Jim Gaffigan on Charlie Hebdo and the Comedic Allure of Fancy High-End Wristwatches
Jim Gaffigan is coming to Talking Stick Resort January 29 through 31.
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Comedian and author Jim Gaffigan has a lot on his plate (that's only sort of a food joke). Somehow between guest-hosting The Late Late Show, publishing his latest book, Food: a Love Story,, and raising five children, he managed to squeeze in a few minutes to speak with Jackalope Ranch by phone prior to his upcoming performances at Talking Stick Resort. Here's what he had to say.
Your family is clearly very important to you; your wife is your producer and co-writer, and you recently brought her and your five very adorable children with you to guest host the Late Late Show. Tell us about that experience. It was one of those opportunities that I just couldn't turn down. I thought it would be really funny, and a funny memory for them to have, me guest hosting and them being little bits [in the show]. But as we know there's an element of ickiness. My wife and I were talking about it last night.
It started where we had these shows every year in Milwaukee and I thought it would be so funny if they introduced me singing this Gaffigan song, so they would do that every year as kind of a lark. And then when I was offered the Late Late Show I really didn't have time to do it, but I said I would do it if I could bring my kids. It was MLK weekend and we wanted to get out of the cold. But this is definitely the last you'll see of my kids doing this on any of my shows, probably.
How does something go from just being a funny thought you have to being a joke to being performed as part of your act? I think a comedian kind of figures out their point of view on something. Once you have your point of view, you're honest with yourself about how you feel about it and what's your comedic take on [it]. But some of it is you find an idea, and you find a handle on it, which is why with some mundane topics it's kind of fun to make them funny. It's pinpointing your particular view on why you find something annoying.
I've been working on jokes on wearing a tie. It seems rather mundane, but if I can figure out what I don't like about it and articulate it in a funny way, that's the funny part of comedy.
There's something that will kind of gnaw at you -- I'll have something that might end up as a tweet, but then I might go on stage and kind of riff around it, and then it might turn into a bit.
I don't usually talk about this in interviews, but an initial idea I have is, you know those print ads for wristwatches? Really high-end wristwatches? I think those are silly, because it's just a picture of Leonardo DiCaprio wearing a watch. I just think there's something there. I haven't identified it yet. It's not just good-looking or successful people, there's this element of "these are wristwatches that cost thousands of dollars." I don't have a joke on it, but I think there's something interesting there.
In light of the Charlie Hebdo situation in France, do you feel that there are limitations to what people should make fun of? What are your personal limitations? As a comedian, I'm against any form of censorship. It's not even really a topic of discussion, I'm against any form of censorship. But it's also an individual thing. Being considered a "clean comic" or something like that, I've had to reflect on why I do the comedy I do. And really, why I do it is, it's just kind of how the stuff comes out. But also, we're kind of censoring ourselves.
We have this generic notion of what television network standards might be or radical examples of somebody drawing the Prophet or something like that, but everyone has their own individual form of censorship. We're even engaging in a sort of social norm over this conversation right now. I'm against any form of censorship, but I think everybody sort of engages in one anyway. Obviously when it comes to political criticism, we can't have any- anyone should say whatever they want.
Obviously, what I'm saying is, I'm a great guy.
Editor's Note: This post has been edited from its original version.
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