these beaches, I was astonished because I saw all the surfers looked like they were getting ready for an Antarctic expedition. I mean they had the ear flaps, the neck flaps. They had enough zinc on their face to make them look like snowmen.
Jim Jefferies: Oh yeah. We always had like fluorescent zinc on our noses as kids in the ’80s and now they still just put the white stuff. But that was how you sort of showed how your personality, whether you had pink or green or fluoro yellow or whatever like that. But I like to look at like Bondi Beach and just watch the British people who have never seen sun, just like, they’d been there for a week going, go on there, lay out, enjoy yourself, and they’re all just getting burnt the fuck. Yeah, I love watching the British get burnt in Australia.
Tim Ferriss: Well I suppose Bondi, if I remember correctly, because my friend used to be a lifeguard actually and he was saying you could just sit at a cafe and you could watch, I suppose on one hand the Brits just get turned into rotisserie chicken and then you could see tourists from, he said in particular from China, just get swept out to sea because they weren’t prepared for the currents.
Jim Jefferies: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Mind you when I was a kid that happened to me a few times. When you swim out a bit far and then you start drifting off and you’re like, “Ah, fuck, I’m going to die.” I did that thing where I waved and then like someone has to come out on a little boat and come and get you, and you’re like, “Sorry about that. I’ve swum a bit far.” So to this day I don’t go far out in the ocean.
Tim Ferriss: When did you feel confident in comedy as your direction? Actually, before we get to that, let’s bookmark that question. I just want to say something before I forget and not to get all sentimental this early on our first date, but I owe you a debt of gratitude because your comedy has helped me get through some really dark periods. And that might sound funny because your comedy itself can be dark at points. But putting that aside, I’ve really enjoyed your comedy over the years and it’s been not just entertaining but really helpful to me at points. So thank you for that.
Jim Jefferies: Oh, no problem. That’s a very sweet thing of you to say.
Tim Ferriss: And so to comedy and direction, when did you feel confident that that was your —
Jim Jefferies: I wanted to be a comedian from the age of about 13, 14 and then I did it two times, three times when I was 17 and one time I did it and it went really well. And it was The Comedy Store in Sydney and you have to go down there and they put your name in a hat and they pull your name out. And I had five minutes and it was just all about being in school or whatever. I can’t even remember what I talked about. And then they said, “Oh, you’re not 18 are you?” And I was like, “Nah.” And they go, “You have to come back with a parent.”
And so I hadn’t told my parents and my parents as well, I hadn’t even told them that I went into the city. Like I wasn’t allowed to go into the city. I lived out in the suburbs and I told them I went to a mate’s house or something. So I traveled into the city. And so, next time my dad had to come with me and I remember it was bucketing down with rain and I went out there and I got back on and the only other people in the audience, because it was raining, were the other comedians waiting to go on. And there was the full range of people who were getting good at it, people who were never going to get good at it, and people who were their first go and people who have been trying for years.
And anyway, I got up, I couldn’t have had a worse gig, I couldn’t have died worse than that. And I got in the car with my dad afterwards and my dad said, he goes, “You’re a good kid and you got a lot of good qualities, but this isn’t for you.” And my heart sank and then I went and did it one more time just to see. Because that first time went so well and then I did it again and I died again and I went, “All right, this isn’t for me.” And then I didn’t go up again until I was 20. I didn’t do it. Yeah, I waited another three years. I used to think it was more than that. But I was in college and I used to run my own comedy night and I remember there was a — I was in Perth when I started doing that.
So a lot of people think I’m from Perth because of this, because I really started doing comedy in Perth. But the way that a lot of people get stage time is what you do is, you find a venue, you put your own shows on, you book your own comedians and that way you can MC and you can get better by, you know, because I couldn’t get gigs so I thought I’d run my own gig. And there was this area in Perth called Claremont and Claremont had a serial killer at the time, had the Claremont Killer, right? So what happened? I don’t think they ever caught him. I don’t know. Maybe they did catch him. I don’t know, but when I was there, the guy called the Claremont Killer. And what happened was with the Claremont Killer, all the bars that would normally — this is a big party area of Perth, they were all — no one was going out because all the girls who got killed, the last thing that happened for them, they left the nightclub and got into a taxi or went looking for a taxi. And then they would never be seen again.
So the nightlife there just died. So there was all these bars that were just empty. And so I went into one like, “Oh, can I have a gig?” And they were just happy to have anyone in the building. And I used to get like 15 people, me mates to come along to these shows and it was a really popular bar. But on a Friday night I could have a gig there because of the Killer. So you know, silver lining to what happened there.
Tim Ferriss: And when you, if we go back to 17 you tried it three times, “Maybe this isn’t for me.” What in your head was plan B or the alternative?
Jim Jefferies: Well, there’s a weird thing sort of, I think, for people who really know about me, and there’s not many people, but there’s a bit of a myth about me being an opera singer, which is vaguely true, right? What happened was, when I was 17 I was in a school musical and then I was doing all right. And then someone said, “Oh, you should get some singing lessons and blah, blah, blah.” And so I got some singing lessons with this guy called Richard Gill, who has since passed, and he was one of the main conductors for the Sydney Opera. And he got me a part in the chorus of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman and I had to sing in German. I was like 17 and I just bought a CD of this opera, and I just mimicked it and I wasn’t that great a singer, but after that, I got into WAAPA, which is the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts.
And I studied musical theater and then I studied opera in the next year and so I was a professional opera singer for a few weeks of my life, but it was never a full-time thing. But I did this course. It was the same course that Hugh Jackman did and it was a full scholarship ride. And I remember, because I didn’t have the marks in school to get into anything academic in university and I don’t believe I had the marks to actually get into this course, but they never checked for my high school certificate. And I just went in and did a dance and singing audition and stuff. And I always still wanted to be a comic, but because I thought the comedy wouldn’t work out, I still wanted to be an entertainer and a performer.
