December 22

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    Anthony Jeselnik

    Anthony Jeselnik

    On this date in 1978, comedian Anthony Jeselnik was born in Pittsburgh, Pa. He set out to write the Great American Novel, earning a bachelor’s degree in English from Tulane University, but laughter intervened. Moving to Los Angeles, Jeselnik pursued stand-up, but it was not until two years into his career that he discovered his niche after delivering a joke with a dark twist.

    Jeselnik began writing almost exclusively material of that ilk, adopting a deliberately offensive stage presence. Jeselnik was named one of Variety’s “10 Comics to Watch” in 2008. When his Comedy Central special premiered in 2009, Jeselnik was named one of the network’s breakout comedians of the year. That same year he worked as a writer for “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” showcasing his stand-up there as well.

    In 2010 he released his debut comedy album “Shakespeare.” Soon after he began writing for Comedy Central and roasted Donald Trump, Roseanne Barr and Charlie Sheen. In 2013 he created and hosted a show on Comedy Central, “The Jeselnik Offensive,” which aired for two seasons. His first hour-long special, “Caligula,” received critical acclaim.

    Jeselnik has also had two comedy specials air on Netflix: “Thoughts and Prayers” (2015) and “Fire in the Maternity Ward” (2019). In 2018 he returned to Comedy Central with a deal that included a weekly podcast, “The Jeselnik & Rosenthal Vanity Project” featuring Gregg Rosenthal and Erica Tamposi of the NFL Network.

    “I was raised Catholic. I rejected it later on. I’m an outspoken atheist now. People say, ‘Oh, it’s a negative thing to be an atheist.’ I don’t agree. I think it’s more optimistic to think that there is no God, no afterlife. I’m the only one in my family who feels this way.”

    — Jeselnik, Parade magazine interview (July 2, 2013)
    Compiled by Noah Bunnell; photo by CarlaVanWagoner, Shutterstock.com
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Freedom From Religion Foundation