Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

Anthony Jeselnik Draws Criticism for Mocking a Shark Attack Victim on TV

On his new Comedy Central series The Jeselnik Offensive last night, comedian Anthony Jeselnik discussed the recent death of a New Zealand man who was killed by a great white shark and then proceeded to introduce a segment called "Shark Party!" in which he joked around about being excited about the tragedy and held a party to celebrate it while a bunch of ladies dressed as sharks danced with him. New Zealand's One News reports that the victim's family (unsurprisingly) was "disgusted" by the segment, which concludes with Jeselnik putting the victim's photo onscreen and calling him a "son of a bitch." Being deliberately shocking and offensive and saying things he doesn't mean to provoke an audience has been Jeselnik's thing for years, and this bit doesn't go that much further than previous things he's said onstage but it lacks the wit of Jeselnik's finely-crafted jokes and has been drawing a negative response in the media and on YouTube, where the video has gotten an overwhelming amount of thumbs-downs. Do you think Anthony Jeselnik crossed the line? Check the video out for yourself below:

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  • http://vidaweek.tumblr.com Jason Merrin

    Meh. Not his funniest, and maybe a bit insensitive in its specificity, but it's no more extreme than his usual. And, as usual, the real point wasn't mocking the victim – it was pointing out the ridiculousness of the public perception that shark attacks happen all they time, because they actually rarely ever do. I'm not committed to defending the bit, because it wasn't that funny and it couldn't have felt good for the family to see a song and dance celebrating the death of their recently deceased, but I'm still definitely an Anthony Jeselnik fan and I'm not going to stop watching the show or anything.

    • http://twitter.com/nichobert nich obert

      The jokes weren't the funniest for sure. Besides "dead eyed, full bellies can't lose"though. First time I saw it I thought he meant the sharks, then I changed my mind.
      Is Jeselnik's comedic persona a secret animal rights activist? If so, that's a development worth offending some New Zealanders. Old Zealand won World War Three anyway. Animal rights activist would be an amaaaaaazing wrinkle for a character who is basically a serial killer / Joseph Stalin.

      I think that's what people don't grasp. Most of them would be fine with like Cartman saying these things, because you know that the character is a horrible horrible human being. Maybe Jeselnik just hasn't established his persona enough on this level of exposure?

    • SimpleInternationalSense

      No, it can't have felt good for the family – shouldn't they have got an assist on that?
      For pitching in to help Jeselnik out with his 'punchline' and all? You know – giving over the death of their Dad & husband for ridicule and abuse for no restitution or even any request? – sound's a bit off to me. Is Jeselnik a thief?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=500015357 Brian Calandra

    Seems a little dishonest to say Jezelnick called him an SOB. He was quoting Jaws.

  • Fuck New Zealand

    Jeselnik can mock any bad thing in human existence and I would love him for it. The man is a genius. He is the Patrick Bateman of comedy. He has a huge future ahead of him. Unless he ever does what Gottfried did and apologize. YOU NEVER APOLOGIZE. Anthony if you are reading this, NEVER BACK DOWN AND NEVER APOLOGIZE. Do some more offensive tweets to the family of the dead guy.

    • mjksoprano

      Fuck you dropkick. You lost anyone you love? Send him their photo. You are a total f*cking idiot.

      • http://twitter.com/nichobert nich obert

        Your grandma can't rap. Good reason to die

        • mjksoprano

          Weak comeback dude. So fucking weak.

    • nobody

      Look, I agree he shouldn't apologize, and I thought the bit was funny, but offensive tweets to the family of the dead guy? That's too far, man.

      • SimpleInternationalSense

        Amazing, so it's possible to go too far then..?

  • http://youtube.com/user/oneminutegalactica OneMinuteGalactica

    This guy was always one of my favorites at the roasts, but this came off almost like a horrible SNL skit. Half of it was just terrible music/dancing, with incredibly lame jokes that I've already forgotten. Mentioning the vitim's name and showing his picture was stupid and offensive, but that wasn't what made this three minutes feel like ten.

    • http://twitter.com/nichobert nich obert

      The dancing and music was the best part. Such an insane
      Y bizarre and unexpected turn for him. A guy whose character is a dead eyed sociopath having a soft spot for sharks? And having strange shark women grinding on him? I dunno. I thought it was funny. Jeselniks character is so well defined that any time he pushes it into more absurd realms its more shocking than him making fun of dead people.

  • Matt

    Haven't watched the video yet, though I am a fan. I think he can reasonable have assumed that family of the man in NZ wouldn't ever see the clip. I blame whoever contacted the family and said "here look at this offensive thing".

    • http://twitter.com/ronaldjock Ronald Jock

      Definitely agree.

    • Drew

      We live in a globalized world, so that doesn't fly anymore. All english-speaking countries are intangibly linked. I'm from NZ – I follow this website, we also have the comedy central channel – We watch American media and pay for it. Jeselnik is a smug, talentless prick.

  • Matt

    Just awful comedy. But for the compliant audience, tumbleweed would have been rolling across the stage. "Fuck New Zealand": perhaps if you stood back, for a moment, from your homoerotic fascination with this comedian, you might be able to judge the piece on its merits. Which are non-existent.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2RFQ4POOILDK6NB6BMUDMGM6HU Jack Ryan

      I was at a taping today and he actually did a followup segment called "fuck new Zealand" it should air this Tuesday

      • Matt

        Hmm… quite the wit. So when a routine falls flat, rather than move on to the next joke, what does he do? Were there any sheep/hobbit jokes?

        • http://twitter.com/nichobert nich obert

          Did it fall flat? Or did you not like it?

