The “Thoughts and Prayers” comic shares some boozy tales from the road.
Comedian Anthony Jeselnik is good at two things: brutally honest comedy, and pounding booze. If you want to experience the former, you can check out his hilarious 2015 Netflix comedy special Thoughts and Prayers.
But to understand the depths, layers and extent of his beer and liquor-swilling, take a good hard look at the Q&A below. We get into it with the 37-year-old Pittsburgh native about what he sips when he’s touring – before, during and after his shows. By the end of this interview, you’ll probably feel the urge to bring him a glass of water.
“I got tanked at the end of the Oddball Comedy tour, where we finished in Texas. I decided in Austin I was going to drink Greyhounds. And I had so many of them that the next day was a wash.”
What cocktails top your list on the road?
When in New Orleans, a place I do for brunch is called Commander’s Palace. It’s an institution that’s been around since the 1880s. I order a Whiskey Smash [bourbon, syrup, lemon] and it’s the fuckin’ most refreshing drink and it feels like you took care of yourself real good. I like martinis when I’m in a steakhouse. Otherwise, I go vodka rocks or tequila straight because I don’t like bartenders messing up my drink. I used to drink gin and tonic, but sometimes they mess it up and it’s all disgusting. So I prefer to drink it like a man.
What’s your poison in terms of vodka and scotch?
With vodka, Grey Goose is my usual go-to, but Tito’s is good, and I also like Ketel One. With single malt scotch, I’ll also drop one ice cube into it, maybe a little water to cut it up. I like Talisker and Lagavulin. That’s really fine and expensive. I used to drink so much cheap booze back in my college days that now I’ve learned to drink the good stuff. If you drink great tequila, like Don Julio 1942, you cannot get hungover.
What about beers, what’s on tap for you?
When I slum it, I’m drinking Heinekens. They’re not the best beers but I enjoy the taste. I was a Yuengling guy for a while — America’s oldest brewery, Pottsville, PA, and it’s a big beer in New York. Or I’ll throw in an IPA every now and again.
How well does being on the road and booze mix for you?
[Laughs] I got tanked at the end of the Oddball Comedy tour, where we finished in Texas. I decided in Austin I was going to drink Greyhounds [vodka, grapefruit juice]. And I had so many of them that the next day was a wash. I’ve heard that grapefruit juice helps you stay hydrated but I also hear it doubles-down your stomach acid, so you wake up feeling more hungover. Oh god, I must’ve had ten maybe. At the end of the night, I’m saying, “I’m done.” And a waiter recognized me and brought me a double, and that was my Waterloo. “All right, I have to. I’m flattered I got recognized.” I never should’ve done that.
What’s your hangover remedy routine?
A little hair of the dog, a little marijuana hair of the dog. I woke up Sunday morning, popped back some Gatorade with a shot of Tito’s in it, and I drank that just to get in the shower. But I couldn’t hold down my oatmeal! But by the time I get on the stage that night, I’m kind of okay. Then the adrenalin kicks in. Then you can go back to drinking all night.
Does a little shot before the show help calm the nerves?
Yeah, I drink at shows, but I try to time it so I drink just before I go on. I used to drink like an hour before, and that’s just too much. Now, I wait till my opener is on, and I have a nice double-vodka rocks. Sometimes, if it’s going to be a fun show, I’ll have a cup of ice water. [Laughs] If I think this show might suck, a giant cup of vodka on the rocks works. Sometimes when I’m onstage people will ask what I’m drinking and I’ll say vodka, and they don’t believe me. But by the end when I’m barely getting through, they believe I’m drinking. They believe that’s vodka.
When has a shot or two done the opposite?
There was one night in Montreal at their comedy festival. It was a nasty show – three shows a night and eight of us doing ten-minute shows, so you really didn’t have to worry about anything. We were drinking the whole time, as they were giving us all these beers and stuff for free, and with the last show, I went onstage and went to say like, “Thank you, Montreal.” And I was slurring so badly, my tongue was so heavy, and the entire audience was talking to each other, and I’m going, “Oh, man, this is going to be a long ten minutes.” And it was, and I thought I can never do that again.