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

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in October

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in October

This month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
The 10 Brands That Built Pittsburgh

The 10 Brands That Built Pittsburgh

From glass and aluminum to ketchup and candy, Pittsburgh has made its mark, thanks in large part to the instantly recognizable brands that remain etched not merely on its buildings — but on its DNA. We look at 10 of those brands and explore how they helped to establish and define the Steel City.
Wheels Up? What's Next for PIT

Wheels Up? What's Next for PIT

Under a new CEO, Pittsburgh International Airport heads into its 25th year while attempting to woo flyers and flights and leave its empty, post-hub days behind.
Pittsburgh's Connection to an Out-of-This-World View of Space

Pittsburgh's Connection to an Out-of-This-World View of Space

Three men at NASA serve pivotal roles in maintaining the Hubble Space Telescope, which has been taking high-resolution photos of deep space for more than 25 years. And they're all from Pittsburgh.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

New Contract for PSO is a No Go

New Contract for PSO is a No Go

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra musicians vote to go on strike.
Strip District's Savoy Seeks to Refresh and Renew

Strip District's Savoy Seeks to Refresh and Renew

The restaurant debuts a new lounge and has plans for refocused menu and more.
Pittburgh’s Daya Dropping New Album, Headline Tour

Pittburgh’s Daya Dropping New Album, Headline Tour

The teen singing sensation from Mt. Lebanon’s tour concludes in Pittsburgh.
See it Now: Trailer for Filmed-in-Pittsburgh “Fences”

See it Now: Trailer for Filmed-in-Pittsburgh “Fences”

Directed and starring Denzel Washington, the first big screen treatment of August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play arrives in theaters on Christmas Day.

Sign Up for the 412 e-Newsletter

 

Our 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

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in October

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in October

This month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
The 10 Brands That Built Pittsburgh

The 10 Brands That Built Pittsburgh

From glass and aluminum to ketchup and candy, Pittsburgh has made its mark, thanks in large part to the instantly recognizable brands that remain etched not merely on its buildings — but on its DNA. We look at 10 of those brands and explore how they helped to establish and define the Steel City.
Wheels Up? What's Next for PIT

Wheels Up? What's Next for PIT

Under a new CEO, Pittsburgh International Airport heads into its 25th year while attempting to woo flyers and flights and leave its empty, post-hub days behind.
Pittsburgh's Connection to an Out-of-This-World View of Space

Pittsburgh's Connection to an Out-of-This-World View of Space

Three men at NASA serve pivotal roles in maintaining the Hubble Space Telescope, which has been taking high-resolution photos of deep space for more than 25 years. And they're all from Pittsburgh.
Dish Review: Bar Marco's Turnaround

Dish Review: Bar Marco's Turnaround

The Strip District eatery overcomes tumult and once again is one of Pittsburgh’s finest restaurants.
Talk of The Tahn: Weird Things We Do that Make Pittsburgh Wonderful

Talk of The Tahn: Weird Things We Do that Make Pittsburgh Wonderful

The things that are best about us? They’re not things. They’re ways.
Edit Module

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


New Contract for PSO is a No Go

New Contract for PSO is a No Go

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra musicians vote to go on strike.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

Kennywood Park opens soon and new this season is the return of the famed whale at the entrance of Noah’s Ark. In the name of science, PittGirl paid an early visit to test the squishiness quotient of the whale's all-important tongue.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
e2 to Close in Highland Park

e2 to Close in Highland Park

Chef/owner Kate Romane will move on to a new project.

Comments


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

6 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


Halloween Hotlist: 10 Events That Prove Scaring is Caring

Halloween Hotlist: 10 Events That Prove Scaring is Caring

Pittsburgh is a wicked destination for spooky shenanigans. Here’s a sampling of what’s to come.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Pirates’ Ship Sunk But Salvageable

Pirates’ Ship Sunk But Salvageable

Of all that conspired to derail the Pirates after three consecutive trips to the playoffs, the unanticipated implosions of Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano proved, in retrospect, to be more of a deal-breaker than anything else.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Green Chic: The Boxcar Planter Set

Green Chic: The Boxcar Planter Set

The geometric set is available through the hip Ace Hotel shop.

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.
Surprise: Deepwater Horizon is Quite Good

Surprise: Deepwater Horizon is Quite Good

Reviews of "Deepwater Horizon" and "Queen of Katwe," along with local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
A Laid-Back Love: Kelly McHolme and Bob Stasa

A Laid-Back Love: Kelly McHolme and Bob Stasa

This Pittsburgh couple wanted their guests to be just as content as they were at their wedding.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Make Your Design Work for You: Mecox Opens In Pittsburgh

Make Your Design Work for You: Mecox Opens In Pittsburgh

To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Mecox will be opening its eighth location, but its first in Pittsburgh, in Shadyside.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education

Thiel College to Break Ground on New Science Facility

The project will cost $4.5 million and will connect two previously existing structures.

Comments