So I thought, “Oh, this is another thing I can do.” And it was also, I think for my mother at that stage, that was something that she was far happier to brag about, that I was studying music in a prestigious college or something like that. But maybe my second year into the course, there was a comedian called Gary Who, who is this guy who had been on Australian TV. I still know Gary to this day. He’s a very nice man and he’d come over to do a gig in Perth and I was his opening act and we had a few drinks afterwards. We got along. I think he liked me more as a person than he liked me as a comic, but he said, “Do you want to come and do these mining town gigs?”
And I thought that’s too good an opportunity. So I quit university and I went out to places like Kalgoorlie and these little gold mining towns and I performed in these bars just like Australian cowboys pretty much, guys in cowboy hats that live out on the land and they work in the mines and all that sort of stuff. These bars, these towns had so many men working out there and so few women that in the bars, in these towns, the bartender would be a female and they’d ship them in and they’d call them skimpies. And a skimpy, and she would just be topless. Now this wasn’t a strip bar, this was just a normal bar. All the bars have topless bartenders in all these little country towns. And the reason for that is if you take away the topless girl behind the bar, it’s a gay bar. It’s just men. So they had to go, “No, no, no, we’re not gay.” Because they all dressed like cowboys, this sort of thing, “We’re not gay, there’s a pair of tits over there. So we’re all right, you know.”
And so I did these gigs and I hadn’t told my parents that I’d quit university. I thought I’ll just keep doing this until I can be a full-time comic. And then I think it’s basically the storyline of the movie Punchline, that Tom Hanks’ character who said, “Oh no, I’m going to be a doctor, I’m going to be a doctor.” And then he said he’d tell his parents once he’s a professional comic. But then I just quit uni, I went back to Sydney to my parents and said, “Oh, I’m going to give stand up comedy a go.”
And then I think I moved to England. I moved to England then. I know the day I moved to England because I was packing my suitcase and at about 10 o’clock at night and I was all excited. It was going to be my first time traveling overseas. I’d never been — oh, no, I tell a lie. I’d been to America once when I was 14, but it was my first time traveling overseas by myself without family members. And I was gone on my big adventure, by myself. I was getting on a plane and I was packing me bags and the Twin Towers fell down and that’s how I can remember the date that I left for Britain, the next day, yeah.
Tim Ferriss: Now you lead into Britain. I’ve read, trying to do homework for this conversation, that you’d commented somewhere that there were lots of funny comics in Australia. Some people funnier than you, but that you had more ambition than some of them, and you ended up going to the UK. You ended up then going to the US. Is that a misquote? I mean, you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet.
Jim Jefferies: I think that that’s true, but maybe more ambition is the wrong way to say it. I think I was in a place in my life where I was young enough and had less connections that I could get up and do that, that I didn’t have a girlfriend. I didn’t have kids. I started pretty early in life at comedy. A lot of people don’t start till they’re 30 or they’re late 20s or whatever like that, and then they have roots. I didn’t have anything holding me back, so there were comics in Australia who were better than me, but I feel like maybe they couldn’t get up and go, but also, when I say ambition, there’s a difficult thing with Australian comedy because doing live work in Australia is very difficult because you don’t have the population to sell tickets.
People watch comedy in Australia, but they’re going to go out and see the big acts when they come to town. So the comedy clubs, for the most part, are empty. Melbourne has one comedy club. Sydney, I think, has two. Perth has one. This isn’t enough to sustain an industry, a ground roots industry anyway. So, everybody’s sort of like — when you’ve made it in Australia, you’re the breakfast radio guy, if you can get that job. That job in Australia pays really, really well, and so everyone’s trying to get those jobs. So I think a lot of people who were good comics maybe had, because no one was really full time, maybe had a good day job. I didn’t have a good day job. I was selling mobile phones during the day when I was a comic in Australia.
So I fucking wasn’t worried about leaving that at all. I was one of the worst employees a company had ever had. I worked for a place called Strathfield Car Radios and I was just — if there was a way to get out of working, I had found it. There was stairwells that I hid under. I did things that seem like they, to get out of work, that were more work than actually doing work. I had to sell car stereos and mobile phones. I still to this day, if I was to sell a car stereo, I don’t know how much amplifiers you need to run a subwoofer. I sold them for years and I have no idea. While I was at college, I worked for this guy and I used to just point at things and guess and go “That, look at the size of it,” and go “That’ll do it.”
One time, I totaled a guy’s white van, like just totaled it in a stereo fitting, which is very — what happened was this guy, this white van driver, a guy that works, a plumber or whatever the fuck he was, yeah? He came in and he goes “Ah, I want some speakers and a CD player.” I was like, “All right.” Now, I knew which was a good CD player. I got him like a Sony CD player and I said, “Oh, this has enough amps in it that you can run some six by nine speakers.” I go, “You just put them in the back here. That’s a good size speaker, a six by nine, and that’ll be good.” Then he goes, “Oh, I can only get it today,” and all the fitters were full. So I said — I went down. There was a 16-year-old apprentice working down there and I said, “Mate, this is an easy job. Just put the stereo in there,” and then I don’t know how to fucking do it. I said, “And you run the wires along these door panels down here and then just whacked out your speakers in the side there, just into the sidewall, and that’ll work, right?”
Now, you’re meant to take the panels off, cut the holes in, put the speakers in, put the panels back on. This young fella just got the saw out and he just started cutting and it got a bit stiff. Anyway, he cut out one of the support beams that support the roof of the car and the roof of the car just slanted down about 45 degrees, just sunk into the thing. This guy came back to get his car and I just went, “Okay, well, the good news is the stereo sounds great.” Ah, and then just — having to — I never felt more terrified in my life than having to walk this bloke down just to show him that we demolished his car in about an hour and a half.
Tim Ferriss: What happened?
Jim Jefferies: Well, the company had insurance for such occasions, I’m sure. I’m sure we just bought him a new van. There was no way to fix it. You can’t put a new support. It’s not a panel beating job. We basically cut the roof off his car, so I assume he got a new van out of it, so he probably did pretty good. there was a couple of things like that. I saw a bloke getting knocked out, changing over — I saw a guy, the new BMWs, and in the European cars, they’re different colored wires and stuff like that. He was trying to test the fucking — the land and the positive and the negative and the earth and all that type of stuff. He’s got his tests out and he’s laying in the front seat of the car and he touched the wrong wire. It was the wire for the airbag, and the airbag exploded into his head and he was knocked out and there was just fucking white dust back there. Anyway, look, I’m not saying anything that’s too bad. That company’s gone bust now. They don’t exist anymore, so they can’t get angry at me for saying anything, probably because of fucking me.
