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Comedian Anthony Jeselnik on the 'Offensive'

Anthony Jeselnik

Anthony Jeselnik Credit: Anthony Jeselnik

I'm going to let you in on a little secret: Comedian Anthony Jeselnik - best known for his extremely dark humor - is actually a pretty nice guy.

But nice guys can't get away with joking about some of the conventionally taboo subjects he frequently riffs on.

To get away with making these jokes, Jeselnik developed an ultra confident stage persona, which gives him a lot more freedom.

He'll make full use of that as the host of his new Comedy Central series, "The Jeselnik Offensive," premiering Tuesday night.

amNY spoke with Jeselnik.

What's "The Offensive" going to be like? It's a show [where] we can take on the darker, more absurd, weirder news stories that other shows don't really get into. I do a monologue. We have a segment called "Sacred Cow" where we take on a subject that people can't really laugh at. And then we do [a] panel, where we have comedians [on] and we talk about different news stories. In the first episode we've got Amy Schumer and Aziz Ansari.

What kind of subjects do you touch on in the "Sacred Cow" segment? In the first show we do cancer, where I talk to a cancer doctor and then I do stand-up for a cancer support group full of cancer patients, which is really interesting and fun.

What do you see as the value of doing dark comedy? I think it's a harder laugh. The hardest laughs are when you don't really think you should be laughing at it, but it hits something in you. ... You're going to upset some people, but I don't need everyone. And I just think its very therapeutic. I think there is a value in joking about these awful things. Somebody might say, "You shouldn't joke about cancer," but cancer patients love it, because they're like, "Oh, you're talking about something that I know about and you're helping me laugh at something that's horrible." There's a benefit to that.

What do you want people to get out of "The Jeselnik Offensive"? I want them to laugh. I want them to be entertained and laugh about stories that no other shows are talking about and hear jokes that no other shows are able to do.

How did you develop this dark persona? When I first started, I liked dark humor, and I was trying it. I was like, "How could I get away with this?" You have to be likable - the crowd needs to like you, and I was very nervous... I found with having really hard jokes that are challenging ... if I'm very confident - saying these are the best jokes in the world - then people listen up and it gives me more leeway to be as dark as I want to. I'm practically the devil on stage just to be able to make it all work.

On TV: "The Jeselnik Offensive" premieres Tuesday night at 10:30 on Comedy Central.

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