          This guys comedy is solid gold,but this segment got some of its laughs out of him stepping out of the presumed bonds of his character.

          It reminds me of pro wrestling or rap music,it's always fascinating when people are confused as to if they're actually saying their actual thoughts

      • mjksoprano

        Haaa haaa shame his fucked up show doesn't broadcast down here and about 3 New Zealanders will see it or care.

    • Gay4Jeselnik

      Wait, are you saying that the writer of this article has a homoerotic fascination with Jeselnik, or are you saying that everybody who likes Jeselnik is gay for him?

  • mjksoprano

    This guy is nil. His fans are morons. Who laughs at dead people? It's just not humour, or talent or skill or shocking. It's just moronic and speaks to a lack of talent and intelligence. He picked a soft target in a country that most Americans couldn't find on a map. If he's so brave – let's see him show photo's of 9/11 victims and crack a few jokes or perhaps the Sandy Hook school kids? No…too close to home? Not brave enough? Why not? I know…here's a good one – anybody's mom died of cancer? That'd be a good one right Anthony? Go and find some real talent. I dare ya……

    • http://twitter.com/ronaldjock Ronald Jock

      Have you read his tweets after any recent tragedy in America? If you don't like it don't watch. The majority of people complaining don't even watch the show.

      • mjksoprano

        No I haven't seen any of his tweets after any US tragedies – not sure what your point is, but open to listening to your opinion for sure. I don't watch the show and also don't get your point. You don't have to be a watcher of the show to make a comment on it. The sketch in question is just not remotely funny. It really does demonstrate a lack of humanity to put a husband and fathers photo up on screen, who died in horrible circumstances very recently, for the amusement of others. As for everybody laughing their asses off at it – well, words fail me…..However, I look forward to your response in defending him and that kind of "humour".

        • Colin

          You don't HAVE to watch a show to make a comment on it, but you erally should. Context is everything and if you don't even make an effort to see what the context of something is it invalidates what you're saying to some extent.

          • Contextualizer Bob

            Give the context of the joke that made it funny, please.
            You should do this so that you can literally become the guarantor of the First Amendment.
            Hey, you could put it on your resume! For Jeselnik fans anything on the resume helps, apparently.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2RFQ4POOILDK6NB6BMUDMGM6HU Jack Ryan

      dude you're gonna be famous! I was at a taping today and they showed your comment and then they showed clips of jokes he make about 9/11 and mass shootings….also he made cancer jokes at a cancer support group in the very first episode of the show.

    • nobody

      He DID make fun of the Sandy Hook kids; he did a "rest in peace brotha" style fist bump and point to heaven after mentioning Adam Lanza once.

      • mjksoprano

        Doesn't surprise me – but I never knew that. His show doesn't broadcast in NZ thank fuck. And his network threw him under the bus by apologising down here and removing access to the link……..shows how much they support him.

    • http://twitter.com/nichobert nich obert

      Was this comment genius? It's like he mentions everything jeselnik talks about by pretending he doesn't talk about it lol

  • Contramoronist

    It's because he can't get it up. And his audience can't get it up. They're bitter. Life has betrayed them.

  • http://twitter.com/FirasAlexander Firas Alexander

    Interesting that the episode had a bit about having sex on tops of corpses but people have latched on to this to be offended by. The most telling part of the Shark Party bit was when he ended it by saying the score between sharks and humans this year "Humans 1, Sharks millions." The victims family has every right to be offended, but this is Jeselnik's schtick.

  • http://twitter.com/mdhmdhmdh matt headley

    I've seen all 4 episodes of the show and heard both of his stand up CDs, and none of it remotely offended me. This made me blink however, as he was delighting in the death of an innocent victim. If it was my relative…..no telling what I'd do TBH.

  • http://www.facebook.com/layton.harman.7 Layton Harman
  • Yut

    Wow. people were offended by the Jeselnik OFFENSIVE!?

    • Zach Peebles

      This is all that needs to be said. This is why I hate people

    • SimpleInternationalSense

      As someone else has mentioned round here, and quite rightly too,:
      Jeselnik is a smug, talentless prick.

  • Uhhhh

    You can't even watch that clip outside of the states, I don't understand how anyone in New Zealand would've even seen it

    • Matt

      It was watchable in Australasia until today – the local 'branch' of Comedy Central has since shut down access to the clip in NZ and Australia. Plenty of locals saw it.

  • Genevieve Van Eden

    Yes he was extremely insensitive to use a photo of a deceased and say smile you son of a bitch, He can not hide behind the whole "save the sharks" speech it is extremely lame does the man not have any dignity or pride it was nothing but Crass and defamation. I hope he and CC and those that allowed this are held accountable. I had never heard of Jeselnik he is a no body in New Zealand. This whole skid was toxic and i think it would be hard to even call it comedy.

  • derp

    WHO CARES, IT'S A COMEDIAN!!!!! Poor taste? Oh no!!!! What ever shall we do!!! I know, log in to the internet and make a pretentious soapbox rant about values or morals. Shut the fuck up, puritans. I would put this year's salary on the fact that nobody ranting about him being an ass even SAW THE SHOW. Because if you did, you missed necrophiliac jokes and a slew of baby-AIDS jokes, all of which were far more tasteless. Change the channel and worry about what the people you vote into office say, and not some random comedian.

    • Karl

      Hey, but you don't hassel a guy who's just died, man, eh – and when he flashed the guy's photo, plus called out his family – it was just no longer funny – it was just plain mean and made Jeselnik come over as a desperate, hateful asshole…

      He should probably apologise to family in New Zealand for that…

  • Jason Kone

    I think the only offensive part about this sketch was that it wasn't up to par with what I expect from Jeselnik on a weekly basis.