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Sitting Down with Jim Gaffigan

Kevin Noonan | Monday, September 2, 2013

Observer Scene: How long have you been on tour so far?

Jim Gaffigan: Well, I’m always doing shows. This hour, I’ve been working on it for two years.

OS: Have you done a taped show yet for television? 

JG: No, I do that near the end. So I’ll probably do that in January.

OS: And you have the book out right now, too, “Dad is Fat.” So now when you go places do people ask you more about the book or your stand-up?

JG: The thing that’s deceptive about books is that, even to be a New York Times bestseller, you don’t have to sell that many of them. You know, compared to ticket sales or albums; like there will probably be 2,000 [people out there tonight]. You can sell 2,000 books in a week and be on the New York Times Bestseller List, which is amazing. You’d think it would be a lot more. I love the book thing because there are some people that are just so much more impressed by a book, because stand-up is like, the status down there with mime and prop work. I’m not saying it is, but some people might.

OS: So if you’ve worked on this hour for two years now, how different is it now than when you started?

JG: It’s evolving, and it’s still evolving. I’ll take bolder steps at different times. College shows are very unique, they’re a unique task in that, everyone is below the age of what, 23? So there’s some reference points that we can share; a view of being broke. Me talking about my kids, not that I do it that much, but I wouldn’t do it at a college show probably. The hour changes, but I’m an observational guy so it’s kind of bits and pieces, it’s not huge, new ideas.

OS: What’s the college set going to look like tonight in comparison to like a club?

JG: College students are more intelligent than a club audience on a whole, usually, but you know if it’s a drunk college audience, then it might as well be a prom show. It’s also different types of schools have different cultures, too. You can’t really say that Notre Dame would be similar to Boston College, you can’t say that Notre Dame would be similar to any other Midwestern school. It’s the best university in the world.

OS: I agree with you, you’re going to make some fans out there saying that. Did you do stand-up when you were in college?

JG: I did like a talent show, where I hosted and I kind of did stand-up, but I was too terrified. I didn’t think that I wanted to be a comedian. I studied finance in college. It’s weird because I used to go to Notre Dame on Saturdays. I grew up in northwestern Indiana, so I’d come to Notre Dame on Saturdays and see games occasionally. I would wear the Notre Dame stuff all through high school, and then I didn’t get in.

OS: Are you still a fan?

JG: Yeah. I mean, I don’t watch college football as much as I did when I was in high school. But it’s also, I’m from Indiana, and I’m Catholic. If you’re Catholic and from Indiana, first of all if you’re Catholic and from the United States, then by law you have to like Notre Dame. It’s just like Mormons with BYU. So I think everyone’s a Notre Dame fan. It’s like St. Patrick’s Day, everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.

OS: Now that you’re on tour constantly, and you’ve got a family at home, how many kids is it?

JG: Five.

OS: How is touring different now than it was when you first started out, now that you’ve made it but you have more responsibilities at home as compared to not having anything but not having any responsibilities either?

JG: Yeah, it’s a huge difference. When I leave, because I have five kids, there’s a shuffling of responsibilities. Not to say that I do a fraction of what my wife does. So it has to be worth it for me to leave town. And then when I tour at like spring break and during the summer I’ll go for two weeks and I take the whole family and we go on a tour bus.

OS: I think I read somewhere that you have a CBS show in the works, has that got a green light on it?

JG: I mean, kind of. But network television is such a crapshoot. I mean I’d love for it to happen. Maybe I’m too superstitious to think that it will. I don’t know, it’s just a long shot.

OS: Do you have other future plans, do you want to keep doing stand-up or more books or movies?

JG: I like doing stand-up, and the book was really fun. I’ve kind of learned that there’s really no guarantee what’s going to happen. I thought that I was going to be like a writer on Letterman, I didn’t know I’d be doing theaters and stuff like that, or colleges for people that are secretly drunk. So I’m flexible. I love acting, but I’m not holding my breath. The process of getting acting roles is pretty humiliating. I describe it as like stripping, but you don’t get the dollar.

OS: How often do people come up to you and do the “meow” thing from “Super Troopers?”

JG: I would say of people that come up and do things, out of 10 people approaching and saying a weird thing, seven of them would be hot pockets, two of them would be bacon and one of them would be meow.

OS: I know you’re on the road, but are there are other comedians that you make time to watch when they do new stuff?

JG: You know, it’s weird. I’ve been doing stand-up for 20 years. I have friends that I like that I’ll watch and I’ll have a kind of emotional attachment and an interest in them succeeding. There’s new comics, and the weird thing is that’s always the question: ‘Who are the new comics?’ I try and change it up, but some of the “new” comics are not that new. Like John Mulaney is not that new, Hannibal Burress is not that new. I think Nate Bargatze is funny, there’s tons of funny people.

OS: We had a lot of coverage in the paper last week about “Breaking Bad,” do you watch the show?

JG: Yeah.

OS: Do you have any predictions for how the show’s going to end?

JG: I think he’s probably going to die, right? And think that Hank is probably going to get in a position where he can expose him, and then I think that Walt’s wife is going to kill someone. There we go, I’m going on the record. Take it from me, I tell diarrhea jokes for a living.