King of Zing

This summer, Anthony Jeselnik returns to his hometown as comedy’s hottest young talent.


Photo courtesy of 92YTRIBECA.

In March, Comedy Central held a roast of Donald J. Trump, megalomaniacal mogul and birth certificate Inspector General. The roasters were a bizarre coterie of Trump’s famous friends (Larry King, Snoop Dogg and Marlee Matlin) and a stable of veteran insult comics (Jeff Ross and Lisa Lampanelli).

However, the new guy stole the show. In his first turn in the spotlight, Anthony Jeselnik, a young comic and Pittsburgh native, drew raucous laughter from the crowd and left the rest of the dais in stitches. Jeselnik was so raw that emcee Seth MacFarlane introduced him with the quip, “Tonight, Anthony Jeselnik is going to leave his stamp on the roast, and tomorrow, he’s going to use that stamp to buy food.”

Jeselnik grabbed the mic and immediately returned MacFarlane’s serve: “Wow, Seth MacFarlane, everybody! You know, at first I thought Seth was just famous for ‘Family Guy,’ but then I did some research … and he’s actually not famous at all.”

You can catch Jeselnik at the Pittsburgh Improv from June 30 to July 3 as he makes his first headlining appearance in his hometown.

Q+A

PM: What part of Pittsburgh are you from?

AJ: Upper St. Clair was my home for most of my time in Pittsburgh. Class of ’97.

Were you involved in the local comedy scene?

It didn’t occur to me to be a comedian when I was here. I didn’t know about the local scene.

So, what kind of influence did Pittsburgh have on your comedy, if at all?

There are a lot of Pittsburghers who now live in LA and are in the business, so being from Pittsburgh certainly helps. And I feel like I applied that blue-collar Pittsburgh work ethic to stand-up—you know, just put your head down and work, work, work.

Throughout the course of two years, you had three big achievements with Comedy Central: being named a breakout comedian, recording a 30-minute special and making your first album. What had the biggest impact on your career?

Definitely the album—because the album is my thing. Comedy Central has done hundreds [of specials] over the years; they kind of get lost in the shuffle a little bit. But the album really helped me. It was named comedy album of the year by Punchline Magazine, and getting a lot of critical raves about the album really helped me.

At the roast, you were a new comic in the lineup. Did that add any pressure?

I felt so much pressure that I couldn’t imagine anything being added to it. I wasn’t really worried about it being my first time—just about it being my time. I really prepared mentally to stand up and look calm while all this was going on.

How do you approach the idea of roasting someone, especially someone as prominent as Donald Trump?

It was pretty easy, and I’ve written for roasts before. But Donald Trump is synonymous with success—no matter how you feel about him as a person. So, he was the best possible roast target: someone who no one would feel bad for no matter what you said about him.

Pittsburgh can be a conservative place, and a lot of your comedy pushes boundaries. Do you ever worry about your family hearing it?

I was worried about what my parents would think when I first started doing comedy, but now, I feel that what I do is such an obvious character. If anyone actually thinks that I think these things, then it’s not even worth the time to try and explain it. And people I knew growing up know that it’s a joke more than people anywhere else. I worry less about Pittsburgh than most places.

 

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Goin' to the Chapel – Or Not?

Goin' to the Chapel – Or Not?

With so many options in and around the city, every couple can find the special space that feels just right — whether they’re looking for nature, rustic charm, fairytale romance, stained-glass beauty, treasured religious ritual or classic tradition.
Underground Pittsburgh: Explore our City of Tunnels

Underground Pittsburgh: Explore our City of Tunnels

Delve below the surface to explore the underground areas that serve as vital pathways to our region.
Kitchen Roots: Ruta, Solomonov and Ehland

Kitchen Roots: Ruta, Solomonov and Ehland

Chefs who grew up in Pittsburgh are shaping the culinary scene in other cities across the country — and gaining national recognition in the process.
Restaurant Review: Gaucho Parrilla Argentina is Smokin'

Restaurant Review: Gaucho Parrilla Argentina is Smokin'

The meat-centric restaurant in the Strip District is helping to redefine Pittsburgh's dining expectations.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Steelers' DeAngelo Williams Scores as Daughters' Hair Stylist

Steelers' DeAngelo Williams Scores as Daughters' Hair Stylist

In a pair of TV ads, watch the Steelers' running back tackle styling the hair of his two adorable daughters.
Greenlight for Girls Encourages Hands-On STEM Learning

Greenlight for Girls Encourages Hands-On STEM Learning

The international organization partnered with local materials science company Covestro to encourage scientific curiosity for girls.
Heinz Releases a ‘Wiener Stampede’ on The Super Bowl

Heinz Releases a ‘Wiener Stampede’ on The Super Bowl

Dozens of dachshunds wearing hot dog costumes star in what may be the cutest commercial this year.
Grove City College Team ‘Takes the Cake!’ on Cake Wars

Grove City College Team ‘Takes the Cake!’ on Cake Wars

Two former freshman roommates created a cake that was part sculpture, part spectacle to win $10,000 on the popular Food Network series.

