Jim Gaffigan

by Karin McKie

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday October 17, 2017

Jim Gaffigan

Jim Gaffigan is an average white guy, but, as "The King of Clean," comedy's rare bird (or here, a Noble Ape, his tour's title), eschewing easy scatological humor with relatable Everyman observations, delivered by a seasoned self-deprecation pro.

His opener Ted Alexandro successfully set the tone for middle age male angst. The recently married, balding, bearded New York denizen talked about how true love is about disappointment, riffing on erectile dysfunction, and that aging is about regularly waking up injured. He also referenced that the previous evening's crowd was distracted due to the Cubs game. (Cool guy and cool bio: he co-founded the New York Comedians Coalition, which organized pay raises for over 300 performers; he also supports Black Lives Matter, The Climate March and Fight for $15).

Elgin-born Gaffigan brought his own burgeoning beard, looking like an "out-of-shape Civil War general," plus red Adidas sneakers to his second show of the evening at The Chicago Theatre, but his energy and well-paced delivery never flagged.

His co-writer and show producer wife Jeannie Gaffigan comprised a good chunk of beginning of his 70-minute set. She had brain tumor surgery last April, so he mused why doctors always compare tumor size to fruit, saying that the professionals likely thought, "I don't think this guy could understand centimeters." He's also been loath to bring up his seasonal allergies since then, knowing he will lose every comparison or argument with her.

He talked about touring with her and their five kids, going to the M&M store in England, where you "walk until you're exhausted, spend money you don't have, and look for a bathroom."

He riffed about his weight, why he doesn't want to be nude, even for a massage therapist, using his patented, squeaky inner voice to call himself out (some hate this conceit, but I think it adds depth and theatricality to what could be a straightforward "didja ever notice?" set).

With all his various, burgeoning sizes, he could "curate an exhibit of weight gain" (although he doesn't think he looks as bad as Michael Moore, who always looks like a "victim of a shipwreck").

Gaffigan is a best-selling writer ("Dad is Fat") and a solid actor, the pasty Celtic working man go-to following Philip Seymour Hoffman's death, and his theatrical chops are evident as he rides his tight, well-crafted set through segments and laughs.

He rarely gets political -- he dropped a North Korea reference, and one about the GOP elephant in the room. "I know people are nervous about Trump being president," he said, remaining calm at center stage as he did throughout the night. "But I can tell you as a straight, white male, I'll probably be OK." (He added that his wife hates that joke.)

He talks about completing a genetic test kit, where he learned "I wasted $100," and that his last name means anxious. Then, like classic rockers, he launched in one of his greatest hits, what many in the packed house came to see: the "Hot Pockets" routine he memorialized at Chicago's Vic Theater in 2006's "Beyond the Pale" tour. And, like smart bands, he repeated it mostly verbatim, but kept it fresh, and added some new material at the end. Apish yet noble indeed.

Jim Gaffigan performed October 12-14 at The Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St., Chicago, IL 60601. For more information, visit www.msg.com. Gaffigan's Noble Ape Tour continues around the U.S., as well as Scandinavia and Canada, well into next spring. For information, visit http://www.jimgaffigan.com/tour-dates. Opener Ted Alexandro tours with Gaffigan through the end of the year. For information, visit http://tedalexandro.com/tour-dates

Karin McKie is a writer, educator and activist at KarinMcKie.com