From Trump Roast to Punch Line: Anthony Jeselnik

Anthony Jeselnik

You know that comedian, Anthony Jeselnik?

Yeah, me neither.

At least, I didn’t until I saw him steal the show during the recent broadcast of the “Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump,” where he created some buzz for himself by deftly skewering the guest of honor and the other roasters on the dais, like Larry King, Snoop Dogg and Jersey Shore‘s "The Situation.”

I had a chance to see him in action myself Thursday night at the Punch Line.

Sammy Obeid

Fremont’s Sammy Obeid was the emcee and first act, mining his Lebanese ethnicity for some killer jokes about being mistaken as Mexican and Indian, as well as plenty of great sex-related material, which appeals to everyone and is always a crowd-pleaser.

Second act Andy Haynes, who has appeared on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” took the stage and gave it up for Obeid:

"Give it up for Sammy, he’s better than me!" Haynes said. "I’m used to the emcee sucking!"

Andy Haynes

Haynes touched on subjects like moving to New York from Seattle and the differences between the two cities, bringing your girlfriend to New York with you ("It’s like bringing a warm beer with you to a bar, when all they are serving inside are free, cold beers"), and how he was jealous of people in disaster areas getting free health care from the Red Cross, because as a broke comedian he hasn’t had medical insurance in six years.

Great material. I was so entertained by his bits, I almost forgot to take a photo of him.

Equally impressive was his witty, off-the-cuff banter with those in the audience, including a group of guys who drove from Reno to see the show ("Are you guys in a frat at UNR?"), and a 27-year-old loud, drunken woman who was accompanied by her 51-year-old boyfriend, who she said was "still married," slurring her explanation.

Headliner Jeselnik strolled out soon after, looking sharp in a black hoodie and jeans, and started out with a funny jab at the home crowd: "I’m such a big star from the roast, that I’m — in Sacramento."

Some background on Jeselnik: he’s done stand-up on a plethora of late-night talk shows, he was a staff writer on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and he’s written for Sarah Silverman.

Anthony Jeselnik

Jeselnik speaks with a deadpan, clipped cadence, peppering his delivery with timed pauses for effect, with the dark punchline coming after the last pause.

After telling a joke about a dilemma he encountered with a date who passed out when they got home (which the audience loved), Jeselnik said, "It’s important to open with a rape joke, to see where the crowd’s at. Looks like you guys are with me."

The merciless comedian made quick work of disruptive drunks in the audience, who weren’t exactly heckling but tried to finish his jokes occasionally.

During one joke, one woman yelled out what she thought the punchline was before Jeselnik finished the joke. He finished (with a different punchline) and berated the woman: "Like (your punchline), except my punchline was better, because one of us is a professional comedian and the other one is just a drunk chick in a bar." Huge laughs from the crowd.

Anthony Jeselnik

He ended the show by telling a couple of jokes about Marlee Matlin and Snoop Dogg that were cut from the broadcast of the roast, and he also fielded requests for specific jokes of his from the audience, before letting us know he would be out front after the show:

"I released this comedy album, “Shakespeare,” and if you want, you can come up and buy one and I’ll sign it, $10," Jeselnik deadpanned. "Or, if you just want to come up and take a picture, shake my hand, $10."

Anthony Jeselnik performs at Punch Line Comedy Club tonight and Saturday. There are two shows both nights, 8 and 10 p.m. Tickets are $16.

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April 9, 2011 | 10:14 AM

Awesome. If I didn’t already begin most of my interactions with a rape joke, I’d start now. Nice recap, I look forward to seeing more of A.J. in the future.

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