Jim Gaffigan ('Beyond The Pale')
'Whiter Than White? Think Again!'
Jim Gaffigan is a true triple-threat having achieved major milestones in stand-up, acting and writing.
As a stand-up comedian, Jim’s clever, quiet style has earned him numerous appearances on both CBS’ “Late Show With David Letterman” and NBC’s “Late Night With Conan O’Brien.” His “Comedy Central Presents: Jim Gaffigan” half hour special remains one of the highest-rated for all stand-up specials on the network and he has been featured at HBO’s prestigious US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen and the world renowned Just For Laughs International Comedy Festival in Montreal.
In late 2004, Comedy Central Records added the CD/DVD 'Doing My Time' to Jim’s previously released comedy CDs, 'The Last Supper' and 'More Moo-Moo’s.' All are available on his website, noted below.
In the fall of 2005, Image Entertainment recorded Jim’s performance at the historic Vic Theater in Chicago for release as a DVD entitled Beyond The Pale. Comedy Central will debut Beyond The Pale as a prestigious One Hour Special on January 29, 2006 to support the release of the DVD on February 7, 2006. Comedy Central Records will also release Beyond The Pale as a CD on February 7.
I recently called Jim at his hotel in Florida, where he was performing for a Corporate get together, and first asked him why he hadn't gone under an assumed name for his hotel room? "I don't think that people are banging down the door to harass a doughy white guy! But who knows, maybe the Special will change that, but I doubt it! It's funny because my wife is always asking me what happens on the road? And I'm like, not much, ... really! I get some sleep and that's about it."
You currently describe yourself as ‘Bald, Blind and Pale’ … does this change year to year?! "It's one of those things where I think that I'm now in charge of all my recessive genes. I've somehow managed to inherit all of them: being bald, blind and pale. It really wouldn't surprise me if I woke up tomorrow with a tail! But it gets me free invitations into the Goth community!"
So, you use it to your advantage then? "I definitely use some of my appearance as kind of something to play off of, but some of that is more of a function of being self-aware, if you will. Because as a Comedian, when you go on stage the audience has a preconceived judgement of you. So, if you go up there with a British or an Australian accent they're gonna think you're smart! But, if I go up there as a doughy white guy they're gonna think that I'm a Polar Bear!"
No cursing on Beyond The Pale … is this a new you? "It's something that's a little personal thing that I've wanted to work on, honestly. Obviously I curse in my everyday life, but I think that when you curse in your act it's much easier to get a laugh. So, if you just add an F-Bomb to a joke, even if the joke's weak, people will be so excited and nervous and frazzled by it, that it will heighten the chance of the joke getting a laugh. I just didn't want my act to reply on what I feel is sometimes a crutch."
Where did the low, critical “audience” voice from your act first originate … and why?! "I think everyone has an inner monologue that they carry around. I remember I was talking to someone about this and I said 'Obviously everyone has a bunch of voices in their head'? And they were like, 'Er, no, not really!' So, for some of it I suppose I am crazy, but some of it is also; as a performer, you'll stand up there and you'll see the audience and so many things are unspoken from an audiences reaction. Some of it might be hypersensitivity to maybe somebody just having gas, but you'll try and still play it off the audience! It's also a great tool to keep the show really fresh."
Your love for cake seems to be a running theme in this DVD! You like your cake, d'ya?! "I love food, ... and I'm actually eating while I do this interview with you! I'm eating a cold omelet that was once hot this morning and is now cold. I wanna make sure that it reachs a level of disgusting before I enjoy it!"
Tell us more about your role in the new Sundance Film Festival movie, ‘Stephanie Daley’ "Yes, it actually got some decent reviews. I have not a huge part in it, but it's about a 16 year-old girl who gets pregnant and then when she has the baby she kills it. And then it's all about finding out if she was even aware that she was pregnant and if the baby was stillborn, and all that. I play the father, ... so really it's a laugh riot!"
And you have another movie also coming out? "Yeah, it's called 'The Great New Wonderful' that hopefully will be released in May in New York. That film deals with a year after 9-11. I play the character of Sandy who is a guy who is just completely detached from his emotions and is seeing a therapist."
And will we ever see the TNT pilot about hostage negotiators, ‘Talk To Me’? "Yeah, I did that in November and I think we're gonna find out in the next week if it gets picked up. It's one of those pilots where they go and test it, but yeah, it was a lot of fun. I got to play a cop!"
These days, are you more comfortable as an actor allowed many takes to get it right or as a Stand-Up comedian knowing there is no real safety net each night? "Gosh, that's a good question. Well, I guess I'm more comfortable, ... and this might sound like a dodge, but, well ... I think that the strange thing about Stand-Up is that it's this strange combination of control and no-control. So, when you're doing it you don't have to worry about being in some cramped space, with some strange light in your eye and your trying to remember your intention behind some theme, you know. I guess I do feel more comfortable doing Stand-Up, but the thing about acting is that I feel that I would go crazy if I didn't get to do a combination of both of them! Acting is just so rewarding. You can literally just hide in the character, which is so fun. There isn't that necessity to produce a laugh every second. You can let the situation be funny, as opposed to you being funny."
When you get to appear on shows like ‘Conan’ and ‘Letterman,’ how does that affect your standing in the media in the following days? "The weird thing is, and obviously the television business has changed so much, but I think that the reason that 'Conan' and 'Lettermen' are so great is because of these fanatical fans of the shows. So, afterwards there might be a dramatic increase at my website or I might get a bunch more friends at MySpace, but it's nothing super dramatic."
So, with all the time you’ve now spent in New York, have you become hardened to it or is part of you still a tourist?! "I think the weird thing is that I've lived there now for 15 years and occasionally I'll be on the subway and I'll see these tourists from Idaho. And I'll be like 'check out those people' ... and I then I'll realize that's exactly what I look like!"
Have there been times whilst doing your Stand-Up that you've bombed so bad that you just want to get the f**k out of there right mid-set?! "Yeah, there were a fair amount of those, but I try and block most of those out of my memory! They were mostly earlier days, but doing a corporate event like I'm doing down here in Orlando, it's always different. It's like when somebody knows your stuff it's an easier task. When you're in front of an audience that's NOT bombed, it's an easier task!"
What's one of your newest comedic takes on life? "I'm kinda consumed with inertia. It's like I'm always amazed at how you walk through an electric door and you feel a little bit empowered when you step and it opens. You're like, 'Well, I don’t mind if I do. Thank you electric doorman'!"
Finally, and coming full circle, just who the hell IS Jim Gaffigan?! "I'm just that white guy that you've seen on TV or in movies. I'm that guy that you saw. That one guy."
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
If you would like to win a brand new copy of Jim's latest CD/DVD AUTOGRAPHED by the man himself, just answer this easy question: Name the cartoon strip that Jim premiered on 'Conan' back in September of 2005?
Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these great new Beyond The Pale CD/DVDs AUTOGRAPHED by the man himself, Jim Gaffigan. Just send us an e:mail here before February 23rd with your answer and the subject title 'GAFFIGAN STUFF' to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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