Tim Ferriss: How did you make the decision to go to the UK? Why the UK as opposed to somewhere else? Is that a usual kind of lily pad for a lot of promising talent in Australia?
Jim Jefferies: Well, the UK has more comedy clubs per capita than anywhere in the world, far beating America. Also, it’s just a great place to do comedy because it’s so compact. I remember, before I moved here to America, I used to bitch and moan about, “Oh, I’ve got to drive to Manchester,” 200-mile drive. You know what I mean? I used to like, “Oh, better get a hotel room and stay the night in a hotel.” In America, I’m on planes and flying and drunk. There’s an old saying that Americans think a hundred years is old and British people think a hundred miles is far. Right? I think that sort of sums it up, right?
But also, if you’re under 27 and you’re from the Commonwealth, and the people from Canada can do this as well, you can get — and I think it’s one year now, but back then you can get a two-year work visa where you’re allowed to go out and work. Now, you’re only meant to do menial jobs. You’re meant to be bartenders and whatever. You’re not allowed to further your career, so if you walk into any bar in London, it’s filled with Australian and New Zealand bartenders, so I had to do comedy on the sly, cash in hand until one of the management companies would give me a work permit, but I never became a British citizen or anything. I stayed there for 10 years and my visas would only ever last until my gigs ran out. No one booked you more than three months in advance, so every three months I went into a panic, like all right, I guess it’s all over now. This is the end of the career. You’re going back to Australia, and then I got another one and then I got another one and I just kept on staying.
I had a girlfriend there for a bit that I thought I’d marry and thank fuck that didn’t work out. I look back on it now, but she was a nice enough girl, but that never happened. Yeah, I just kept going. So what would happen is — there was very few American comics in Britain. I feel like it’s different now. I feel like the world of comedy is a lot more close. It was much more segregated where everyone was, but all the Canadians and Australians and New Zealanders all hung out together. We all lived in these houses with like eight comics and it was good. It was probably, I would argue, the happiest time in my life. I think that would be the happy — and I was broke as fuck, but the rise is always better than the peak, man.
Tim Ferriss: Well, let’s talk about that for a second. So, what was it about the rise that you think was — that situation that contributed to feeling happy during that period of time?
Jim Jefferies: It was the optimism, and also, you were in it with a group of people who you all started out with and you were all supporting each other. The British scene, in my mind, is less competitive than the American scene. I attribute that to, in America, you play at a comedy club and then the comedy clubs decide who’s getting paid what. So there’s a real, you’re worth this much, you’re worth this much, you’re worth this much. Right? So you’ll have a headliner who might be being paid $10,000 for that show and you’ll have a support act who’s literally getting 40 bucks, and that’s still going on, right? So there is a little bit of like, when you’re the person earning the $10,000, like, “Oh, don’t worry guys, I’ll get the drinks.”
There’s a bit of that, but you go down to — I don’t know what it is now, but you go down to the Comedy Store in London, in the early 2000s, 200 pounds a gig for everybody, and you might do two shows there a night, 200 pounds. What’s that, like 300 American bucks or thereabouts? Yeah? That was a good income that you could live off and each comic was getting the same price, so you didn’t feel like, “Well, why are they getting this and I’m not getting this?” If you got famous, you got out of the comedy clubs and you went and did theaters. You never were famous and in comedy clubs, and so they never — the comedy clubs might just have your name written out the front, but they don’t have posters around the club going, “Next week, David Spade. Next week, Kevin Nealon,” or whatever. You know what I mean? They don’t have that. So people just went to comedy because they wanted to go see comedy. The club might have a reputation for having the best acts or what have you and another club might have a reputation for having worse acts, or maybe they pay less or whatever, but so the fact that that no one was sort of getting paid more than anybody else and we were all sort of in the same boat, it didn’t breed jealousy or competitiveness like it does over here.
Also, in America, that seems to be — Britain, there’s so few TV opportunities. You might go on a panel show or something like that, but comics getting offered sitcom deals isn’t really a thing, because there’s not that many sitcoms, there’s just not enough channels to do that. In America, it’s like that guy got a development doing what? Where the fuck did this person get it? So that, I think breeds more jealousy and maybe less kindred spirits than the British one. I think I still have more friends in comedy in the UK than I do in America, but it’s kind of to say that when I moved to America, I was already sort of established and I was older and I sort of just keep to myself to be honest. I like, when I’m not doing comedy, to not think about comedy. When I was younger, all I did was think about comedy and what do I do? Jokes, jokes, jokes, jokes, jokes. Now I just sort of try not to watch anybody and try to keep to myself and try to be a good dad and all that type of stuff and I think that just comes with age.
Tim Ferriss: When did you first feel in, say the UK, that you were successful? That’s relative, right? So it could have been a small win, it could have been a big win, but when did you feel, “Holy shit, like I think I’m on my way. This could be a thing?”
Jim Jefferies: Well there’s several different stages of that. Now, the first stage is I didn’t have a day job anymore, so I stopped working in the bars. I was working in pubs and stuff when I first got there. I stopped working in bars and then comedy was my full-time job. That was maybe the best feeling I’ve had of anything ever, I think. That was the best one was when — that this is my job. When you got to the airport and you had to write down occupation in the form and I got to write stand up comedian, that felt — I still fucking get a little buzz out of doing that, man. I still, stand up comedian and then the next sort of step — what happened was, in Britain, if — in my opinion, if you weren’t doing the Edinburgh Festival, you weren’t really trying.
