In October, several local comics and a surprised crowd of guests at Hyena's Comedy Nightclub in Dallas got to watch a 20-minute set from the comedian and host of Comedy Central's The Jim Jefferies Show. The occasion? Jefferies was in town to shoot an interview with Dallas Mavericks owner and possible presidential candidate Mark Cuban.
Hyena's owner, Randy Butler, says Jefferies texted him the night before his surprise appearance Oct. 19 to ask if he could do a short set during former Saturday Night Live comedian Jon Rudnitsky's headlining show. Jefferies needed to test some new material for an upcoming performance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and remembered Butler and the club from his many years as a road comic.
Butler says he also told 10 or 15 local comedians that Jefferies would be onstage that Thursday night. Jefferies put on a good set and spent some time after the show with the local comics, including Dan Danzy, who opened for Rudnitsky.
"I had already calmed myself down the night before because I was a huge fan of the headliner, Jon Rudnitsky," Danzy says. "Then at about 2 p.m., I got a call from the comic who was working the door at Hyena's that night, who told me about Jim Jefferies, and I just had a panic attack. Until I had to walk out the door, I was just panicking."
Comedian Ryan Perrio was also in the crowd that night. He says he enjoyed watching Jefferies perform and seeing the audience react to him.
"He did about 20-30 minutes, and it was awesome because it was a surprise and nobody in the audience knew that that was happening,"
The show didn't end when Jefferies walked off Hyena's main stage.
Butler says they talked about other celebrities Jefferies had met, such as Russell Crowe; the interview he had just taped with Cuban; and how "having a kid changed his life and how he doesn't do as much work because he wants to spend time with his son."
"He dug it," Butler says. "He held court outside, and they all smoked their cigarettes for two or three hours and just told stories and [he] gave them all advice. He was just great, as usual, and really great with all the guys."
Jefferies also helped the local comics fine-tune their material. Danzy recalls an awkward moment where he went out for a cigarette, thinking Jefferies had already left. He found himself "at that point where I can't turn around and run away because I'm in his sight and I've got to have a cigarette.
"He and I talked, and he saw some of my material and he gave me some pointers for my jokes that I didn't think needed pointers," Danzy says. "I thought they were solid jokes, and he saw holes in them that I hadn't even seen and stuff."
Danzy says he tried out Jefferies' tweaks, including a small pause and a different facial expression, during his set the following night while opening for Rudnitsky and earned an applause break.
"He's a very down-to-earth guy and hilarious," Danzy says. "He just knows how to make everyone around him laugh."