Anthony Jeselnik: Fire in the Maternity Ward (2019) – Transcript

Forging his own comedic boundaries, Anthony Jeselnik revels in getting away with saying things others can't in this stand-up special shot in New York.

Now… my best friend’s wife is a born again Christian, and we do not get along at all. The other day, she called me up to yell at me, saying I’m a terrible influence on her husband because he called her a bad name. I said, “What? Did he call you a bitch?” She said, “No, Anthony. He did not use the B word.” I said, “Uh-oh.” “Did he call you a cunt?” She said, “No.” I said, “Well, then he didn’t hear it from me.” Yeah, that’s pretty much the greatest opening joke of all time. Because even if you’ve never heard of me before, which I doubt… you listen to that first joke, you’re like, “Oh I get it. He’s fucking brilliant.”

My sister just had a baby. My sister had a baby to try to save the relationship. But I still don’t talk to her. Guys, this is gonna take forever. Um… Life can be funny sometimes, all right? Like, I can’t get into details right now. But earlier this week, I received the single greatest phone call of my life. And then just five minutes later, I got another call telling me that my dad is in the hospital. I said, “Yeah, I just heard.” I mean, look, I don’t want to give you guys the wrong impression, you know. I didn’t hate my father. My father wasn’t a bad guy. For instance, I never once, not once, not ever, ever saw my dad hit my mother. I mean, he was quick and you can’t… you can’t teach speed. That comes from here.

I remember when I was 13, my mom got diagnosed with Parkinson’s and my dad just gave up immediately. Said, “I can’t deal with this, I can’t live like this,” and packed up his car. So, as a 13-year-old boy, I had to be the one to roll up my sleeves and say, “Okay. Guess I’m going with Dad. Sounds like Mom needs some alone time.”

I think, like a lot of guys…. I’ll never forget the one time I saw my dad’s penis. I said, “Dad, don’t text me shit like that.”

When I was a kid, my family used to move around a lot. But now they’re all fat as fuck.

To give you an idea… To give you all an idea of how crazy my family is, I’m not even the biggest asshole in my own family. I have this cousin. Everybody hated this cousin, my own family hated this cousin. And then a couple of years ago, my cousin fell off of a horse and broke his neck. We all refer to that as “the Superman incident.” Because that horse is a hero.

When I was in high school, my high school employed a blind janitor. One hundred percent totally blind. And all the other kids would joke around that he went blind from masturbating too much. And at the time, I believed that. I was just a kid, I didn’t know any better. It wasn’t until I got older, wiser, I realized that’s just an old wives’ tale they used to use to… try to explain why he was always masturbating.

One of my good friends is a narcoleptic. A narcoleptic. It’s the craziest shit. One minute, we’re having a conversation, like, everything is completely normal. And then the next thing I know, I’m having sex. It’s… Did everybody get that one? If you didn’t get that last joke, don’t worry. This next joke is just like it. Only dumb.

One of my old friends from high school now works as a doctor in the emergency room. He once told me that 25% of his job is pulling strange objects out of people’s asses. We don’t talk much anymore. But I see him all the time. If you didn’t get either joke, how did you figure out Netflix?

I live in Los Angeles. Like you fucking wish you could. Yeah! I like my place. I’m not that crazy about my neighbors. Like, I live on the same street as three different families of Jehovah’s Witnesses. And no matter how many times I tell them, “No, absolutely not,” they still come by twice a week and say, “Anthony, please stop throwing rocks at our houses.” “Don’t push your religion on me.” And they’re not even the worst of my neighbors.

One of my next-door neighbors is a 90-year-old man suffering from Alzheimer’s. And every single morning at 9 a.m. he knocks on my door, and he asks me if I have seen his wife. Which means… that every single morning at 9 a.m. I have to explain to a 90-year-old man suffering from Alzheimer’s that his wife has been dead for quite some time. Now, I have thought about moving. I have thought about just not answering my door in the morning, but to be honest, it’s worth it just to see the smile on his face. Yeah, for some reason, that joke’s a crowd-pleaser.

