Jim Gaffigan has added a seventh show to his December run of shows here in NYC at the Nokia Theater with Todd Glass opening -- tickets went on sale at noon today -- and last night, Gaffigan sat down with me to talk about some other news in his world.
As you may have heard, Gaffigan will be part of the spring 2011 Broadway revival of "That Championship Season," in a cast that also includes Kiefer Sutherland, Jason Patric, Chris Noth and Brian Cox. Gaffigan also jokes quite a bit about McDonald's in his new hour of stand-up, so I had to ask him about the return of the McRib. His wife, Jeannie (who's holding the camera), also weighs in with her review.
That's the set-up. Here's the pay-off. Roll the clip!
In case you missed it during the flood of Election Day headlines and status updates, we learned yesterday that stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan will be part of a high-profile ensemble reviving the Tony-winning play, "That Championship Season," when it returns to Broadway in March 2011.
Gaffigan will play George Sikowski, the player who became the town's unpopular mayor. The rest of the cast includes Brian Cox, Chris Noth, Jason Patric and Kiefer Sutherland. "That Championship Season" won the Tony Award for best play and the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1973 during its original run.
It's beginning to look more and more like if you want to see your favorite stand-up comedian next spring, you'll be doing so in a dramatic turn on Broadway. Gaffigan is the third stand-up to be recently hired for a spring 2011 Broadway production. Chris Rock and Robin Williams are the others. And Dane Cook reportedly is considering a Broadway offer, too. Will there be others? Stay tuned.
I don't know if you can ever have too many stars on a benefit show, but Comedy Central certainly tries every two years on behalf of autism research with its Night of Too Many Stars: An Overbooked Concert for Autism Education, which airs again tonight.
Much of the event taped earlier this month in NYC, although when it airs this evening, host Jon Stewart and a slew of celebrities will appear live in LA to answer the phones when you call in to make a donation. Viewers also will be able to vote, via texting, on celebrity stunts during the live portion of the broadcast. Comedians appearing and manning the phone bank include Jason Alexander, Mike Birbiglia, Julie Bowen, Drew Carey, Cedric the Entertainer, George Clooney, Bryan Cranston, Larry David, Will Forte, Jeff Garlin, Lauren Graham, Tom Hanks, John Hodgman, Rob Huebel, Penn Jillette, Chris Kattan, Jimmy Kimmel, B.J. Novak, Conan O’Brien, Jim Parsons, Andy Richter, Maya Rudolph, Paul Scheer, Adam Scott, Bill Simmons, David Spade, Eric Stonestreet, Betty White, Larry Wilmore and Weird Al Yankovic.
As for the show itself, I saw it, so I can tell you what you may see, unless they decide to edit it out.
You may or may not see Tina Fey joke about wanting to say hi to her family, then realizing the show is airing on Thursday night, when 30 Rock is on, adding: "Who am I kidding, they're watching Shit My Dad Says on the DVR." Here she is with Stewart showing off her 2011 Tina Fey Swimsuit Calendar:
You may or may not see Ricky Gervais make the audience gasp with a DUI joke that also includes a rape! Here is joking about his history of charitable giving, including the time he was given the gift of a goat. An African goat. Roll it.
You may or may not see Tracy Morgan awkwardly work with Stewart through a sketch about how big his pockets were.
You may or may not see Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell sing a novelty song that's only about 19 months too late, including the re-appearance of Tay Zonday. If you were around 19 months ago, that name might make more sense. But probably not.
You may or may not see Jim Gaffigan kill with his new material about McDonald's.
Today seems like random day in my comedy mailbag. To wit:
And here's a video Angelo made for his project:
The only thing people love making more than year-end list are decade-end lists, and some of them seem as much about generating page-views as they are about subjectively ranking things that should not be ranked. That's rank! So where are my lists? I've got something else up my sleeves for this December, but in the meantime, I thought I'd share with you the iTunes list of their choices of the 20 best comedy discs from 2009, along with my thoughts on said list.