The Edinburgh Festival, unlike Montreal or what have you, or some of the other ones around the world, where you’re invited to these festivals, you’re not invited to Edinburgh. You just decide if you want to do it and then you go up there and do it. If people show up, well, that’s good for you, but it’s a real litmus test on whether people like you or not, because you went from being in the clubs to you’re getting reviewed by 15 or 20 publications. Now some of these publications are just pissy little student rags that are around for the three weeks of the Festival, and some of them are Scotsman and The Telegraph and big, independent and proper newspapers. So you’d go up to Edinburgh, and so I did one Edinburgh Festival in a 50-seater and I averaged 30 tickets a night and I thought that’s pretty good. Then the next year, I went up and I had 120-seater and I sold that out.
Then, afterwards, so then my management put me into little community centers around the UK to just do solo shows and a little 200-seat, community theaters in these small little villages, little towns and villages in between the towns. What happened was, so I was about to do my first tour and then 2006 and I got punched in the head. This is before things went viral or it was before really YouTube is what YouTube was. Then this thing was on everywhere, me getting punched in the head.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, you mentioned Manchester earlier. It was Manchester Comedy Store, right?
Jim Jefferies: Yeah, yeah, it was a Manchester Comedy Store. So this little tour I was meant to be doing sold out. I’ve always said that a lot of people go, “Oh, that was lucky, but it was, but you still have to be able to back it up, because a lot of opportunities happen to a lot of people.” It’s whether you’re ready to pounce on it. So that was sort of a bigger moment, and then going on. Every time you go to a new festival, and I remember feeling really big the first time someone paid for an airplane ticket for me. I thought “That’s something. I’m traveling.” I went and did some gigs in Asia and then I went to Montreal and I was like — I was just sitting in economy, but I remember thinking, “Fuck and I’m seeing the world for free.” That seemed like a big deal to me because, when growing up, my parents saw the world and they — for two years, they traveled. I was always sort of envious of that and thought, “I’ll never be able to do that. I’ll never — ” and then when I got to do it and stay in nice hotels and that type of stuff, that felt like a real achievement.
Then, everything since then hasn’t really felt like anything, to be honest. Nothing — American success or anything’s just sort of felt like — now I’m of the opinion that it’ll all go away one day. It’ll all end or it won’t be what it is now. You got to be happy without it. If you’re not happy with it, you won’t be happy without it. So, that’s why I’m saying the rise was better than the thing. Now it’s like, “Oh, when’s this going to end?” When you’re younger, you’re like, “The sky’s the limit.” Now it’s like, “I don’t need to go up any higher. I’ve seen enough of the sky.”
Tim Ferriss: What keeps you going these days? I would agree that the sort of chasing the summit is, in a lot of ways, more fun than getting up there and being like, “Jesus Christ. Okay, now what?”
Jim Jefferies: Now, it’s less about success and more about making good work. It’s also things, now — it’s like — so I’m doing a multi-cam sitcom now. If you asked me even a year ago if I’d ever do a multi-cam sitcom, I’d think no one would ever put me in a multi-cam sitcom. Then when I got asked, some of the fanbase were calling me a sellout and all that type of stuff because I’m doing a multi-cam and it’s like, “You know what? Fuck you, man.” It’s like, I watch Seinfeld, I watch Friends, I watch Cheers, I watch all these things. I love those shows. There’s a rumor about these shows that, “Oh, but they have a laugh track.” They don’t have a laugh track. It’s a fucking studio audience. People are actually laughing. That’s real laughter, but it seemed to be a bit cheaper or something, but I think, now, is challenging myself is what you want to do. So I’m not a good actor, right? Sometimes I get better at it, the more I do it, you know what I mean? I’d like to get good at acting. I think that would be a thing that would be — I would never have the audacity to call myself an actor. I say, standup comedian/actor and I always think, “I should take that bit off, the actor bit.” That’s not a real thing. Because I know real actors. I’ve got some friends who are proper actors, and they’re a complete class difference from what I can do. Every job, like in Legit, I played myself; I’m going to play myself in this sitcom. I’m not really an actor as such, as someone who just reads the lines as myself.
Tim Ferriss: Well, you mentioned getting better at acting. Let’s talk about comedy for a second, and flash back to Edinburgh. So for people who want to picture, Edinburgh’s this extremely picturesque town.
Jim Jefferies: Oh, it’s a beautiful city.
Tim Ferriss: It’s beautiful. You’ve got the coffee shops, where J.K. Rowling wrote The Sorcerer’s [Stone].
Jim Jefferies: Oh, I didn’t know that. Is she from Edinburgh? There you go.
Tim Ferriss: She wrote a number of the books there, I think at The Elephant Room. And then like beautiful fudge, kind of looks like Hogwarts. You can see all these buildings. Yeah. What happens, just since I don’t know anything about the Festival. If it’s not invite only, what happens if too many comics show up, or is it just so intimidating that that doesn’t happen? And you just kind of walk into town with a stick in a satchel over your shoulder?
Jim Jefferies: There’s just unlimited rooms. They go to the university, they use every single classroom. They’ll find any — they’ll find a closet and go, “This is a four-seat room.” Half of these rooms are complete nutter fire hazards. They shouldn’t be allowed. And it’s in the middle of summer and people are sweltering. There’s people fainting in your audiences. And then there’s — the biggest is a thousand seats, which is Assembly Hall. But then they do things like they put tents up. So there’s a lot of park areas, and they just whacked tents up everywhere. And people performing these tents. And what happens is, these venues will start operating at nine in the morning, and they’ll be running at four in morning. Right?
And each hour is someone’s act. So, you know when — my first show, I got like a 11:00 p.m. spot, which isn’t a great spot. You want that sort of six to nine sort of area. And then, as you get more popular, they go, “Oh, you’ve got the eight o’clock spot.” And you’re like, “Ooh, the eight o’clock spot.” You know what I mean? I think I heard something, 2,000 shows are up at the Festival.
Tim Ferriss: That’s incredible.
Jim Jefferies: And it’s not just stand up comedy. Stand up comedy, for whatever reason, is the bit that it’s known for, but it’s an arts festival. So there’s a lot of cool things. During the day, there’s a lot of shows that you can see, that you can take your kids to something. Some puppetry, or some type of clowning type thing. Or a lot of standup comics, who are more family-friendly, they might do their adult show at night, and they’ll do a kid during the day, which is a cool thing.