My grandmother is suffering from dementia right now. She forgets who she is, wanders out of the house and gets lost for hours. It’s a problem. So what I did… is I tied a bell around her neck. Sounds inhumane, sure. But problem solved. I mean, that thing is… really heavy. If you’re not laughing right now… …the problem is your imagination. Don’t get mad at me ’cause you don’t know how big bells can get.

I remember, like, a couple weeks after my grandfather died, my father discovered a giant trove of vintage pornography. Frankly, an embarrassing amount of vintage pornography. So I blamed it on Grandpa. My grandfather died a couple of years ago. But he died like a king. No one was even mad. My grandfather died in what has to be the best way possible. My grandfather died in a hammock, on a beach in Hawaii during a sunset. That’s how I want to go out. Strangled to death. It just seems like fun. You know, sometimes… Sometimes I wonder if I could kill someone. Like, do I have it in me to take a human life? And then I remember… Oh, yeah, Debbie. How do you… How do you forget Debbie? She was special.

Speaking of special, went to the doctor a couple of weeks ago, found that I’m special. Went to the doctor, took a blood test. My results came back. Doctor told me my blood type is O-negative. You know what that means? Means I’m the fucking best. Means I’m a universal donor. Means I can give my blood to anyone else in the world who also has AIDS. Uh-huh. I am not afraid to say this, I hate pretty much every single religion in the world. -Let me repeat that. I hate pretty much every single religion in the world. Did you know there’s a religion called Christian Science, where they believe that even if their own children are sick and dying and all they need to save their lives is a little bit of medicine, their beliefs won’t let them give their own children that medicine. That’s the only good religion. I was like, “Get me a cup that I can put toothbrushes in.”

All right, guys, listen, jokes are all well and good. I’d like to take a couple of minutes right now and talk about something that is important to me. And I will preface this by saying there’s a lot of people right now who say that stand-up comedians should just stick to comedy, and not talk about anything else. I disagree. I think that stand-up comedy doesn’t always have to be funny. Stand-up comedy doesn’t always have to be entertaining. Sometimes, it’s about speaking truth to power. Sometimes, it’s about pointing out wrongs in the world, even though it might not be popular. So please, indulge me. With all the terrible things going on in America right now, and you know exactly what I’m fucking talking about… With all the terrible things going on in this country right now, the thing that drives me the most crazy are the people who see all this awful stuff happening, and they still flip out over the little things. My biggest pet peeve in America today are people will see all this horrible stuff going on and yet they still overreact to shit that just does not matter.

For example… have you ever dropped a baby? Holy shit, do people overreact! You drop a baby in America today, I swear people hit the roof before the baby even touches the floor. And it’s not a big deal. How do I know? Because I do it all the time. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever held a baby… to completion. And you might be thinking, “Anthony, how could you drop a baby?” You ever held a baby? How could you not? It’s so easy. It’s a two-step process. Maybe less. Should you ask, “Anthony, why would anyone ever let you hold their baby?” The answer is simple. Negligence. I love it. It’s a hobby. The only negative, the only drawback, as far as I’m concerned: the embarrassment. People try to shame you when you drop their baby… …even though I almost always make it look like an accident. That’s why this is so great. You ever do this? You ever drop a baby… and then scoop it right back up before anybody sees you? No shit, -best feeling in the world. You just hand the baby back and no one is the wiser. Especially… not that baby. Happened to me just last weekend. I was at a party. One of my friends come up and said, “Anthony, I got to go to the bathroom. Will you hold my baby?” And I tell the truth. I’m always a hundred percent honest. I say, “Yeah… for a little bit.” Held that baby 30, 45 seconds, a personal best. Dropped the baby. Scooped it right back up before anybody saw me. And it was close too. Had to run down three flights of stairs.

