In the first eight minutes of This Is Me Now, Jim Jefferies vigorously insists that the sex he had with an American fan was consensual, admits being nervous about being taken down by #MeToo (“between the hours of nine and nine I’m pretty blacked out”), remarks that “we all have that gay friend, don’t we?” after talking about how “grabby” Kevin Spacey is, jokes about how he tried grabbing women like the president because he was famous and “they don’t let ‘ya!”
“Women are a sensitive bunch!” he says. He also gets an applause break for saying that the president is a sexual predator who still has his job.
I don’t think Jefferies is being serious about these opinions, and a good amount of what he posits to the audience in This Is Me Now is clearly designed to push their buttons. He doesn’t, like Dave Chappelle, seem to feel like this movement may have gone too far, but that’s a faint-praise award if ever I heard one. Jefferies, taking sips from a beer throughout the special, cultivates the persona of the boozy pub regular, and he does it quite well. The cheeky, winky gestures are lived-in and feel natural on him. But the difference between him and someone with a similar presence is that Dylan Moran, say, more frequently uses these affectations to throw you off your guard and then feel surprised by how astute this guy’s grumpy opinions actually are. Jefferies—mostly—just leans into the joke of “what if I was actually this big of a jerk.” Sometimes this really works, as it does during a half-serious rant asking coal towns to “take a fucking hint.”
But he also wants to be a genuine truth-teller. Who gets applause breaks. Sometimes this really works—Jefferies’ famous gun control material is revisited here. And as an Australian, Jefferies is right that he can speak to both British and American politics with a third-party perspective. But when he’s detailing how best to grab a pussy or otherwise miming rape—facetiously, but who cares—any and all currency he’s earned from that perspective gets thrown away.
The special is largely front-loaded with that material. You quickly wish more of the hour resembles the first two minutes or the back-half, which, from a detailed breakdown of Jefferies’ contract negotiations to a cringe inducing story from a private performance for Mariah Carey, mines so much fun from Jefferies giving a playful shrug and saying “I’m a total mess but, hey. one foot in front of the other.” The title of the special comes from a wonderfully gross little story about him and his son, a nice mode for Jefferies that I wish we’d seen more of.
It’s hard to take those high points on their own, though, especially with this special being released right on the heels of Nanette. I wouldn’t presume to be in the demographic with the most legitimate qualms about this stuff, but I have assumed Jefferies would respond to these points the same way he responded to the couple he mentions in the special, explaining to them that though they suffered a miscarriage, his dead babies joke was actually about the hypocrisy of religion. He may be right, but it’s a pretty big ask of that couple to appreciate that in the moment. And it’s inherently condescending to act like this is our first time through the whole “but actually, this joke is about this” merry-go-round.
This Is Me Now is now streaming on Netflix.