And look, I never could. I was always hung over and sleeping till 5:00 p.m., and then I’d crawl out and do my show. I used to gain like 20 pounds at that Festival, just beer weight, just horrible fat. Anyway, for me, it’s a magical place, more than any other festival, because everybody up there was creative, and it was people that wanted to do their things, and comics were experimenting with what they couldn’t do in comedy clubs.
There was things that I was doing that — I did a story that was 30-40 minutes long, 40 minutes long about taking my friend with muscular dystrophy to a brothel. And the thing about that is, I’d never done a set in a comedy club that was more than 20 minutes. So I couldn’t have done that routine if not for the Edinburgh Festival, even if I wanted to. But the thing is, I think the average loss is £5,000. It’s your own money. And the promoters are making money, and there’s posters everywhere, right? And then you’ve got to pay for the posters. Then you’ve got to pay for people to flyer for you all day. Or you’ve got to flyer for yourself. And so if you break even on that festival, if you come out like going, “Yeah, zero. You really crushed it.”
So It’s a gamble. But the thing is you get reviewers, you get media. So there’s things like, what’s her name? Fleabag. You know — Phoebe — Phoebe Waller — Phoebe Waller — She just wrote the last James Bond movie.
Tim Ferriss: Oh, gosh.
Jim Jefferies: She won an Emmy for —
Tim Ferriss: I’m looking her up.
Jim Jefferies: She won an Emmy for her TV show, Fleabag.
Tim Ferriss: Okay, I got it. I’ll try to find her. We’ll put it in the show notes.
Jim Jefferies: Anyway. Like, her show —
Tim Ferriss: Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Is that the one?
Jim Jefferies: Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Right. So her show was just a show at the Edinburgh Festival, that some BBC executive saw, and [mumbling sounds] “make it into a TV show.” And then all of a sudden, you got a TV show, then she’s got American TV. Now she’s fucking writing James Bond. And that magic doesn’t happen out of a comedy club. It just doesn’t. So the Edinburgh Festival gave us Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. They won one of the first awards, and all these great sketch groups that, I don’t think Monty Python ever did it, but maybe they did. I don’t know. I’m a huge Python guy.
Tim Ferriss: You are?
Jim Jefferies: Yeah. I had John Cleese come over to my house for dinner, and I was just fanboying out the whole time, and it is the fucking best, man. It was the — I’m friends with his daughter. And they were going to come and see one of my shows, and then, because this is the early stages of quarantine, before everyone was quarantined, but we were canceling live things. It was that first week. So my show was canceled, and he was going to come, and I said, “Oh, well just come over for dinner.” And then I just was like “Fucking John Cleese is in my house, man.” That was, that was one of the great thrills of my life.
Tim Ferriss: If, for people who don’t have, and this is true, I think, of a lot of younger people who might be listening to this from the US. If they don’t have exposure to Monty Python, where would you suggest they start?
Jim Jefferies: Well, it’s very easy at the moment, because I think Netflix has all of it.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, super easy.
Jim Jefferies: Netflix has all of it. I think the easiest, the most palatable thing to — okay, the best movie is The Life of Brian, but maybe if you just want to have something that’s like easy, palatable, and I think, I think it’s the worst film. I’d watch The Meaning of Life first. Because it’s small sketches, and it’s easy to watch. I’m not a big Holy Grail or Jabberwocky fan. I like Life of Brian, but the Flying Circus show is as good as anything. And all of those are on Netflix, and they’re ready to watch. All the sketches are good. They’re all good. It’s just like the classic ones, like the dead parrot and all that type of stuff. They’re not even the best ones. They’re just the most easy to quote, I think. They’re not even the best ones.
Tim Ferriss: Well, let’s talk about your brothel visit with your friend with muscular dystrophy.
Jim Jefferies: Sure.
Tim Ferriss: All right. So Edinburgh Festival. It’s a big opportunity. How do you work on that material? Like what did you do to get that ready? That’s a big set.
Jim Jefferies: Well, that routine pretty much as the story — you have stories that are partly true and stories that you embellish and stories that you add on things, but that’s story’s very, very close to a hundred percent true. Very close. And, what happened there was, I had my friend, his brother wanted to get a blow job. We sorted it out, and we sorted it out. And then, the story happened. And then I remember when that happened, I was actually at the Melbourne Comedy Festival, which I’ve only done once. And I went into bar, the comedian’s bar in Melbourne. And I literally walked in and I saw a couple of friends of mine, and I said, “Have I got a story for you!” And I remembered when I started telling it, by the time I was halfway through the story, there was maybe 11 people standing around in this bar, and people saying, “Turn the music down.”
And I was talking about this brothel visit. And I remember thinking, “Wow, this is keeping comedians’ attention.” and I think I probably told that story in pubs and to friends for about a year before it just became a standard bit of a comedy for me. And then from that, the TV show, Legit is from. I had an FX TV show, which was completely based on that story. And it was a one-off. That was just the pilot episode, was taking someone to a brothel, someone with muscular dystrophy to a brothel.
And then we, when we did the show afterwards, we did not have 26 episodes. And the thing that was weird was, then you have a character with muscular dystrophy that you have to ride into each episode. And I thought “Oh, God, I only really need this guy for one.” But then that became the sweetness of the show. That became the sweet thing. But it was hard. Sometimes you’d write a funny scene, or something funny would happen in your life, and you think, “Oh, I’ve got to put that in the show,” and then you go, “And I have to work in a guy in a wheelchair.”
Tim Ferriss: How do you, and I apologize, I’m not a comic, so I don’t even know the proper vocabulary. I think we have some mutual friends, like Whitney Cummings and Bryan Callen, and these guys who will have much more pointed questions. But for lack of a better way to ask, how do you workshop some of your more, I was going to say intricate, but just longer pieces? For instance, and I know you get asked about this all the time, but if we look at the gun control or gun related pieces that you’ve done, I mean those are like long, theatrical pieces —
Jim Jefferies: Well, the gun control, I have an interesting story on how I wrote gun control.
Tim Ferriss: Let’s hear it.
Jim Jefferies: That routine, that’s probably, I think that probably is the routine I’m most proud about. I think it’s the most sort of thought-provoking or original or whatever thing that I did was that gun control routine that I think is most memorable.
And sadly, the routine always gets new legs after there’s a shooting or something like that. So it’s not the way you want to get known, you know? But that routine, now I have to stipulate when I say this, okay with Americans, I understand that many of you like guns, and I’m not anti-you, I don’t think you’re wrong. Well, I do you think you’re wrong. But I grew up in a society without guns, and I have had a different life experience from you.
So this is just my point of view. It doesn’t mean that my point of view is right, and your point of view is wrong. This is my way of thinking on the matter. So I have a guy and I’m happy to call this man a friend who does not agree with me in any way. And this guy is more Republican than I am. I’m more moderate. I think people think I’m a big lefty, but I’m a bit more moderate than I think people would realize. And it’s John Ratzenberger, from Cheers.
Tim Ferriss: Oh, no kidding.
Jim Jefferies: Cliff Clavin, from Cheers. And Cliff Clavin was on my TV show, Legit. And I was with him when Sandy Hook happened. And we were on set, and he said to me, “Eh Jimmy, if only these teachers had guns, we wouldn’t have these problems.” And I went, “You’re fucking kidding. You want teachers to have guns?” And we argued and debated for a few days on this matter. It was never mean or nasty or anything like that. It was just I couldn’t believe that Americans thought this way about guns. Before that, I always knew you liked guns, but when I heard these arguments, and I was saying to other people, “This guy at work, you wouldn’t believe what he said? It’s fucking crazy.” And then I started finding out that other people who were friends of mine agreed with him as well. And then other people. And I just thought, “Oh man, maybe I’m not in the minority, but this is a very common belief they all have.” So then you start thinking maybe I’m wrong or maybe I’m whatever.
So I just wanted to give not a scientific or a statistic based argument on the guns. I just wanted to give my point of view and just looking at it rationally type of argument. So that routine was written through arguments without other people. It was just conversations with other people. It wasn’t written by “Oh, and I wonder what the statistic is on this. And I wonder what that is.” And reading and researching. It was made just arguing with friends until I got all my arguments down. And I was like, “All right, this is what I’m coming in with. This is what I’m coming with.”
Very often stand up comedy is just you having a one-sided argument, and a no-one being able to respond, which is a wonderful thing. They all respond in the end. They all write something at the end on the Internet and try to get you, or they’d come up to you. But, in that moment on the stage, your argument is gospel, and no one can say any different. It doesn’t mean it’s right, doesn’t mean it’s right.
Tim Ferriss: And as you’re having these arguments, are you refining all of this in your head, just catching it in a net, or are you, do you have a little black book you pull out of your pocket, something comes up? How do you capture it?
Jim Jefferies: I don’t write jokes down, and I really should, because I lose track of the punchlines and stuff like that. And other lines can seep in. I should write things down, but I never fucking write things down. I do most of my riding on stage. You have a kernel of a thought, and you wait till you’re doing a gig, where you’re really cooking, and you’re the audience really likes you, and you think “I can get away with anything right now” and then you do your bit, and if it doesn’t work you go straight back into a bit that you know really well, it’s very solid.
So, that’s how I do it on stage. And a lot of people in L.A., they’ll invite you to do a gig. And they’ll say say “Hey, come down to my room and try out. It’s a good place to try out new stuff.” And it’s like are you fucking out of your mind? I’m going to come down to 10 minutes and try out new stuff? In L.A., where someone important might be? I wedge the joke in, in Kansas in my two-hour show, in the middle of, when you’re doing two hours on stage, I try to work in two new minutes each time, three new minutes. And then, that three minutes becomes five minutes, and then at the end of the year you’ve got a new show.
That’s why I always find it weird that you’re expected to have a new tour written, when really these tours are, if you see me a year and a half apart, it’ll be a new show. But if you see me, even if it’s a different tool, and it’s a month apart, it’s not going to be that much different, because everything’s just evolving and moving and turning. And then, the specials come out, and once the special comes out, you never say those jokes again.
Tim Ferriss: And when you try out this new two or three minutes, if it really works, or it partially works, do you just make a mental note? Do you go back and watch the video or listen to tape?
Jim Jefferies: Yeah, I don’t tape them either. I’m normally so focused on those two, three minutes that I know what I’m going to do. But, the two or three minutes, sometimes that works better than the stuff that’s killer, even though it’s not as good to joke, because for whatever reason, the audience can see that you’re excited by that joke and they can see the sparkle behind your eye, and there’s that little bit of magic that happens, because you’re so excited. And you can’t fake that. And you can’t act excited about a joke you’ve told a hundred times. You can’t. You can perform it well, you can perform it really well. You can put everything into it and make it great. But, you can never have that magic where you’re grinning through it, because you’re like, “Ah, this is so good.” You know what I mean? Because doing a new bit of standup, that’s the most enjoyable bit of the whole show for the performer, or at least it is for me.
Tim Ferriss: Life of Brian. So let’s come back to that, if you don’t mind. What is it about “Life of Brian” that makes it so good, in your mind?
Jim Jefferies: Well, it’s the perfect movie. The thing about it is, there’s plenty of quotable sketches in there and stuff like that. It’s mocking religion, which I love. But it’s also not mocking religion in a direct way. It’s like the Christians can get upset and go, “This is sacrilege and that type of stuff.” No, no, they don’t tease Jesus, at all. You know what I mean? They have the beginning, the meek will inherit this and inherit that. But they didn’t really get into Jesus. We’re talking about Brian. If you want to say that this is about Jesus, that’s your fucking problem. There’s a lot of people going around acting like they were the prophets, who got crucified back in the day. And if you want to say that we can’t talk about them, that seems a bit ridiculous. So it’s a lovely little loophole, where you can poke fun at people, and also that stuff about what did the Romans ever do for us? The aqueduct, the this, the that. It’s just very, very funny.
Tim Ferriss: Are there any other comics who were really formative for you or people you’ve looked at and just said to yourself, “I don’t know how they do what they do.” Right? because this is kind of two separate things I suppose.