I’ll be honest, I don’t really understand how the legal system works in this country. I think it’s unfair, needlessly confusing. I’ll give you an example. One of my next-door neighbor’s kids is climbing a tree on their property. Falls out of the tree and lands on my fence. Now I’m being told I’ve got to get myself a lawyer… if I want to keep my half of the kid. How is that fair? And who’s going to reimburse my taxidermy? I have a two-year-old nephew. Two years old, already been to the hospital 27 times for eating pennies off the floor. What the fuck? Honestly… it’s like I can’t drop enough pennies. I’m gonna blow your minds right now. I’m gonna blow your minds out the back of your heads. You ready? I don’t like kids. There’s this nine-year-old girl. Tiny little nine-year-old girl. Tiny little nine-year-old girl lives in my neighborhood… with a glass eye. Scares the shit out of me. Terrifies me to my very core. Anytime she sees me, she just fucking chases me around. Until she gets her eye back. It is the worst… Now, that’s a fun joke for you guys, I’ll explain why. It’s got incredible value. It’s two laughs for the price of one. You get to laugh at what I said, which was hilarious. And then you get a second laugh when you picture me… …stealing a child’s glass eye. And most people when they picture it, they see me just running up and snatching it out of her head and running away. Wrong. You don’t want to just snatch out somebody’s glass eye. You know why? Because if you guess wrong… You guess wrong, now it’s not just a funny prank anymore. Now you’re in some trouble. In fact, that’s how she lost the eye in the first place. What you want to do, if you’re ever in this situation… …hit her on the back of the head, not hard. It’s a child, you don’t want to hurt it. Just hard enough to… get that sweet glass eye.

I find that the older that I get, the more women get upset when you talk about kids. I don’t mean joke about kids, I mean they get upset when the subject of children is brought up. Like, I have a friend who just found out she can’t have kids… according to Child Protective Services.

Hey, did you guys know… Did you guys know the average person eats nine spiders whenever I cook for them?

I don’t know if you guys know what a false premise is, but… I have this cat. I think it must have been a stray cat because anytime it gets outside, it immediately runs off, kills something, drags it back in, and leaves it at my feet. I’ve had this thing for, like, a month and I swear we have got… quite the competition going. I don’t even like cats, if I’m being honest. More a dog guy, me. I used to have a Great Dane. You guys know what a Great Dane is? One of those big, tall, skinny dogs. Marmaduke was a Great Dane, Scooby-Doo. They call them the “heartbreaker breed,” because they normally only live up to eight years, but with the right diet, exercise, attention… I got it down to four. It was great. It was the perfect college dog, it really was.

Oh, you think I can’t tell one more animal joke? Well, fuck you. Listen to this… When I was a little kid, I had a pet turtle. Tiny little turtle, kept him in an aquarium. Then one summer, I went away to camp. While I was gone at camp, the turtle died. When I got home, my dad lied to me. He said, “Anthony, your turtle is alive and well. It just went to go live with your mother.” And I believed that. Till a couple of days later, I was digging around in the backyard… found my mom’s body. Worst day of my life. I loved that turtle.

Now, listen. Look, guys. I know, I know, I am aware that I must seem like a tough, cold son of a bitch up here. In fact, the only time I’ve ever cried in public in my entire life was at my mom’s funeral. I might be a tough, cold son of a bitch, but that doesn’t mean I’m not also… one hell of an actor. My mom was a depressed woman. My mom was a very depressed woman. My mom was so depressed, she had the words “in case of an accident, please do not resuscitate” tattooed… across all of her children. I’d say my mom’s funeral was like ten, eleven years ago now. Last year, I had her body dug up… to settle a legal dispute with my siblings. Turns out I was wrong. That is illegal. – -You can’t just… You can’t just do that. No.

Now, at this point, I should admit my parents were actually pretty reasonable people when they were raising me. Unless they found drugs in my bedroom. Oof… Then they were high for days.

I think the strangest thing in my family, my family was just weird about sex, you know. I was the oldest of five kids in a tiny little house. When my parents wanted alone time, they would gather us together, say, “Kids, go play hide and seek,” and they’d lock their bedroom door for an hour. Of course, I always knew what was going on in there. I mean… I would hide in their room.

My parents were weird about sex, you know. I think the most embarrassed I’ve ever been in my entire life was the time my mom and dad caught me watching hardcore bondage pornography… over their shoulder.

And I’ll never forget… I’ll never forget the first time I had sex. You know those stories you hear, about kids who lose their virginity to the hot babysitter? I was the babysitter. Yeah, I could have opened with that if I wanted to.