For one thing, it's really across the board. Any list that puts Brent Weinbach side-by-side with Katt Williams is looking to appeal to all sorts. I'm not exactly sure I agree with everything on here, but then again, I haven't quite listened to all of them just yet -- there are stacks of CDs and DVDs in my apartment, and I hope to get through them all by year's end and share my own thoughts on them with you. I have listened to and reviewed eight of the iTunes 20; most of the rest are waiting in my queue, and a few I don't even have my hands on just yet? My loss or yours? Also, iTunes missed some great ones from the past year. No John Mulaney? I haven't heard Paul F. Tompkins new disc yet, but would presume it's worthy. And no ladies on the list? Not even Maria Bamford? Harumph. Here, then, are the iTunes choices from the year in comedy -- I'm not sure if they have a ranking order from iTunes, so I'll list them alphabetically:
Some comedians make their names via commercials, and some commercial campaigns seek out name comedians to lighten up and brighten up their brands. This new holiday gift TV ad blitz by eBay definitely falls into the latter group, going to go-to guys Jim Gaffigan, Kevin Hart, Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter to make you think about looking up an online auction or two for your gift ideas this winter. I saw one of Gaffigan's spots on my TV last night. There is a bunch of extra videos and insider insight on the ad campaign on eBay's site. Here is his advice on homemade gifts:
After the jump, all of the other new eBay ads with stand-up comedians!
Sorry, comedy fans. The Comic's Comic did not don something scary or silly this Halloween, but that didn't stop plenty of our favorite comedians from celebrating (and sometimes even performing) in costume on Saturday night. And in the age of the Internets (the age...of the...INTERNETS) that also means going online to share our Halloween disguises with our friends and followers. Here are some of my favorites that I spotted over the weekend. Who were yours? Did I miss it? If so, please share!
To kick things off, though, how about a "doodle" from Michael Showalter about Halloween parties:
If I were to tell you that an upcoming episode of Law & Order (any edition) would feature a comedian in a bit part, then you would say, sure, why not. It has happened before plenty of times. In fact, enough times that the second annual Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival has a themed show called The Comedians of Law & Order, happening Saturday at the Bell House in Brooklyn.
Now in it's what got to be a whopper of a coincidence, the original Law & Order just wrapped its fourth episode of the upcoming 20th season, and that episode, called "Reality Bites" and tentatively slated to air Oct. 16, features five -- count 'em, FIVE -- comedians: Jim Gaffigan, Michael Showalter, Livia Scott, Baron Vaughn and Cole Escola. And there's nothing funny about the episode.
As Vaughn relayed to me -- no spoilers, promise! -- the plot revolves around a family of special-needs kids who were going to be portrayed in a reality TV show. "It's the opposite of funny," he said. "Just tragic."
Vaughn has two lines as a medical examiner. Scott plays the foreperson on the jury, and said being in the custom-built L&O courtroom was something else. "It's so impressive," she told me. She's also thrilled to become part of the L&O fabric. Showalter plays the reality-TV producer, so obviously, he gets to have some villainous lines, even if he may or may not be a villain. But we know in our hearts he's a hero, because he provided us with these lovely photos from the set via Twitter (@mshowalter)! Escola (Logo's new Jeffery and Cole Casserole) plays an autistic son of Gaffigan's character, and Escola wrote on his blog, "I have dialogue and a couple of scenes and that's all I should say because I don't want to give away any of the plot. I'm all wet 'n' sticky with excitement!!"
For Gaffigan, this Law & Order stuff must be old hat, right? He has been on regular L&O, SVU and Criminal Intent. He told me that walking onto the set and seeing so many familiar faces from comedy was a treat, but it wasn't intentional by any means. "We all got the jobs. It wasn't like, wouldn't it be cool if we had five comedians in one Law & Order episode," he said.
How did this episode differ from your past L&Os? "I play a guy who is somehow associated with possibly being a participant in a reality show," he said. "Considering that one of those (previous) times, I played a pedophile clown, and one time I played a plumber with an incredibly Greek name. And then the other ones I play a character where I was just the dim-witted guy...for New York actors, it's just so exciting to do that show, because it's been a staple for so long. It's also fun to do."
"When you're guest-starring on Law & Order, you get to play someone who, very close to you someone has just died, and then they say, 'Do that scene.' Or you've been accused of murdering someone. 'Do that.'" You'll have to tune in Oct. 16 to see if Gaffigan did either of those things.
