Comedian Anthony Jeselnik’s style of humor can be summed up as I’m going to think of the most horrible thing and make it funny. The man is a comedian’s comedian. While that august title is typically reserved for talented jokesmiths who aren’t successful, Jeselnik is. He’s been able to thread the needle. He doesn’t compromise his art.
The following clip is from Jesilnik’s 2015 special Thoughts and Prayers. It’s a somber story focusing on his grandmother and the Bible. He was hip-deep in a personal crisis, and learned an important lesson about faith and paying it forward.
I love my grandma, loved her very much. My grandma taught me a lot. She told me about religion. Told me everything you can know about religion.
One quick story I’ll tell you now. When I graduated from high school my grandma came to me, gave me a big hug. “Anthony, I’m so proud of you. You’re my first grandchild to get to go to college. What can I do for you? What can I give you before you go to college?”
“I said honestly, grandma, all I need from you is money. Yeah, I know you guys have never been, but college is expensive.”
My grandma said. “OK, Anthony, I understand.”
So a couple of months ago, by the end of the summer, I’m packing up my dad’s car, getting ready to go to school. And my grandma walks up, and says “Anthony, here before you leave, take this.” She handed me a brand new Bible — King James version.
I said, “Thanks, Grandma. That’s exactly what we talked about.”
I got in the car and I went off to school. A couple of weeks go by, I’m hanging out in my dorm room, having a good time. When the phone rings. It’s my grandma. “Anthony, just calling to see how college is going?”
“Grandma, college is the best? I’m having the time of my life, but to be honest. I’m already starting to run low on money. And I could use a little bit like we talked about.”
She said, “OK, Anthony. Well, let me ask you this. Have you been reading your Bible?” And I said, “Totally, grandma, I’m on chapter 4.”
She said, “OK, Anthony, well then I guess I’ll talk to you later,” and hung up the phone.
A couple of months go by now I’m really starting to struggle financially. I’m going to have to drop out of school if I don’t get some money. So I call my grandma in a panic. I said, “Grandma, please, it’s Anthony. I’m having the time of my life in college. I love it here. But if I wanna graduate, and I do, I need you to send me some money like we talked about.”
“Well, Anthony, let me ask you this. Have you been reading your Bible?” And I said, “Yes, Grandma, I wish it was longer.
She said, “OK, Anthony. Well, then I guess I’ll talk to you later.”
Finally, it’s the end of the school year. I’ve got straight A’s, but I’m dropping out of college because I have no more money left and I’m furious. I’m close to tears cleaning out my dorm room. When the phone rings. It’s my grandma. “Anthony heard you’re dropping out of school today. How come?”
I said, “You know *** **** well how come, grandma? Because you wouldn’t give me any money.”
She said, “Well, Anthony, let me ask you this. Did you read your Bible?” and I just hung up the phone. I was so ****** ***.
I took everything out of that room. Last thing I took off the shelf. The last thing I took out of that room. Was that Bible my grandma gave me? Took it off the shelf. Held at my hands and for the first time I actually opened it up. And right there on the very first page and my grandmother’s handwriting. It said, “**** you.”
If you’re interested in seeing another funny video, check out comedian Taylor Tomlinson talking about her religious dad.
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