I don’t like racism. Thank you. I don’t get it. Why would you hate? Why would you choose to hate? Why would you choose to hate an entire group of people, just because of the way they all behave? I don’t know about y’all. Seems pretty narrow-minded to me.

Now, racism, of course, is… starting to become a problem in this country. I was doing some research. Found out one of my family members used to own slaves. I couldn’t believe it. My own brother. I did even more research. Went even deeper into this bit, found this out. This is a fact. Do you guys know there are actually more slaves in the world today than at any other point in time? A higher number of slaves in the world right now than any other period in history. You think your job is bad? Imagine… counting slaves. If you’re not laughing at this one, I don’t know what the fuck to tell you. I’m not trying that joke out, I am showing off.

Now, I, of course, do not consider myself to be a racist person, but I get mad when people tell me that I can’t understand racism. I understand racism just fine. I once got beaten up by a pack of skinheads. Beat the shit out of me. I was in the hospital for a week, and it was a… a brutal initiation.

Now, we like to have fun. But in all seriousness, you do have to be very careful telling ironically racist jokes once you get to my level. When you’re a bad comedian, you can say whatever you want. I mean, that’s true freedom. You’ve seen those losers, they can fly. Once you get to my level, now you’ve got a responsibility, you know? Like, I once told an ironically racist joke on television. The next day, I got a fan letter from a white supremacist in Jacksonville, Florida. Bone-chilling. He just started praising me. “Thank you so much, Anthony. Thank you for not denigrating the great white race. Thank you for making fun of all the other races the way that it should be. And can I pay you $100,000, come down to Jacksonville, Florida, do a private show just for me and my white supremacist buddies.” I wrote him back right away. And I said, “Absolutely not. You are against every single thing that I stand for, you cheap piece of shit.”

Look, I mean, I consider myself to be a modern man. I try to be tolerant of all different races, cultures, religions. Not so much religions, but the other two for sure. But I’m not always at my best. Sometimes I make mistakes. For example, every single day… Every single day in Los Angeles, my Latino neighbor tries to talk to me. I don’t understand shit. Nine times out of ten, I am polite. I smile and I nod, but the other day, the other day, I was tired, I was hungover, I’d smoked some pot, I’d taken a handful of pills… …and I was not at my best. And I just snapped. And I said, “Hey, asshole. This is America. I don’t speak sign language.” Now, that… that… is a fun joke from me. You think I’m about to make fun of Latinos, I take a hard left. Smack the shit out of the deaf… …for almost no reason. Guys, things like that just make me happy.

There’s not a lot in life that always makes me happy. One thing, one thing that always makes me happy. I love it when I see this. I love it when old married couples… I love it when old married couples die really close together. I love that. I will clip that out of the newspaper every time I see it. To me, there is just nothing more romantic than a good old-fashioned murder-suicide. True. In fact… now that I’m saying this out loud, it’s probably more accurate just to say that I love murder-suicide. Because I do. I mean, don’t get me wrong, guys, I like all of the suicides. But murder-suicide’s my favorite. I have friends who worry about me. They’ll say, “Anthony, why are you so into suicide? You have everything.” Yeah. Everything but a successful suicide attempt. I think I got really into suicide just after college, when I worked at a suicide hotline. Just for a couple of days. Day and a half, really, they got rid of me pretty quick. They said, “Anthony, we’ve got to let you go. Half the people you talk to… …end up committing suicide.” I said, “Guys, that’s hardly fair. Most of those were wrong numbers.”

My point… My point here is this: that you should all trust me. You should all believe me when I tell you that I know my suicide and murder-suicide number one forever. ‘Cause what else you got? Doctor-assisted suicide? Get that weak shit out of here. Fucking kidding me? Teen suicide? Teen suicide? No. College is important. I’m all about… I’m all about murder-suicide. Murder-suicide’s the best. You guys seem like you don’t believe me. That’s okay. I’m a pro. Watch me sell this. You hear your friend Jeff just committed suicide. Your only thought is devastation. “Oh, my God, what could I have done to save my friend Jeff?” You hear your friend Jeff killed his wife and then himself. You just think, “Yikes, Jeff doesn’t fuck around, huh? Holy shit, Jeff! I didn’t know the big guy had it in him. Should have shown Jeff more respect back in the day. Jeff was a boss. He wasn’t cleaning that shit up.”