As I sit here, living off of the boissons gratis of the 24-hour Subway restaurant and paying for temporary WiFi access in Montreal's Trudeau airport terminal, I realize that my initial plan to bring you a full slate of reviews from Montreal's Just For Laughs festival today might not come to fruition. Something about spending most of the afternoon trying to get a flight to New York City, then boarding a flight that takes off, and almost makes it there only to circle back and land in Canada, forcing you and your fellow passengers to pass through Customs even though you just left (the Customs agent had a quizzical view of the situation, as well), then spending the rest of the evening and into the morning hoping that the skies have cleared and airports reopened -- it all leaves me tres fatigue, as the French write. At least for a few hours, though, I was sitting in a chair in the sky!
With that nod to Louis CK, who put on two of the best shows (and hottest tickets) during the fest, I do want to share some initial thoughts about Montreal's annual celebration of comedy, and how it fared this summer. More in-depth reviews of the shows I saw will get published once I'm back home in New York City, to be sure. But first, a few thoughts, opinions and ideas to get you thinking about -- and hopefully talking about -- comedy.
Denis Leary appeared on last night's edition of Late Show with David Letterman (though taped on Monday), and after some funny banter from Leary ribbing Letterman for waiting 23 years before getting married to his girlfriend, Leary explains that he looks as good as he does at the age of 50 because of bacon. It's a joke. Fine. But then, almost six minutes in, Leary decides to extoll the many virtues of bacon:
And, well, then we have to revisit the perennial stand-up comedian debate about whether comics who talk about the same things are stealing from one another or merely following parallel thinking about a common topic. Bacon certainly is common enough for anyone to love and joke about. And yet. Leary's history and reputation make one pause. His examples here also are suspect. Jim Gaffigan has covered this topic famously over the past year, not only on his new CD/DVD, but also last year in detail on Letterman's stage. Here is the finished product from Gaffigan's special:
I always want to give comedians the benefit of the doubt, particularly when you're considering topics such as current events or popular everyday items. That's one reason why some argue about the importance of having POV and referencing your own point of view, or taking it a step further and making the material about your life experiences (which audience may relate to on a general level but are all your own and can never be subject to joke theft).
So I'm asking you, I suppose, is posting this all much to do over nothing, or should we continue to showcase occurrences like this in the world of stand-up comedy? Is this a healthy debate to have? Or has technology made us all too aware of what everyone else is doing onstage, to the point where it's stifling creativity?
UPDATE: My thought, upon further reflection, is that this isn't quite as controversial as the longstanding beef the comedy community has with Leary regarding Bill Hicks, nor the revelation that Leary's first big song was inspired by a Louis CK routine. This feels more like an unnecessary diversion to make Leary's "panel" with Letterman funnier.
P.S. I'm also fully aware that in Gaffigan's special, he has a line about what to do in the event of a bear attack, a topic that's also covered by Eugene Mirman and Mike Birbiglia. That's always just struck me as odd.
All of Gaffigan's vlogs and Tweets last week certainly must have helped. But not as much as following through on the promise by delivering a funny special that you'll want to listen to or watch again and again. As someone who runs my own career, more or less, I know that it's tricky to figure out how shameless to be in terms of self-promotion. You want people to notice you, but don't want to annoy potential new fans or turn off current fans. Gaffigan, I think, provides a happy reminder that as long as you have a product worth promoting, you better let people know about it.
Buy King Baby:
It's no secret that I am a fan of Jim Gaffigan, and over the past couple of years, hundreds of thousands of you have agreed with me. Many more probably will hop on board with the release of King Baby, Gaffigan's new 71-minute stand-up comedy special that debuts in a crammed-in hour on Comedy Central this Sunday, March 29, and then available to all on DVD with extras on Tuesday, March 31.
