FX’s new comedy Legit has finally premiered, and American audiences are getting their first taste of a scripted Jim Jefferies. The Australian stand-up comedian co-created, writes, executive produces and stars in the series, which made its debut Jan. 17. The series allows him to bring his own unique brand of comedy to FX.
Peter O’Fallon, the man behind The Riches and Mysterious Ways, is Legit‘s other creator, and he explained during a recent conference call how he ended up working on the series. O’Fallon and FX President John Landgraf are close friends, and over a lunch O’Fallon had admitted to wanting to do “the comedy thing that [Landgraf’s] doing, particularly the Louie model.”
“At the time, he said go find me a comedian,” O’Fallon explained. “Then I went to my agency … and looked a whole bunch of different comedians and came up with Jim.”
Although he’s an experienced comedian, Legit is Jefferies’ first time acting. He said during the call that he’s “just winging it” on the show, but he has the benefit of having written all of the episodes based on his own life experiences. “I think I’ll take an acting lesson if I ever play a different character besides myself,” he said. “At the moment, I think I should be able to play myself alright.”
What’s interesting is that Legit is based on the truth — even its pilot episode about Jefferies taking a friend’s younger brother suffering from muscular dystrophy to a prostitute so he could lose his virginity. O’Fallon said it was that element of Jefferies’ stand-up that made him interested in creating a show with him.
“I said I think there is a pinprick of a heart in there,” O’Fallon recalled of Jefferies’ pitch. “One of the things Jim told me after he did this stand-up, particularly the muscular dystrophy — the thing about taking him to the hooker or the brothel — is that afterwards, parents, brothers and sisters, those kind of people would walk up to him and say, ‘How can I do that for my brother?'”
He continued, “For me, there was a kindness to this incredibly raw, incredibly abrasive and difficult humor, but at the core of it was a kind act — not necessarily heart but it was a nice thing to do to somebody. So in my mind, that’s what kind of sparked the idea for me of trying to balance the difference of this really dark humor with ultimately someone trying to do a nice thing.”
O’Fallon likes the idea that Legit shows “how close being selfless it is to being selfish,” but that at its core Legit is simply “about Jim trying to become legit.” He described each episode as a “mini-movie,” and said he likes that they all feel a bit separate. Jefferies added that FX never questions his jokes in the series, which has given him and O’Fallon the opportunity to experiment.
Fans have a variety of guest stars to look forward to during the rest of Legit‘s first season. Andy Dick, Marlon Waynans, John Ratzenberger, Verne Troyer, Brad Williams and Eddy Ifft are all among the actors who will guest star, and Jefferies and O’Fallon already have big plans for Season 2 if it gets picked up.
“If we go to a second season, I’ve got a few stories ready to go,” Jefferies said, adding that fans will get to meet his character’s parents at that point. “But it is odd. It’s like they say that when you know a person, you only know the tip of the iceberg and 90 percent of the iceberg is underwater. I think people know 90 percent of me and only 10 percent underwater. I haven’t held much back.”
Legit airs Thursdays at 10:30 ET/PT on FX.