You’re in the US as we speak, what are you doing over there? I just filmed an HBO special in New York. I am doing a one hour slot on HBO in the states at the moment. I think I’m the first Australian to do this. Last season Chris Rock and George Carling did it. This year it’s myself and Ricky Gervais, so it’s a pretty big deal. It’s not airing until May. Hopefully we will try to sell it to the Australian market, but we’ll see how it goes over here first.
You’re coming back to Oz now to do some shows. Are you looking forward to getting back home? This is the first time I’ve gigged in Australia for seven years, so I’m a bit nervous to be honest with you. If you do well overseas, you always wonder how you will get on in your hometown. I think that happens to most entertainers. My mum and dad will probably come to one of the gigs and it doesn’t matter how well I’m doing in London or New York, if I’m not doing well in Sydney, I’m not doing well anywhere.
Do you plan to do any travelling yourself when you’re back in Australia? I’ve never been to Melbourne before, but I’m off to do the Melbourne Comedy Festival there so I’ll have a nosey around. That will be my holiday. I think Sydney is the best city in the world. I grew up there but every time I go back I’m constantly amazed. I think, “fuck, I can’t believe I grew up here”. The last time I went back I went to the Great Barrier Reef and I thought that was unbelievable. That area of Cairns is great. That is a fun place.
You’ve toured all over the world, what is your favourite city? I like London, personally. It’s got the most diverse and largest crowds. Also it’s probably got the hippest comedy scene. Manchester is also great as I tend to pull the biggest crowds in Manchester. But that has more to do with a video clip of me getting punched in the head.
Tell me more… Well I already had a following there before, but now I have a proper cult following in Manchester. If I sell out in Manchester, I know I’m playing to a group of people who have already seen me before. They are very loyal. You can see the incident on YouTube and there is not much more to say. The guy never heckled, he just ran up on to the stage and started punching me on the head. I was surprised as anyone was. People often say, “why didn’t you fight back?” but the short answer is I had no idea I was in a fight. Either way, I’m not much of a fighter. I’ve had plenty of people threaten me before in comedy clubs. You have to understand that there are a lot of drunk people. You can’t know everybody in the rooms’ sensibilities and when you mix alcohol into the whole thing, it can get more heated than it should be. This has been my job pretty much all my adult life now so I’m used to it.
You’ve travelled all over the world. What three things would you not leave home without? A Sony PSP, because if you fly on as many planes as I do and if you’re going to places like Afghanistan or Iraq with all the soldiers, it can get very boring, very quickly. I’d also take a suit because you just never know when you might meet a nice girl you want to take for dinner. There’s no use turning up like your usual scumbag self. The final thing is a picture of my mum.
Any tricky situations in Afghanistan or Iraq? The most scary one was when we were on a Hercules aeroplane and they had to make an emergency landing because we were being fired on. I had my iPod in so I just thought that we were landing early. We landed in the middle of the desert and they all got out with their guns. It was quite exciting, but at the same time I was thinking this is no fucking game. I saw some fascinating things. I’ve been in Saddam Hussein’s palace and stayed in Uday Hussein’s palace which the army took over. I’ve seen some pretty fascinating things out there.
Speaking of fear… I hear you have a phobia of bananas? I don’t like being around bananas. If they are in a room, I walk out. It’s not like I’ll scream if I see one, but it’s a definite uneasiness that I carry around with me. If someone’s eating a banana and I’m on public transport, I’ll ask them to stop even if I don’t know them. Otherwise I just walk away, but if I can’t get away, either they stop or I start vomiting.
See Jim Jeffries at Comedy Store Sydney from now until 28 March (tix, from $15, and info at www.comedystore.com.au) and at the Melbourne Comedy Festival 2-26 April (tix and info at www.comedyfestival.com.au).