HBO // 2009 // 58 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge William Lee // January 11th, 2010
Heaven help us.
HBO unleashes on America a new comic talent that observes no boundaries. Jim Jefferies (alternately spelled Jim Jeffries in some publications) is the Australian stand-up comedian who has been cracking up audiences in the U.K. for some years appearing in comedy festivals, TV shows and radio programs. Jim Jefferies: I Swear to God, his solo debut on U.S. television, aired May 16, 2009. The one-hour act doesn't quite live up to the hype of a cutting-edge comic phenomenon but there's enough solid material that will elicit big laughs.
Jim's style evokes a drunk buddy with a dirty story to tell, a persona reinforced by the several pints of beer he consumes on stage during the routine. His speech seems to slur at times but you can decide for yourself if that comes from his not-too-thick Aussie accent or if he's actually buzzed. Jim's anecdotes emerge from a sometimes hilariously fearless train of thought. Religion leads to an opportunity to tell off pandas at one point. In another moment, it seems almost natural that he arrives at a joke about burn victims. Viewers who cringe at swearing should be warned that Jim's F-bombs are constant and they're almost matched by his open use of C-words.
Jim's jokes about religion seem designed to be controversial but they're actually the weakest part of his act. Unfortunately, it makes up the first 15 minutes of the show. His views on the afterlife, for example, are pretty pedestrian: all the fun, nasty people are in Hell while the wholesome, boring ones are in Heaven. Jim declares that he's an atheist and his jokes in this realm show he hasn't really explored the comedic potential of religious dogma. Oh, he knows that pedophiles work for the Church, though. If you heard a drunk guy at the bar say these things, you wouldn't be amused or offended, you'd just call him a cab. There's no real bite to this easy material so I wasn't impressed by the early part of the performance but, fortunately, there's better stuff to come.
The best material is Jim's stories about his family and himself. A lot of laughs are to be had from his reminisces of childhood. The story of Jim and his brother playing with a vibrator is so unique you think it must be true. Even his drunk or high sexual misadventures contain the kind of thoughtful reflection that ground them as possible real experiences. Just as often, Jim will gleefully push it past the limits of credulity with jaw-dropping candor. Working off of the things that he knows (drink, drugs, porn, poop and penis), Jim's routine is a riot at times. If this material sounds too juvenile, Jim makes up for it with a somewhat charming, non-threatening, self-deprecating demeanor. He's not telling these stories to gross you out; rather, Jim treats the audience like his co-conspirator. It's like he's suggesting: You, too, could have gotten into this kind of trouble if your appetite for vice and foolish curiosity was left unchecked.
The technical presentation on this DVD is very good and makes the whole show look like a very professionally assembled package. The lighting on the stage is consistently bright and pleasing, the colors look natural and detail is sharp. The dialogue is heard clearly and Jim's completely understandable through his accented and slurred speech.
Let that funny man with a foul mouth go free. Not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (CC)
Running Time: 58 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated