Jim Gaffigan talks about his new stand-up special, food and much more
Jim Gaffigan has been making us laugh for years now, whether it be with his stand-up comedy or film work or TV shows like his own Pale Force show or his role on the hit TBS series My Boys. Gaffigan will be bringing the laughs back to the stand-up stage once again, with his brand new Comedy Central stand-up special Jim Gaffigan: King Baby, which will air on Comedy Central on Sunday, March 29 at 9 PM ET and will come to DVD two days later on March 31. I had the chance to speak with Gaffigan over the phone about this new special, and here's what he had to say.
I don't normally get to interview stand-up comedians and I'm always curious as to what goes into the naming of a comedy special, so can you talk a little about the title King Baby and how that came to be?
Jim Gaffigan: Well, I think there are a lot of comedy specials that are in your face, smashing a baby kind of thing. My comedy is not like that. I actually just did a YouTube video, making light of how I'm the opposite of all that. King Baby really kind of came from an inside joke between my wife and I. She would kind of spoil me and I kind of look like a gigantic oversized baby and I would be like, 'I'm the king of babies.' Of course, this was before we had kids and now I'm considered the least popular baby.
Of course. So the show was filmed at the end of your tour in Austin, TX, so what made you choose Austin for this special and how did it all come about?
Jim Gaffigan: Well, some of it is we had the tour and we were trying to pick a city and I wish there was some scientific or perfect reason. Austin is obviously a city that has a rich live performance heritage. It's a fun city and a great theater. The Paramount Theater is, as a performer, there are certain venues you go into and they're great. It's like a nice hotel room, like you're only there for a night or a couple of nights. I don't know. I almost always intentionally don't tape my specials in New York or L.A. because in New York or L.A. people are like, 'Really? Another special? Oh great.' In other cities, like I did my first one in Chicago, it's not as much taken for granted.
With a special like this, with the audience knowing ahead of time, does that bring anything different to the show, as opposed to just a normal show in Austin?
Jim Gaffigan: Well, honestly, I feel like doing a show or seeing a show in a theater, kind of enhances the whole thing. Then a TV special, there's definitely a certain energy in there and also there are crowd shots, so people are a little bit excited that they might end up on the special or the DVD. So it's always fun in that way.
You're one of the cleanest comics out there, in terms of language. Was that something that you had always decided on doing, early on in your career and do you think that helps you set yourself apart from other comedians?
Jim Gaffigan: I feel like stand-ups do what they do and once you do stand-up for like 10 years, there are different things and certain challenges that keep you motivated. For me, I obviously curse in everyday life and some of my favorite comedians were pretty filthy. For me, when I did curse, this is going back like five years ago, it always seemed like I was cursing, like if I had a "f&ck" in there, it always felt like I wasn't done with a joke. Every comedian will admit that if you throw a "f&ck" in there, it's going to get a big laugh. Some of the topics I talk about, most of the topics I talk about it, you know, if you're cursing about camping or escalators, there's something wrong. It's a bunch of factors that kind of came together. I always love when people bring up that I'm clean and them at the meet-and-greet would say, 'I didn't even realize it was clean.' I think, hopefully, that people will come to it because it's funny and not just because it doesn't have curse words in it.
You seem to enjoy doing bits about food items and in this special you talk about bacon and bologna and, of course, there is the Hot Pockets bit. Where did that aspect of your routine come from?
Jim Gaffigan: I definitely write about things that are universal, that everyone can identify with. You're supposed to write about things you're passionate about and I guess I am a foodie. I do love food and it's kind of like I'm an eccentric observationalist guy. To make it kind of universal, I try a lot of different things. When I first started writing this, I was like, 'No food.' Then, you know, it just always goes there.
You talked a little bit earlier about some of the dirtier comics you enjoyed, so what were some of the comics that really inspired you to start doing stand-up?
Jim Gaffigan: Oh, Carlin was definitely a genius but the big influences, I think, were David Letterman, Bill Murray, this kind of sardonic, nihilistic but accessible point of view on things. You're talking to me after doing this for 18 years and it's like, 'Am I seeing someone? Or should I be seeing someone?' It all gets kind of blurry. Some of it was I was a class clown and there are definitely some comics that had a huge influence over me. My writing I would say is definitely Carlin and Dave Attell was a big influence, for really kind of getting to the joke instead of just blathering up there. I look at someone like Louis C.K. or Greg Giraldo who are really kind of insane. Todd Glass and Ian Bagg, I think are really funny. These are the names you know, but they're really funny.
The special is airing on Comedy Central and they have kind of a knack for making these sketch variety shows with stand-up comics. Will there be anything like The Jim Gaffigan Show in the future, perhaps?
Jim Gaffigan: Well, I wouldn't rule anything out. If I would do another TV show, I would definitely want a lot more influence. TV is like this strange world with tons of shows. I've had a great time on certain shows like Ed and I've been on popular shows. I definitely would want a lot more control, I think. It's kind of hard coming from stand-up where you write and produce and direct and perform and then, being the hired gun, it's kind of like, 'I know that's not going to work, but I'm hired to do it, so I'll do it.' The way Sarah (Silverman) did it, or Flight of the Conchords, I could definitely see myself doing something like that. I just want to do something good, you know.
You have Ten Stories Tall and Away We Go coming up pretty soon, so is there anything you can tell us about those or is there anything else you have in development?
Jim Gaffigan: I love some of the characters I've played in Ten Stories Tall and Away We Go. I have a small part in 17 Again. What's amazing about doing movies, compared to television, there's an ending you can see. There's an enthusiasm to it. Away We Go, I mean, that was just an amazing experience with Sam Mendes, working with Allison Janney and John (Krasinski) and Maya (Rudolph). It's been a really sweet spot. I couldn't go to a screening, but I saw a trailer and all my agents were saying it's an amazing movie. Movies like Ten Stories Tall, these indies that might not go anywhere, I just love. Someone's passionately behind the project, they write and scrounge up the money and it's just so fun to get out there. It's fun. It's really a great experience to do stuff like that.
Excellent. So, finally, Jim Gaffigan: King Baby airs on Comedy Central on the 29th, with the DVD a few days later, so for those who might not have seen your act before, what would you like to say to get them to tune in or pick up the DVD?
Jim Gaffigan: I would say that this special is going to change the world. This special is going to solve the economic crisis and bring peace to the Middle East.
Wow. That's ambitious. Well, that's about all I have for you, Jim. Thanks so much for your time and the best of luck with you future projects.
Jim Gaffigan: Thanks a lot. Bye.
Be sure to catch the hilarious Jim Gaffigan in his new stand-up special, Jim Gaffigan: King Baby, which will air on Sunday March 29 at 9 PM ET on Comedy Central or you can pick it up on DVD with all the bonus goodies on March 31.