Anthony Jeselnik

Anthony Jeselnik tells jokes that take guts. In a voice that's faintly evocative of a young Christopher Walken, the Pittsburgh native builds his act on the traditional framework of premise, set-up, and punchline. Of course, the same thing could be said of comedians writ large, but most also incorporate several other skills—storytelling, riffing, crowd interaction—as tools to cushion the blow from the occasional failed bit. Staring into the teeth of consternation over your latest breast-cancer joke, armed with nothing but more of the same? That's ballsy. To further add to the derring-do, the former Late Night with Jimmy Fallon monologue writer doesn't just hit hot buttons, he batters them into submission. To call him edgy impugns the moral rectitude of the edge. Jeselnik seems happiest when the risk of an audience member throwing a shoe at him is the highest. But don't linger after the show looking for apologies if your sensibilities are bruised; Jeselnik's cock-of-the-walk stage persona comes very naturally to him, suggesting that it could be a long wait. This unrepentant swagger has also made Jeselnik the latest darling of Comedy Central's dais, where he represents the nation's best hope for reducing the redundancy of roasting Charlie Sheen. 18+.
Sept. 22-24, 8 p.m.; Sept. 23-24, 10:30 p.m., 2011

 
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