Q&A: “Legit” Star Jim Jefferies
With the launch of his fourth standup comedy special and the premiere of his FX series, Legit, this has been a huge year for Los Angeles-based Australian comedian Jim Jefferies. FX announced the renewal of the critically acclaimed Legit just last week, ensuring that we will see another round of the fearless semi-autobiographical show, which portrays the life of the comedian Jim and his roommates’ attempts to coexist, date, and otherwise live “legit” lives in a world that doesn’t want to understand them.
Jefferies talked with us about the origin of the show, as well as what he will be sharing during his live shows this Saturday at Foxwoods.
It seems like you make the effort to regularly come out our way at least once a year.
I like New England, particularly Boston, [which] really embraced me from the beginning of my career in America. … I’m very familiar with Boston and after I’ve done a few shows at the casino, I definitely know that place because there’s nothing around it. I usually come out a couple days in advance to do radio and try to see things. I’m friends with John Ratzenberger, and you can’t get more Boston than that, am I right?
Since you’ve been so busy with your TV show, have you had much time to write new material? Is your recent fatherhood having an effect on your act?
As soon as we finished filming, I booked 20 dates to finish up my new hour. It all came together pretty quickly. I had a lot of ideas in my head—it took the first 10 gigs before I felt happy with what I was working on. The opening 15 minutes of the show have to be with being a father, and it’s not going to be cute and cuddly stuff—it’s stuff about how stupid babies are.
How has being a dad impacted your life as a comedian, how you work?
I’m trying to take him on the road with me as much as possible. I’m actually a little healthier—I’m trying to not drink as much, I haven’t taken any drugs since he’s been born. He’s someone else I work for, someone I am trying to be successful for.
After seeing your standup several times, and knowing what a big personality you are on stage, it was a very pleasant surprise to see that, while your character is the focus of the show, all the other cast members get their moments and storylines.
I’ve always been a big fan of ensemble casting. An ensemble cast is what was behind great shows like The Office. It’s more fun to follow a group of people and hope for them rather than just one person, in my opinion. It gives you a lot more chance to develop “B” stories. I actively set out to make it an ensemble cast as I wasn’t sure about my ability to act, because if I can’t act, what will we be left with?
What kind of feedback have you been receiving about how the handicapped characters are presented?
I have not received one negative comment from handicapped people. It’s been incredibly positive. We thought there might be some backlash about the Rodney character, so we were a bit nervous about that, but we know that Legit is one of Dr. Drew Pinski’s favorite shows and he rang me up to give us his support. I’m like, “If Dr. Drew is behind this, then we’re OK.” I have not received one bad note about what we’re doing; it’s been very well-received by the disabled community.
I ring up Nick Daley, who plays Rodney, about once a week, to see how he’s doing. He has had the time of his life on this show. So often, disabled actors on these TV shows play the sanctimonious “poor little disabled kid” on some Lifetime Channel show or the Hallmark Channel, where they always have to say “People always pick on me,” and so on. In our comedy, the characters are not picked on, they are just treated like regular guys. I didn’t do that for any pious reason. I did it because it fed the story, it served out needs.
Is there a particular issue that you find inspiring at the moment?
Oh yes, gun control. That has been something I’ve been thinking about quite a bit, which should be interesting to talk about in Connecticut, considering what happened there.