Anthony Jeselnik (‘Fire in the Maternity Ward’): ‘If people boo me that’s the same as a laugh’ [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

“It’s tougher to make people laugh at these dark things,” declares Anthony Jeselnik about the challenges faced in his Netflix comedy special “Fire in the Maternity Ward.” Watch our exclusive video interview above where he adds, “People hear the word ‘Alzheimers’ and it’s an escape act from there. It’s like I’m upside down, covered in chains, in a thing full of water. How’s he gonna get out of this one? The punchline has to be good enough that it makes them laugh and they forgive me for bringing it up in the first place.”

SEE Over 100 interviews with Emmy contenders

In the comedy special he jokes around about topics ranging from murder and suicide to abortion. Tackling such heavy issues often solicits polarizing responses. The comedian reveals that “if people boo me that’s the same as a laugh. My only enemy is silence. If I told a joke and people sat there bored I’d be upset. I want to move the needle in some way. If you are talking to 2,000 people someone’s gonna get upset. I’d be bummed out if they didn’t. If you had all 2,000 people standing and laughing then you become ‘The Big Bang Theory.’ I’m not a crowd pleaser. I’m not an entertainer even. I’m a comedian. A comedian should rub people the wrong way sometimes.”

His favorite joke in the set is when he talks about his penchant for dropping babies. Jeselnik explains, “So many comedians now feel like they have to yell at the president. I just wanted it to be a fun hour of comedy where you could forget about all of that. So, I liked the misdirect where you think I’m about to go all political on stuff and it’s that I’m dropping babies. I’ve never actually dropped a baby. But it’s the fear I have every time I hold one. I think ‘what’s the worst thing that could happen?’ Most of my sense of humor comes from thinking ‘what is the worst thing I could do right now?’ And once I think of it I can’t stop thinking about it.”

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