Jim Jefferies: George Carlin, when I started watching him I thought that was that he was pretty amazing. I get a little bit Carlinesque on a joke here and there. I’ve got to watch myself because I would love to, I’d love to have been that man. He seems like the perfect comedian to me.
I would say, there was a guy called Anthony Morgan, as well, when I was growing up in Australia, who was very influential on me growing up. I don’t know what he does these days and I haven’t seen him since, but he was a big deal for me. And Eddie Murphy’s Delirious was a pivotal moment in my childhood. It was the first time I saw someone who wasn’t Australian doing stand up comedy.
Got to understand, in Australia we only had four TV channels. We had no comedy specials. I didn’t know Richard Pryor was a comedian. I thought he was an actor. Right? We had no standup specials. We had no HBO. That didn’t exist. We didn’t even have American TV. I couldn’t see who was doing well on Carson. That didn’t exist. Those clips never got to us. We had our own late-night shows with our own comics on them, and you’d see them for a few minutes and that was all you really saw of them.
And then, Delirious was the first cinematic release standup special, so it was in the video store and I remember watching it and I couldn’t get over this guy was doing standup comedy for an hour. That blew my mind. I thought that standup comedy was only in a medium of five minutes. That’s what I everyone did, because then you couldn’t watch someone afterwards. And I remember I wasn’t good-looking, I wasn’t good at sports, I wasn’t anything that was deemed to be cool, I couldn’t play on a guitar, and just to see someone who was doing something that I believed I had the innate talent to be able to do, and he was cool. You know what I mean? I’d never seen —
Because comedy before that, before Eddie Murphy for me, I didn’t — we’re goofy, we’re goofy people, and I still to this day don’t particularly care if — my mother always used to go there, “Those kids at school are laughing at you, not with you,” and I just didn’t care as long as I was getting the laughs, because I still knew I was doing it to get laughs. It didn’t matter to me where they came from. And so, just to see someone who was cool and he was — Look, let’s be honest, I wear a fucking leather jacket on all my specials because fucking Eddie Murphy wore those leather jumpsuit. There’s one of my specials I wear it without a t-shirt. I just wanted to just once, once have a leather —
And I’ve never done that in my personal life or anything. Just before I walked out on stage, I went, “Fuck it. I’m taking the tee shirt off. I’m going to be like Eddie Murphy and just wear a leather jacket on bare skin.” Fuck, and that jacket stinks to this day.
Tim Ferriss: Do you think you’ll still be in L.A., or is L.A. home base for you, in 10 years’ time?
Jim Jefferies: L.A.’s home and L.A. is home and I don’t believe that — I’ve got a kid and I would like to have another child sometimes. So, I think when you have children, I think that’s, your moving’s done. You know what I mean? I think maybe I could retire in Hawaii or something like that, depending if my kid fucking goes off and works in New York or whatever, what’s the point of me staying in L.A.? You know? Maybe I could go off to Santa Barbara and buy a place and go for fucking walks or whatever the fuck people do when they’re old. You could be in a lot worse places than L.A. There’s nothing wrong with it.
Now, I really get a bit home proud of L.A., and I don’t like when people bag on it, when people just go, “Oh, L.A. Oh, you must hate it there.” And they’re like, “Oh, the traffic, the traffic. Where I live doesn’t have traffic.” Because your place is shit. L.A.’s got traffic because people want to fucking live here. That’s why there’s traffic, because people want to be here. And it’s good, the food’s good and the women are pretty and shit. You know what I mean? Like why would you want to fucking — the restaurants are nice. Like there’s places, other places, that are nice as well, but there’s just, what my argument is is there’s nothing wrong with L.A.
Tim Ferriss: Well, L.A. is also, I mean this took me a while to figure out and obviously there are many people who spend more time there, but I lived in Northern California for almost 20 years and spent a lot of time in Southern California, is that L.A., to me, strikes me like as if it’s a dozen different cities all within the umbrella of L.A., right? So you can really kind of pick your pocket depending on where you want to be and the personalities are very different.
Jim Jefferies: Yeah, I agree with that as well. It’s like, when I moved to L.A., all I knew of L.A. was two things. There was the Hollywood, which was the ritzy looking lights and that type of stuff, and then there was Compton. And they’re only two things that I’d seen on TV. You know what I mean? And so, I used to think, I used to believe I couldn’t walk the streets in L.A. because a Blood or a Crip would come and shoot me. You know what I mean? Like, there’d be a drive-by or — It’s fucking — Or, I’d be in Beverly Hills and it would just be girls with long legs with dogs in handbags, and I thought that was all there was. It turns out there’s also the Valley!
Tim Ferriss: What do you think, and I won’t keep you too much longer, and we’re definitely going to talk about the podcast, but what has helped you to have longevity in comedy? It seems like you have some longevity. Yeah.
Jim Jefferies: I think it’s producing a lot of specials. I think bringing out the specials constantly sort of keep you going. The specials never, I never do a special and then it’s like, “Wow, you’re more popular now,” or anything like that, but it just keeps your fan base going. I think you got to give a product, you’ve got to keep touring. If you keep your eye off the ball, then — look, I’m not a big believer in that I’m in competition with anybody else. I just think if I just keep on producing good quality stuff, I’ll always have a fanbase, whether it be small or large or whatever. There’ll be somebody somewhere that wants to pay to watch me tell jokes.
But as I said, if it all ends tomorrow and I just become like an old fellow who sits around, showing my kid pictures like, “Ah, one time I played the tennis arena in Melbourne,” you know what I mean? I think I’m all right with that too. I don’t know. I don’t know what the secret to being a successful comic is. I really couldn’t tell you. If I could tell you, I’d go manage comedians and stop doing it myself.
Tim Ferriss: When you think back to the filling in of the customs form with “standup comedian” and the high that that gave you when you first did it, what — not that it would be the same magnitude of high, it could be, but what gives you that type of high now or in the last handful of years? Or what are you hoping to do that would give you that type of hit?