What's to like about Jim Gaffigan? More like what's not to like about him. Some may say it's the fact that Gaffigan rarely curses onstage that opens him up to a larger fan base, but right from the opening of King Baby (and the menu scene on the DVD), when you see the montage from Austin where he filmed the special and see his kids chomping on some delicious meaty ribs from Iron Works, you get a clue to his success as a stand-up. A night enjoying Gaffigan is akin to a night spent with yummy comfort foods, and as a bonus, you'll also get to hear Gaffigan make joke after joke about your favorite guilty pleasure comfort foods. It's comfort comedy, is what it is. He says it's about being lazy -- taking on topics such as bowling, escalators, moving sidewalks, camping, hammocks, the snooze button, futons, bean bags, pillows, bacon, meats, and fast food. But it's also about how we as human have strived to make our lives as comfortable as possible, and suddenly these mundane topics aren't quite as mundane and simplistic as they had seemed. On camping, he notes: "Some places you have to pay to sleep outside. That's got to be insulting to homeless people." Here he is on the power of television making us comfortable:
|Jim Gaffigan - Exclusive - Watching TV|
There are plenty of bacon jokes, obviously, as Gaffigan proved earlier by dedicating his entire segment with David Letterman once on bacon. But he tops that in King Baby with more time spent on ketchup. Yep. Ketchup.
I'm slowly getting the feeling that Jim Gaffigan is hijacking my site to promote his new DVD and Comedy Central special, King Baby, and that it's working, thanks to his trip out to Los Angeles to enlist the help of Sarah Silverman, Todd Glass and Jimmy Dore. Here they talk about how "edgy" Jim Gaffigan's comedy is compared to everyone else in the stand-up game:
And here Glass and Dore show what it must be like for Gaffigan to interact with fans who only know and love him for saying the words, "Hot Pockets!"
In the past week, Jim Gaffigan has reconnected with his Twitter account, and now has begun reaching out to fans also in daily video blogs on his YouTube account to promote his upcoming Comedy Central special and DVD, King Baby. I mention this not merely because I enjoy his stand-up, and hear that he gives me thanks on the DVD, but do so today because if I put my ears together, I could swear his Irish greeting sounds a lot like my name. Note: I don't think it's possible or advisable to put one's ears together. Enjoy!
Jim Gaffigan's latest Comedy Central special, King Baby, debuts March 29 on Comedy Central, with a CD and DVD coming soon thereafter on March 31. If you follow Gaffigan, you already know how much he can mine your favorite foods for funny (Hot Pockets, the McRib), and in this hour, he already has shown on late-night TV that he has several minutes of punchlines about bacon. Here is a newly released clip in which Gaffigan explores the love-hate of the Waffle House chain.
And here is an unearthed audio clip of Jim Gaffigan speaking to then-Sen. Barack Obama on a Chicago radio show in 2005 trying to get him to attend the "Beyond The Pale" tapings in Chicago.
Jim Gaffigan performed an hour unannounced Tuesday night in New York City, as he works out the final bits of what will be his new hourlong Comedy Central special when he tapes it in Austin during the first week of December. Oh, yes, there will be bacon. And other "edgy" topics, too, for Gaffigan to consider and mine for punchlines. I caught up with him afterward backstage in the Comix "green room" to talk about how he's using the weeknights to try out new jokes while touring theaters across the country on the weekends, about what it's like to play multiple nights in a city at a theater instead of a club (including six shows at Town Hall here in NYC over Thanksgiving weekend), and much more. Gaffigan told me he hadn't performed in the past four nights, as he'd just gotten back from a family trip to Disney World. You can watch some of our conversation right here, in intimate but spooky mirror vision, where my little Flip camera suddenly transforms into some odd-like little Big Brother, keeping an eye and red light on us.
More quotes, plus ticket info, after the jump...
Just when I thought I might have to rent the DVD of The Love Guru to see the funny provided by Jim Gaffigan and Stephen Colbert, the fine folks at the No Fact Zone (with an assist from Videogum) have done so for me and passed along this deleted scene improvisational fun-time surprise. Needless to say, it's Not Safe For Work. Gaffigan and Colbert, reminders to you all, played hockey broadcasters in the booth for the big game. Sample exchange: "I would not want to be his balls." "I don't even think his balls want to be his balls." Five minutes of funny, followed by bloopers:
Almost missed this entirely somehow...but tonight, as in an hour from now, doors open at 7 p.m. at the Knitting Factory in NYC, there's a comedy benefit for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society featuring Todd Barry, Eugene Mirman, Leo Allen, John Mulaney, Max Silvestri, Seth Herzog, Andy Blitz, Daniel Dratch, Mike Birbiglia, Jim Gaffigan and more? Get out of town. No, stay in the city and head on over and donate $20 to the cause. Here's a link.