That… is just one reason… …why murder-suicide is so great. Guys, listen to me. Murder-suicide… is practically a victimless crime. You are… You are allowed to kill your wife. You are allowed to kill your husband. You’ve got to be married, otherwise you seem nuts, but… …you are allowed to murder your spouse, as long as you just kill yourself immediately afterwards. Then there’s nothing they can do. It’s even-steven, you’re above the law. What the fuck is wrong with this crowd tonight? You trying to tell me there are those among you who are still skeptical? You saying there are people here right now who still don’t believe me that murder-suicide is the goddamn cat’s pajamas? Okay. Then think about it like this. You’re walking down the street. Somebody comes up and punches you in the face. You are going to press charges no doubt. But if you’re walking down the street, somebody comes up, punches you in the face, takes a step back, and then punches themself in the face… -“Have a good day, sir.” Right? You wouldn’t even tell your friends about that. Murder-suicide… Shut up! Murder-suicide is a victimless crime as long as you don’t leave behind any kids. Got to kill them, too. That’s right, I was going there the whole time. Now, I am going to leave you all with this. And if you’ve been on the fence about me tonight, one way or another, then please, guys, please… allow me to knock you clean the fuck off.

A couple of months ago… A couple of months ago, I took a friend of mine to get an abortion. Get on board right now if you are going to. This is a very long, very true story. I took my friend to get an abortion. Don’t worry, guys, wasn’t my baby, wasn’t important. I don’t know if you’ve ever done that. Ever helped someone to get an abortion. It’s a big favor. It’s a big favor to do for somebody. Not an easy favor, not an easy favor at all. Don’t get me wrong, I am as pro-choice as they come, but still… the whole time I’m driving her, I’m just thinking to myself, “God damn. There has got to be a better way to… come up with new material.” And, yes, yes, I did just say I’m pro-choice. That does not mean I am pro-abortion. You have other options. If you don’t want your baby, you can still have your baby delivered. Leave it outside any fire station in the country… …they will run it over for you. It’s true. It’s true. It’s the law. Far as I’m concerned, they’ve been heroes since before 9/11. Fun little New York joke for you guys.

Now… Now people hear me tell this story and they always say the exact same thing, “Wow, Anthony, you’re a good friend. You would help someone like that, Anthony. You’re a good friend.” Fuck you. No, I’m not. I’m not a good friend. I’m a great friend. You know the difference? Great friends wake up at six in the morning. Great friends drive to your house. Great friends pick you up and then take you to get your abortion. Good friends… Good friends just babysit. Now, I have given this a lot of thought, a lot of thought. And I still don’t know if it had been my baby, would I have argued to keep it? I think about that saying they always use, you know, “What if your baby turns out to be a great artist someday?” I don’t need that competition. People ask me, “What was it like? What was it like to take your friend to get her abortion?” It was boring. I don’t know why I thought it was gonna be fun and exciting… …but trust me, the only person more disappointed than me that day was the baby, all right? It was so boring. It was just me by myself for two and a half hours in an abortion clinic waiting room bored out of my mind. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to an abortion clinic waiting room before, but… the magazines are not great. The whole place is filled with kids for some reason. I mean, I thought they were kids. Turns out they were just ghosts. -There’s a difference… …sort of, you know? Yeah, that’s the high point of the story. But I’m only halfway done. So I’m in this waiting room for so long and I’m so bored that after a while, my mind just starts to wander, and I start to think about my friend and what she’s going through behind those doors. And then almost immediately, I bring it back to myself. And I think, “Anthony, what are you going to say to her when she walks out of there? You should think of something nice to say. You should have a plan.” Because I’m not going to lie to you guys, I blew it when she walked in there. I didn’t have anything nice prepared, I didn’t have a plan. The doctor called her name, she stood up, turned around to look at me one last time and I panicked. I just went, “Um… “kill ’em in there.” I’m not proud of that, you know? I consider that to be a total failure. Worst part for sure was the fist bump, I know that now. And, yeah, she looked at me like I’m an asshole, but… who is she to judge? But now the pressure is on me. Think of something nice for when she walks out of there. But I’m not good at that. That’s not my specialty. Thinking up nice things to say to people in their time of need. The closest option I could come up with in my own mind was, “Hey, did you lose weight?” I know. I know. Look, I’m not proud of that either, okay? That is useless. I can’t say that to my friend. That is useless. Except for the fact that it made me laugh. And that’s when I realized I am chuckling to myself… …in the waiting room… …of an abortion clinic. I catch myself, I stop, I look up. I see a couple sitting straight across from me. The guy looks away in disgust like he wants to fight me. But the woman leans forward and goes, “Hey, Anthony, big fan.” Which I always appreciate. Never a bad time for that. Literally… …any trimester is good. Couple of minutes later, a nurse walks out, comes right up to me, hands me some paperwork and says, “Hey, are you here for Jessica’s abortion?” And at his point, I was so bored. I just stood up as fast as I could and said, “Wait! Don’t you mean ultrasound?” And then I laughed for quite some time. I mean, really threw my head back on that one. If you’re wondering about the nurse, don’t worry, she was a total pro, did not laugh at all.