Jim Jefferies: I think if I was in a dramatic movie, that would be something, that’s something that right now I can’t foresee ever happening. So, that would be one thing that would surprise me if that happened, because that’s not on the horizon. No one’s ever asked or asked if I’m interested or anything like that. So, if that happened, that would be something that would shock me if that happened. I don’t suspect that will happen, but if that happened that would shock me.
It might sound corny. The thing I get the most joy out of is probably being a dad. I really like being a dad. I think I’m more proud of when I do that well than when I do comedy well.
Tim Ferriss: What do you — how do you know when you’re being a good dad?
Jim Jefferies: That’s the thing, man. That’s the thing. You don’t know. I know my son really loves me and that’s cool, I know that. And then, you do things where, just little things, you teach some kid to ride a bike and you’re like, “Yeah, I did it.” Because, as a parent, I don’t know how to, like — my son’s still having problems doing his shoelaces, and I feel like I’ve let him down a bit there. He’s getting a bit old. He’s getting a bit old, and he should be able to do it, and I feel like I dropped the ball. I dropped the ball on that one.
Tim Ferriss: Is he 18, 19? I mean, how’s he —
Jim Jefferies: No, he’s seven.
Tim Ferriss: Okay, all right. Just checking.
Jim Jefferies: He’s seven, but I’ve read that he should have been able to do it by the time he was six, and he’s hopeless at it. He gives it a go and then I go — because I keep buying him fucking shoes with Velcro on them. You know what I mean? So, I feel like that’s lazy parenting where I’ve stuffed up a little bit, you know? But I think you take them on a good holiday, you work hard and you get them into a good school and you do all those types of things. And I feel like, all right, because otherwise what’s all this for if you’re not going to give the next generation a better life than you had?
Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Yeah, thinking about kids for the first time really, for me, in the last 18 months or so. So, I have a newfound interest in talking to people who are parents, but I don’t want to belabor that. I don’t want to turn this into a therapy session too quickly.
So let’s talk about the new podcast, I Don’t Know About That. Why this show? Why —
Jim Jefferies: Well, I think, and no offense to you, I think there’s enough shows where people are interviewing people. You know what I mean?
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, I agree with that.
Jim Jefferies: Yeah. So, you talk about what there definitely is, is far too many comedians interviewing comedians. It seems like a very weird thing now that we all go on each other’s podcasts and we talk about how we get started and how to write a joke and all that type of stuff. And then, I just sort of, I thought like, it was like how the things work or the more you know, and all those types of podcasts where they talk about stuff. Those are the ones that I sort of was interested in where I was like, I started listening to less comedy podcasts, the more podcasts where I could learn something. And then, those crime ones. Everyone likes those so much because they have something they learn about.
Now, this also goes back to my father is a very difficult man to argue with, because if you prove him wrong, and like he’ll say, “Oh, this happened, that happened and you’re bloody this and that maybe blah, blah, blah.” And then you go, “Well Dad, that’s not actually true, because in 1948 the government did blah blah blah blah, blah.” You say that and you give him facts, and then my father just goes, “Well, I don’t know about that,” and that’s not conceding, that’s just going, “Well, maybe you’re right. I doubt it.” You know what I mean?
So, what the podcast is, what will happen is each podcast we’ll have a specialist on, somebody who knows a lot about a subject, whether they’ve written a book or they’ve done a Ted Talk on it or whatever the fuck. And they’ll come on and I won’t know who they are or what they do, and then they have to say that their topic of expertise. And then, I will say everything that I think I know about that thing. Right?
Because you remember before the Internet when you had a guy in a bar who you used to think was the smartest person ever, and then the Internet came out and you could just Google things. It turned out he was completely full of shit. I’m going to be that guy. Right? And then, at the end, the person, the specialist will tell me what I got right, what I got wrong, what misinformation I had, what is a common bit of misinformation and the thing. And then, we’ll all learn together about this specialist’s topics and we’ll keep it funny and we’ll keep it light, and then at the end of the thing you’ll know about a topic.
Tim Ferriss: I love it. What are some of the topics on the slate?
Jim Jefferies: Well see, I don’t know. I don’t know what’s going to happen..
Tim Ferriss: Oh, that’s right. That’s right. What have you recorded so far, if you can give people a sort of a preview? Or maybe you don’t want to.
Jim Jefferies: I think I, can we name a couple, Alex. Yeah, we did The War on Drugs and we’ve done earthquakes. We’ve done like four or five of these, but that’s a couple. We did earthquakes and the war on drugs.
Tim Ferriss: I’m just making a —
Jim Jefferies: And now I know shitloads about earthquakes and The War on Drugs. I know a lot of stuff now, but before I didn’t know much.
Tim Ferriss: I love the format. I mean I, I do agree with you. I think there’s an overabundance of interview-style formats and who knows, I may end up looking at the photos reminiscing on the old days and I’d be okay with that too at some point, if I —
Jim Jefferies: You’re one of the bigger ones, Tim. I think you’ll be just fine.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, I think it’ll be fine, but there might be a time to take Old Yeller behind the shed and put him to rest. Well, I love your comedy. I think you’re a smart guy. It’s very, very thought-provoking, as I mentioned at the very beginning. The new podcast is I Don’t Know About That, which is debuting Tuesday, May 5th, and I’m sure people can find more about it on Jimjefferies.com. You can be found Twitter, Instagram @JimJefferies. Is there anything else you’d like to share or anywhere else that people can —
Jim Jefferies: No, man. No, no. Just subscribe to the new podcast. All my gigs are canceled. I have no shows to promote, but hopefully, after this quarantine’s all over, I’ll be coming to a city near you. Thanks for having me, Tim.
Tim Ferriss: Oh, my pleasure. And I will, for everybody listening, link to I Don’t Know About That, link to some of the episodes we mentioned, the Manchester head-punching incident, a couple of the clips and bits as well as the TV shows. Everything in the show notes as usual @tim.blog/podcast. And Jim, thank you so much for the time. I really appreciate it.
Jim Jefferies: I appreciate you, mate. Thank you. Bye, bye.
Tim Ferriss: And to everybody listening, until next time, thanks for tuning in.
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 600 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.