To take a little personal tangent here: The first time I played a big club in New York City it was to “open” for Jim Gaffigan. Of course by open I mean be one of several comedians doing a small amount of time before Gaffigan owned the stage.
I’m 100% sure he wasn’t even in the building when I was on stage but for a young comedian it felt pretty good. This happened right after Gaffigan’s first album was released and the whole world seemed to be doing one or more of his bits around the watercooler. This gave me a feeling of dedication to the comedian who logically had nothing to do with my setting foot in that club, but somehow became a guy who reached down and gave me a hand up, at least in my head. I bet if you mentioned my name to him today he wouldn’t have any clue who the hell I am. Still I’ve followed his career because he was the first big name I ever played under, and I will continue to follow him for as long as comedy is still a thing.
One of the reasons I took my time with this review is because I didn’t want to be too emotionally involved in it. I loved this album, and I really see greatness here, but I also love Gaffigan and I wanted to make sure I look at it with critical, objective eyes. Almost a month after my first viewing I really think this is great work, and I suggest this as a MUST buy before the end of the year (and a perfect stocking-stuffer; it’s never too early to start your Holiday shopping!). So lets review:
Listening to this album I realized how technically perfect Gaffigan is on stage. He does 75 minutes of comedy that seem to flow organically from the top of his head and are very relatable.. There is nothing “joke-y” about these jokes, even when Gaffigan is going back to the style that made him famous it seems natural and that’s amazing. I’ll admit he had me at “hello” when, after coming to stage and speaking a line in his famous “audience interaction” voice he immediately says “Oh he’s doing that voice already…” to huge applause and a great start.
Gaffigan does a good job of playing to his strengths. Sequences of jokes about Subway and McDonald’s use the same weapons as his famous Hot Pocket and Mexican Food jokes but in different fun ways. He knows his audience and gives them what they want, but doesn’t seem to push away new viewers. Here’s that McDonalds bit:
There is something about Gaffigan that hides his message well, and you don’t realize until second or third watchings that he’s actually preaching about something. He examines a slightly over-critical and judgmental culture while getting just enough of the paint on himself to avoid being preachy.
Gaffigan is a master of the craft and this album is right up there with his best.
Grab it on his website as he donates some of the money to help veterans and Amazon.com doesn’t.
“He ended the article with ‘rock.’ Does he want me to rock? Does he think I’m a rock? I don’t get it. I think I’ll go get another Hot Pocket.”