Jim Gaffigan is a puffy, pasty comedian from Indiana that has been a mainstay in the comedy club and late night circuit for some time. You might recognize him from his commercial and acting work (he was a regular on That Seventies Show for a few seasons).
While other comedians might inject some aspect of food anecdote into their act — such as Eddie Murphy’s bit on McDonald’s in Raw — few “pepper” (get it?) their routine with the sheer number of sustained food references that Gaffigan “seasons”(!) his act with.
Perhaps it’s his modest, mid-western roots that positions Gaffigan well in this regard. He is the everyman, toiling in the mundane, and thus possesses a unique vantage point from which to wryly sink his teeth (ok, that’s it, I promise) into what you and I consider perfunctory and banal, such as the erstwhile Hot Pocket. This supermarket frozen aisle staple can form the crux of almost one fifth of his act, and it’s Gaffigan’s most famous bit. He’ll randomly interject the trademark commercial jingle (“Hot Pocket!”) and various, contextual permutations therein (“Diarrhea Pocket!”) throughout his astute observations on America’s popular microwaveable stuffed pastry (“There’s a vegetarian hot pocket for those who don’t eat meat but still would like diarrhea”).
Gaffigan reserves much of his derision for his stereotypical American brethren, including the lazy Fat American. He calls us out for the peculiar national holidays that revolve around gorging ourselves, such as Thanksgiving (“Let’s eat too much. But we do that everyday! Let’s do it with people who annoy us.”) and the Fourth of July (“I’m going to eat a burger AND a brat.”). Gaffigan effortlessly alternates between his on-stage persona and that of an incensed audience member having a running imaginary conversation with his/herself, a seeming prude so easily offended by the pasty bumpkin on stage and his incendiary ramblings that he/she would exclaim — with a tone that implies an incredulous case of the vapors — “But I like Hot Pockets, mister! They’re delicious.”
He has a keen ability to effortlessly expand upon the absurdity of the mundane (“Pie can’t compete with cake. Put candles in a cake, it’s a birthday cake; put candles in a pie…and someone’s drunk in the kitchen.”)
The subject of meat is given its just due (“Steak is like the tuxedo of meat…and bologna is the retarded cousin”) and Gaffigan pokes his fun at vegetarians (“I’m not a strict vegetarian, I eat beef and pork. And chicken. But not fish, that’s disgusting.”)
(Vegetarians will brag…)“I haven’t had meat in 5 years.” I haven’t had a banana in month – you don’t see me bragging. I love animals, I just like eating them more. Fun to pet, better to chew.
Jim Gaffigan will be at the Arlene Schnitzer Hall in Portland the evening of Friday, November 2. A second show has been added, so he will be performing twice in one night (7 and 10pm). Ticketmaster won’t allow me to purchase any tickets, so if anybody wants to give me a ticket, or if Mr. Gaffigan himself would like to put me on the guest list in exchange for effusive praise on this blog, I welcome the gesture.