Sign Up for the 412 e-Newsletter

 

Our new, daily e-newsletter is curated by the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine and is designed to give you the very best Pittsburgh has to offer -- delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign me up!
* Email
 First Name
 Last Name
  * = Required Field
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Goin' to the Chapel – Or Not?

Goin' to the Chapel – Or Not?

With so many options in and around the city, every couple can find the special space that feels just right — whether they’re looking for nature, rustic charm, fairytale romance, stained-glass beauty, treasured religious ritual or classic tradition.
Underground Pittsburgh: Explore our City of Tunnels

Underground Pittsburgh: Explore our City of Tunnels

Delve below the surface to explore the underground areas that serve as vital pathways to our region.
Kitchen Roots: Ruta, Solomonov and Ehland

Kitchen Roots: Ruta, Solomonov and Ehland

Chefs who grew up in Pittsburgh are shaping the culinary scene in other cities across the country — and gaining national recognition in the process.
Restaurant Review: Gaucho Parrilla Argentina is Smokin'

Restaurant Review: Gaucho Parrilla Argentina is Smokin'

The meat-centric restaurant in the Strip District is helping to redefine Pittsburgh's dining expectations.
Cranking Out Old School Valentines Sealed with a Quirk

Cranking Out Old School Valentines Sealed with a Quirk

In Lawrenceville, a love for letterpress leads to a business whose greeting cards reach audiences across the country.
Pittsburgh's Third Renaissance and Complaints from 2007

Pittsburgh's Third Renaissance and Complaints from 2007

This third Renaissance has allowed us to be spectators as Pittsburgh changed from a city suffering the damages wrought by the collapse of its steel industry to a vibrant, active place known for its academic, medical and technology sectors.

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Steelers' DeAngelo Williams Scores as Daughters' Hair Stylist

Steelers' DeAngelo Williams Scores as Daughters' Hair Stylist

In a pair of TV ads, watch the Steelers' running back tackle styling the hair of his two adorable daughters.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: Yikes! Imagine This Instead of a Fountain at the Point

PittGirl: Yikes! Imagine This Instead of a Fountain at the Point

City leaders considered many options for Pittsburgh's confluence including something that looked like it was designed by the Jetsons, or an absolutely bonkers, batpoop insane idea by the one and only Frank Lloyd Wright.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Wigle Whiskey Ripe for Expansion with Threadbare

Wigle Whiskey Ripe for Expansion with Threadbare

The Strip District distillers will launch a hard cider business this fall.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
7 Best Restaurants for College Students in Pittsburgh

7 Best Restaurants for College Students in Pittsburgh

Easy access from universities, wallet-friendly prices and really good food make these our favorite choices for the university set.

Comments


Head to 'Quick and Shameless' For an Unpredictable (and Essential) Night of Pittsburgh Comedy

Head to 'Quick and Shameless' For an Unpredictable (and Essential) Night of Pittsburgh Comedy

The LGBTQ-friendly variety show offers one of the city's most unusual (and often unforgettable) lineups of comedic talent.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
It's Simple This Time, Super Bowl 50 Won't Even be Close

It's Simple This Time, Super Bowl 50 Won't Even be Close

The Panthers are going to get to the Broncos eventually. When that happens, Peyton Manning is going to be forced to throw it. And once that happens, it’s going to get ugly.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Delicate Pieces for the Harsh Winter

Delicate Pieces for the Harsh Winter

Lighten up your look with a cheerful necklace.

Comments


Sean Collier's Popcorn for Dinner

The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
George Clooney, Jane Austen, Nicholas Sparks and Some Zombies Walk Into a Multiplex

George Clooney, Jane Austen, Nicholas Sparks and Some Zombies Walk Into a Multiplex

Our reviews of "Hail, Caesar!," "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" and "The Choice."

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Sugar and Spice: Cookie Table Contest Winners

Sugar and Spice: Cookie Table Contest Winners

Pittsburgh has it all: a beautiful skyline, breathtaking bridges and the most gorgeous cookie tables we’ve ever seen.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Pillow Talk: Pittsburgh's Skyline Inspires New Design Line

Pillow Talk: Pittsburgh's Skyline Inspires New Design Line

Check out the new pillow collection from local interior designer Zach Mitchell. Plus, get the scoop on The Pittsburgh Christmas Carol Tour.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Mock Crime Scene to be Held at Waynesburg University

Mock Crime Scene to be Held at Waynesburg University

The event is for high school students who are interested in criminal justice, law enforcement and forensic science.

Comments