Monday, August 31, 2015

The Jim Gaffigan Show - A Short Review

I will preface this post by saying... I love Jim Gaffigan. He is my favorite stand-up comedian, no contest. I think his performance ability, voices, and impressions are a blast. I like that he doesn't have to be raunchy to garner laughs and all his observations on American society, especially when it comes to food, are spot on. I have all his stand-up specials, his book Dad is Fat, and I saw him live in 2010. In short, I am a fan.

I have a high respect for Jim and his wife Jeannie. I'm impressed that they manage to make family a priority in the noisy streets of New York City where they raise their five kids in a two bedroom apartment. Yikes! I also love that they are very open about faith and even personal struggles.

Jim, Jeannie, and their lovely, pale brood.

So when Jim announced he was doing a TV show surrounding his crazy life with his five kids in New York. I thought it was a fun, albeit slightly strange idea to make a narrative so closely related to your life.

I watched the first five episodes with my husband, but we both were pretty unimpressed. Not that Jim isn't funny, of course he is, but the show's humor doesn't live up to the standard set by his stand-up. The writing overall seems like it can't find a consistent tone. The comedy ranges from situational hijinks, awkward moments, and even over-the-top slapstick at times.

Part of why I love Jim's stand up so much is because we are seeing the world through his interpretation. He does the voices of his wife, random characters, and even his audience. His presentation of people is part of what makes the performance so hysterical. My personal favorite is his New York/Boston accents he throws in. He once even used that voice for one of Jesus's disciples and it was gold. However, when you meet these characters from his life in the show, something falls flat. It doesn't have his voice, it's just people. In my opinion, the situations and characters don't really have the steam for regular prime-time programming.

From his show where his wife is played by actress Ashley Williams
The other parts that make Jim's stand-up so great are also lost in the show. He doesn't break down and discuss his observations of the world in the show. That space has been filled with an overabundance of scenes in which he's dealing with his food addiction or constantly being reminded he's fat. We really don't experience any of the more amusing commentaries on going to the gym, McDonald's snobs, or Church mass that we've come to love and expect from Jim. He usually spends a good portion of his sets unpacking a social norm and exposing how ridiculous (and ridiculously funny) it really is. A lot of what sets him apart and what gives his comedy a clever edge is that social exposition on our habits as American people.

I'm definitely not saying the show is terrible, but neither is it great. It's just kind of there floating around TV Land. I feel a little crappy typing all this, but as a fan and a viewer I have to be honest. I am glad he creatively took a chance and tried something new, but I also am hoping he ends this experiment after one season and returns to stand-up where, in my humble opinion, his strength lies.


  1. :-/ I am sad that his TV show falls flat. Nolan watched several episodes and didn't seem too impressed, either. I just saw a few scenes here and there. I definitely think he needs to stick to stand-up comedy. He truly stands out from the others and it's worth his time and energy to keep moving his talents there. I think your post convincingly summarizes that!

    1. Thanks Erika! Yeah it's too bad that the show just doesn't work right, but I definitely comment people for trying hehe.