Jim Gaffigan falls squarely in the “clean comic” camp, a label some reject for pragmatic reasons.
In our gritty entertainment age, a set without expletives is viewed with suspicion, if not hostility. Even Jon Stewart routinely curses during his Daily Show rants, the string of accompanying beeps part of his performance art.
Gaffigan doesn’t need profanity, and few could see his stand-up and think it needs an edge. Funny is funny, and Gaffigan remains at the peak of his profession without turning blue.
His latest home video release, Obsessed, finds the portly comic speaking truth to caloric power. He’s a heavyset man who loves his donuts and, more importantly, rages against so-called superfoods. The kale lobby might want to talk to Gaffigan at some point, or at least offer him a bribe.
“Kale is a super food, and its special power is tasting bad … it’s like really bitter spinach with hair …. they could find that kale cures cancer, and I’d go, ‘I’m just gonna do the chemo.'”
Obsessed hits silly wedding rituals, body wash and beauty products, but the bulk of the act deals with the star’s bulk. And ours.
Some comedians use their physicality as an ice breaker. Heavyset comics target their weight after taking the stage before hitting their main material. Gaffigan takes our food obsessions seriously while gleefully mocking his own girth. He rightly labels donuts as the one food you can eat when you’re full, which explains why the greatest painters used fruit, not Krispy Kremes, as their muse. Who could leave donuts sitting around a table long enough to “pose” for posterity?
Addressing a nation wallowing in calories the comic shreds the lies we tell ourselves en route to the drive thru. Listen beyond the laughs and you’ll find deeper truths about our attitude toward food. He’s not lecturing us, but the jokes reveal something about our national hunger pains that resonate beyond the punch lines.
We’ve become lazy, and our eating reflects that lack of personal hunger.
Not every topic suits his observational approach. His Victoria’s Secret riffs feature as many misses as hits, though his description of the “bored” look men assume in the store makes the bit worth the bother.
The video presentation is straightforward without overdosing on reaction shots. No nonsense camera work feels appropriate for a stand-up who wouldn’t know what to do with a prop if it landed next to him on stage.
The video’s final third isn’t as crisp as the previous material, but stick through it and there’s still a quality zinger every minute or two.
Gaffigan is a proud family man, and while children won’t appreciate the nuance of his act there’s nothing offensive that a young viewer shouldn’t hear. The most tawdry joke is still PG rated: “hot dogs are like strippers. No one wants to know the back story.”
That’s refreshing, but it’s hardly the only reason to put Obsessed on your must see video list.