Ear Full: Jim Gaffigan

In Pale We Trust

Jim Gaffigan’s ‘The America Tour’ comes to The 570


You may know comedian Jim Gaffigan from his stand-up specials, movies, television appearances, his recent run starring in That Championship Season on Broadway or one half of the animated crime fighting duo “Pale Force.” Gaffigan will visit the Diamond City on Thursday, July 26 bringing his stand-up show to the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts in Wilkes-Barre. Showtime is 7 p.m. We recently spoke with Gaffigan and he told us about evolving as a comedian, having his family tag along on tour and keeping his children protected from harmful UV rays.

Talk about your approach to comedy, whether it be stand up or acting.
It’s weird. I feel my approach is ever evolving. I write about things I love, things that I hate and things that are part of my life. I have four kids and I’m about to have my fifth, but I also don’t want to talk about just that because I was that 26-year-old that was starting stand-up and could never understand why a comedian would talk about something I couldn’t relate to. I remember that really being something that annoyed me when people would talk about their wives or their kids. What I love about stand up is that I feel as though I’m getting better at it the more I do it. For me it probably took ten years to even feel comfortable on stage. I’m at a point now where I feel like I’m really delving into different topics because I’ve exhausted every food topic in some way.

How is it having your wife as a writing partner?
That’s pretty strange, right? Having a writing partner in stand up is really a mess. There are legendary teams of (Mike) Nichols and (Elaine) May, Bob (Elliott) and Ray (Goulding), but it’s very unique. It’s almost as if I kind of brainwashed her to my comedic point of view and there is something great about having even just an editor. Stand-up is great because the audience is your editor. The absence of laughter communicates either it’s not funny or at least not clear. Having a partner provides a hidden weapon. There are times when I always have this ideal notion that I’m going to write every day, but that’s not the reality. There is nothing consistent about it, but obviously I love my wife and we have tons of kids, but my writing partner is always there. We used to be able to sit around and drink a glass of wine and talk about stand-up. That’s unrealistic when you have 8,000 kids, but we try to do it.

Do you bounce ideas off of her in everyday life and does she ever say, ‘No, not right now?’
Yeah. It’s very rude. The comparison would be the traditional notion of a husband trying to be intimate with his wife and she is saying “I have a headache.”

Do you prefer stand up or acting in movies and theater.
I prefer doing both. There is something indescribable about the immediate feedback you get from stand-up that you can’t get in any other form outside of a conversation. Stand-up is an art form; You are the writer, director, producer, and performer. I love acting but the process of auditioning is just so humiliating that I find it hard to even get motivated because there is such randomness to it.

I see that you will be on tour throughout most of the summer.
I’m going to be on a bus tour with all my kids and my wife. We get on the bus and we drive to a city and I do a show and then we get on the bus and drive to another city. I guess the reason behind it is that I don’t like being away from my kids. I’m envious of the generation that our fathers had where they could just make money and disappear and go play golf. I just feel guilty being away from my kids. I want to be present. I do want to be there for pickups and want to have dinner with them and that’s not because I’m a great guy; It’s because I don’t want to risk sucking at being a dad. Even if I do all this stuff, there is no guarantee that my kid is not going to be a serial killer.

Do you find yourself attempting to wrangle the kids together, trying to keep them out of the sun?
Oh my god! That’s what I do all summer. The whole summer is spent just keeping my kids covered in some white goo. I honestly don’t know how my ancestors survived. I don’t know how they were even living in Ireland on a plot of land growing potatoes unless they did it at night. I guess they weren’t as pale as me.

You often joke about your pale complexion. Do you use the jokes as a coping mechanism?
My children are too young to realize the crisis of being pale. Essentially, sunscreen to a little kid is like applying acid to their face. There is no way that it could be enjoyable to them. Then the kid doesn’t want to wear a hat and they want to swim and they don’t want to wear a sunshirt. When I was growing up, we didn’t have sunshirts. You would just have to die.
— tom graham

Jim Gaffigan performs at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday, July 26 at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at kirbycenter.org, by phone at 826-1100 or 1-800-745-3000, or the Kirby Center Box Office. Tickets are $39.75 and $49.75.

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