Eddie Ifft has been both pissing people off and making people laugh his whole life. After a string of dead end jobs, including being 'asked to leave' his father's own insurance company, it was only then did Ifft step onto the stage at an open mic night in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, to see what "two double gin and tonics…a lot of childhood insecurity" and his gift-of-the-controversial gab could do.
The USA has been a popular topic to pick on for comedians worldwide and Ifft has no reservations in using his homeland as the butt of many jokes. In 2005, he began filming a documentary entitled America The Punchline, Ifft took himself off around the world and documented everything Americans did not want to hear; what the rest of the world had to say about them. Though the film was finally released in 2008, five years on and he still feels as though not much has changed. "It's not much better," Ifft explained, "We are still up to our old shit. A lot of people hated Bush, so at least that's changed. We are still gluttonous, obese, loud and obnoxious."
Honing in a little closer to home, Ifft's sarcastic tongue often takes pleasure in whipping out at his family and the quirks of Pittsburgh, the town he grew up in and the only place who's reaction he has been genuinely surprised by. "I expected a major home coming. But instead I got into a fight on stage the last time I was home. Get this…for making fun of the Titanic." And his family? He tends to receive more mixed emotions. "Weirdly my mother enjoys it when she is included in my jokes." Ifft's father however is not such a big fan of his son's tendency to embellish.
"I have found that everything needs to be discussed. That's how I deal with tragedy." When Ifft makes a claim that he will joke about anything, he really means it. 'Titty-fucking', condom-hungry dogs and even sexual encounters with a grandmother are all subjects that Ifft has touched on, taking delight in making people laugh and squirm in their seat at the same time. "I think making people laugh is easy. The challenge is to make people laugh at the things they know they shouldn't."
Ifft now bases himself in Venice Beach, California, however having lived in London for six years, and spending half of his time in Australia, he defines himself as more of a gypsy. This nomad lifestyle just may explain the ease in which he finds himself in undesirable situations; further inspiration behind his material. Ifft declares that he does not write jokes, but rather lives them, and when questioned about how he has managed to get himself into the awkward spots he jests about, he has no idea. "If I knew, I would be a psychiatrist and not a comedian."
Despite his love of speaking a little too freely, when I asked Ifft about the abuse of comedy as an opinion-sharing platform, he insisted he worked hard at ensuring he was not one to take advantage. "I have to be careful not to do it. Everyone wants their opinion heard but then you always have to remember that you are a comedian and it's the joke that is important."
Over the last few years, since his first comic appearances in 2004, Ifft has found his relationship with Australian audiences to be a special one, explaining that it's because he's "a bit of a novelty".
"Aussie audiences find me different. I have fallen in love with Oz. I think the people genuinely see that and appreciate it."
In February this year Ifft released his first live DVD, the appropriately titled Live -, the taping of a sold-out show at the Sydney Opera House in 2007. However Ifft is not one to remain stagnant for too long and starting next week in Melbourne, on at the Comic's Lounge, Ifft begins another Australian tour, where his Sydney shows will be the location for his second DVD.
Though Ifft has been touted as America's dirtiest comedian, his humour extends far beyond that. His sarcastic streak is frustrating and will you hate yourself for laughing, but he is endearingly self-deprecating, refreshingly brash and you will keep laughing nonetheless.
BY ALEXANDRA DUGUID
Eddie Ifft performs at The Comic's Lounge on Monday November 21. Tickets via thecomicslounge.com.au