So I got a little more time left in this waiting room, and it finally dawns on me, “Anthony, you’re just a terrible person. And you are never going to think of something nice to say to your friend. So why not just get her a present, get her a gift to make her feel better. That way, you don’t have to say anything.” But what do you get for someone who’s just had an abortion? I had no idea. So I Googled it. You can Google that. It worked. A website popped up and I’m glad I looked at it too. It really helped me out. ‘Cause my first thought, commemorative coin, does not exist. -Yeah. Turns out it’s actually never been a thing. I must have dreamed it. My second thought: flowers. Flowers are always good, right? No, not according to this website. This website said, “Do not get her flowers. Flowers are more of a romantic gesture, then she’s got to take them home, put them in water. Do not put her through that on this day.” According to this website, flowers are the worst gift you can get someone after they’ve just had an abortion. Now, I took that advice on the day. I still don’t think I believe it. I feel like we can all agree the worst gift you could get someone after they’ve just had an abortion would be a to-go box. Think of something worse and I’ll change the fucking joke. The answer is “to-go box.” That would be inappropriate. That would be a real bucket of cold water on abortion day. No.

According to this website, there’s only one gift. Only one gift is appropriate after someone has just had an abortion. And that is… a succulent. Do you know what a succulent is? ‘Cause I had to Google that shit too. If you don’t know, a succulent is a desert plant. It’s like a cactus, it’s a plant that doesn’t need water. It’s a plant that gets its nutrients from the air. Give her that. I said, “Absolutely not.” I would never do that to my friend Jessica. I would never be like, “Oh, here you go, Jessica. Here’s something else you never have to take care of.” I would never do that. What am I, a monster? So I didn’t get her anything. She eventually walked out from behind those doors. I didn’t give her anything, I didn’t say anything. I just stood up, I gave her a hug, helped her to the car, drove her home. I sat next to her on her couch, holding her while she cried. I was a great friend that day. Such a great friend that even hours later after she’d stopped crying, calmed down and forgotten about the whole thing forever… …I was still there next to her, writing down all these jokes. Now, my favorite part about having a true 15-minute story about taking my friend to get her abortion to end my shows with are the different reactions I get from the audience. Some people laugh, some people cringe, some people get visibly upset. And the truth is, guys, those are all the same to me. But the best reaction, my favorite reaction I’ve ever gotten from this story was just a couple of weeks ago. A woman in the back of the theater stands up very confidently and she screams out, “Excuse me. Excuse me, Anthony, but what the fuck is so funny about abortion?” And I said, “Lady, I just told you.”

Thank you very much, everyone. You’ve been a wonderful crowd.


6 thoughts on “Anthony Jeselnik: Fire in the Maternity Ward (2019) – Transcript”

  1. Dieter vonSchoenvortz

    BEST opening Joke EVER. That describes me and several of my friends’ future wives’ relationships perfectly.

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