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People have feelings about Jim Jefferies, and you won’t find them anywhere near the middle. The standup-pugilist pulls no punch lines and takes gleeful swings at women, religion and politicians, saving the hardest hits for hypocrisy wherever he finds it (almost everywhere). He’s also known for handing out the C-word as liberally as, well, a raucous comedian from Australia. Some people find him hilariously honest; others don’t like having their ears boxed.

Though it’s likely inconceivable to those who know him from his standup specials, his original assault on our ears was supposed to be more mellifluous. He studied musical theater and performed with Opera Australia before vocal chord nodules sidelined his singing ambitions. He pursued another long-held ambition instead, trying open mic nights – not very successfully – as a 17-year-old. But by 23, he’d found a rhythm, a minor following and a spot as an opener for fellow Aussie Gary Who on a tour of Outback mining towns. He made a serious decision: “Fuck it, I’ll just be a comedian!”

Why not? If all you need is confidence, Jefferies had all he needed and then some, once telling a magazine interviewer that if he were gigging in biblical times, Jesus would’ve opened for him. (Thinking about it, that water-to-wine thing wouldn’t have sucked as a warm-up act.) Ironically, his confidence came largely from poking fun at himself; the humor that some perceived as misogyny came from his experiences of being dumped by every woman he ever dated.

And Jefferies has never written jokes for the amusement of any audience but himself. When they didn’t translate as quickly as he’d hoped in his own country, he went to the UK, then the U.S. and eventually almost everywhere else, constantly touring to bigger crowds and venues. His quick, ruthless and yet somehow jovial style found a following, helped by some unexpected (if not surprising) events. When a heckler attacked him on stage in Manchester in 2007, the clip went viral and became a part of his 2008 UK comedy special Contraband. An unintentionally well-timed comparison of gun control policy in Australia versus the U.S. in his 2014 special BARE was another viral sensation. Earlier this year, a profanity-laced outburst at Piers Morgan, a fellow guest on Bill Maher’s Real Time, sent him viral once more. When Morgan denied the president was attempting a Muslim ban, Jefferies shot back, “Oh, f— off. Hitler didn’t kill the Jews on the first day. He worked up to it.” All of it cements Jefferies’ rep as one of our most fearless comic voices, and one of our most intelligent, even if you have to listen around the swearing to hear it.

As Interrobang observed in its review of his 2016 special Freedumb, “His comedy, his stage presence, and his commentary on various political and social issues have all been finely honed like a high-quality blade, and holy shit does it cut deep. That’s because Jefferies’ style isn’t crass for the sake of being crass: it is, in its own way, an ode to free speech and the ability to joke about anything, regardless of whether some might deem it in poor taste. Jefferies is going to straightforwardly and very plainly hit every topic that his heart desires, critics be damned.” Of those critics, Jefferies says, “I do enjoy people who write in letters of hate or storm out of my shows – there’s something about me that thinks that that’s when I’m doing my job right.”

Many people thought he was doing his job right on his two-season FX series Legit, which – if still seeped in debauchery – portrayed (and commendably, employed) disabled actors in a very human way. Not the canonized or pitiable characterizations we often see, they were part of the jokes – not the butt of them. Jefferies wrote and starred in Legit, and would like to do more acting, though as a guy who’s described himself as “just a bit too good looking to be a character actor but not good looking enough to be a leading man,” knows he’ll have the best shot by writing his roles himself.

It’s been a decade since he took that punch on stage in Manchester, and his humor has evolved with his life, which now includes a son and a bit more stability. But only to a certain extent; install a filter between his brain and his mouth, and you don’t have the same product. And that product is in demand, most recently from Comedy Central, which ordered 10 half-hour episodes of The Jim Jefferies Show, a late night series in which Jefferies will travel the world to serve up the week’s top stories and most controversial issues with generous helpings of his own opinion.

Even the only career Jefferies says he’s cut out for doesn’t escape his ridicule (why would it?). In a 2015 interview, he mused, “What I always found weird about standup comedy is that people seem to listen to us sometimes like we’re prophets, like we’re the ones speaking truth about society – we’re a bunch of fucking morons who didn’t go to university and have no real education giving half-baked ideas… Comedians are really the last people you should listen to.” Maybe, if you can’t take a punch. But given our choices – the internet? politicians? dogma? – we’ll take our chances.