After brief flirtations with VOD and Amazon Prime Video, comedian Jim Gaffigan has returned to Netflix for his latest hour of stand-up, which is his sixth special available on the streaming giant. But that’s not what makes him a comedy freak. That’s just his inner voice mocking him and the others again. Correct?!
JIM GAFFIGAN: COMEDY MONSTER: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
The essence: For Gaffigan’s return to Netflix, the comedian-actor takes the comedy club aesthetic (brick wall and piano) and brings it to a much larger stage in Minneapolis.
Will you joke about the pandemic? Yes.
Will you use your inner voice to express your self-awareness? Of course!
Will you also find some everyday aspects of our life, despite the pandemic, and will you delve into its premises to tell us what makes them ridiculous? You know it.
What comedy specials will it remind you of ?: More likable than Jerry Seinfeld but far less physical than Brian Regan, that’s the lane of the observation comedy that Gaffigan travels.
Memorable jokes: If the pandemic means the end of parades, what does this mean for marching bands?
Gaffigan answers that question by drawing on the history of marching bands from when they first led armies to war to the point where he wonders if they will fight him over his pranks. He’s never been self-deprecating, willing to poke fun at himself, in this hour about all the people or even non-people that fans suggest look like him. He’s also still a devout Catholic, but he’s willing to joke about his faith as much as anyone else. There are more aside about the nature of motorcyclists and cyclists, society’s prejudices towards attractive people, and, as always, some good-natured jokes about being married and having five children.
Our Take: There is something in his opening line, after thanking the audience that he hits a little harder this week. “Do you remember when we thought the pandemic was over?”
Many comedians are joking about the pandemic. How can they not? The masks, the regulations, the various safety precautions. Gaffigan covers those areas, but he also reminds us that the biggest surprise of the last two years has been realizing how many crazy people live among us. “It was like a gender reveal for the madness.” It’s one thing to befriend someone who thinks Bigfoot is real; quite another if you think that Tom Hanks eats babies. Gaffigan will keep the first and leave the second. Sorry, Q.
For a long time, too many people grouped Gaffigan into a category called “clean comedy” just because he hardly seemed to swear on stage and because he spoke openly of his faith. Some fans only realized he had an advantage after Trump became president, when Gaffigan’s Twitter feed got more candid.
But he has always had a bit of an advantage. Just go back to your comparison of the tabloid news to the junk food in your 2012 McDonald’s routine. Lord universe. Or take your trademark conceit of the inner voice that speaks behind your back, like a ventriloquist’s dummy serving you harsh truths about the jokes you’ve just told. There has always been so much more to him than just jokes about his laziness, his love of food, or his pale skin. You just had to be paying attention.
The hardest edges tend to emerge at this time between the longest bits.
The hardest? Describing a family trip to Hawaii and how much it stands out, even among tourists, Gaffigan gets a standing ovation for the sunburns, some laughs about zip-lining and snorkeling, but he also has this replica of the Native Hawaiians who They tell the American tourists who stole the islands: “I don’t know how to tell you, but we stole all the land.”
He has a slightly lighter touch on billionaires who don’t pay taxes, while at the same time conveying his political points with a simple question: “Who is your favorite astronaut pretending to be a billionaire?”
And he points out how Instagram legitimizes harassment and creepy behavior, which almost got you in a ton of trouble in real life. Fortunately, the only really creepy thing about Gaffigan is still that inner voice of his.
Our calling: STREAM IT.
Sean L. McCarthy works the rhythm of comedy for his own digital newspaper, Comic book comic; before that, for real newspapers. Based in New York, but will travel anywhere for the scoop: ice cream or news. He also tweets @comicscomic and podcasts half-hour episodes with comedians revealing origin stories: Comic Book Comic Presents Latest First.