Jim Gaffigan on his forthcoming DVD/CD release, his experience in comedy, and his opinion on people downloading his work for free with file sharing programs.
When did you develop an interest in comedy?
When I was a kid. I was the class clown but didn’t know anyone who was even in the entertainment biz. Seemed unrealistic.
What were you like in school?
I was the class joker but also an athlete and studied hard.
Is school something that you enjoyed?
What sort of aspirations did you have as a child?
I wanted to be an actor. Or an explorer.
Is television something that impacted you greatly growing up?
Definitely. I grew up watching everything. I didn’t know if it was good or not. I remember seeing all these shows set in NYC and thought, “Yeah, I gotta get there.”
Were you incorporating humor into your daily routine in school and college?
Yes. We moved when I was in 5th grade. Humor was a survival tool.
What did you study in college?
I studied finance and English.
Were you in some sort of comedy troupe in college?
Nope. I hosted a big talent show at Georgetown University. It was a big deal to get the hosting job.
When did you decide to do standup?
It was on a dare. I was doing some Improv just cause it was so fun. Then a guy in my Improv class talked me into taking a stand up seminar thingy where we perform at the end. He chickened out.
When was the first time that you performed?
It was January 27, 1989. If you want to see my first time it’s on my new DVD “Beyond the Pale”.
How did that go?
It went well. I was really nervous. I had friends in the audience so it was a little one sided.
How has your material changed over time?
Oh it’s changed a lot. I started with Greg Giraldo. He wanted to be like Brian Regan and I wanted to be like Attell. I ended up more like Regan, I guess. I did impressions for a while. I used to be dirty.
How long was it before you moved up to middling or emceeing?
Well I stayed in the city and kept my day job forever. I’d say I was doing it 7 years before I really middled consistently.
What were the next several years like for you?
I saw a lot of my friends and I starting to get success and just kept on going.
Do you have any open mic anecdotes?
I black them out.
What were you doing to support yourself financially at the time?
I was a copywriter and account executive in an ad agency.
What changes have you noticed in comedy since you’ve gotten involved?
When I started it was the end of the comedy boom. Clubs were closing and there were too many comics. Now there is way more work. When I started, stand up seemed like a bad business decision.
Do you think that comedians are taking full advantage of the Internet?
I don’t know. I don’t really understand the Internet totally. I have a website and am on My Space. Other than my mailing list, I don’t know what else I could do.
What are some misconceptions about standup that you’d like to clear up?
That comics want the audience to help by yelling things out. We don’t.
What are the differences between you onstage and off?
I’m more tired off stage, but less lazy though.
What sort of venues do you prefer to perform in?
Smart audiences that are open minded and attentive. I don’t care what the name of the place is.
How do you feel about college shows?
College shows are great. Unfortunately it can take a day to get to some of the towns they are in since some colleges are out of cities.
Do you notice that comedian is a career that young people aspire to have?
Yes. I think Comedy Central has a lot to do with that.
How do you deal with being recognized by fans?
It’s weird but flattering. I’m just polite and say thanks.
Magazine-wise, why do you think that comedy doesn’t get the same sort of attention as music, gardening, or cigars?
Good point. I don’t know. I guess comedy is far more personal and a younger art form.
I am told that a big part of comedy is networking, but do you have any experience with the other type of networking: Amway?
Nope, thank God.
How would you compare the British and American comedy scene?
Oh jeez, I need a page for this. They seem to like really weird or really angry Americans.
They seem to curse a lot.
Recently, an episode of the Simpsons featured the manatee. Did you get a cut of that?
No. I don’t own the manatee as a topic so what can I do?
Do you think that the manatee is getting the sort of mainstream attention that it deserves?
I suppose. The manatee is really the lazy, or fat, or quiet kid of the animal community.
Do you enjoy the Simpsons?
I think the old stuff is brilliant.
Other than No Sleep Till’ Madison, which films are you the main character in?
I was a lead in “Great New Wonderful”.
Your CDs are available to download on various file sharing programs. How do you feel about that?
What can I do? It brings a lot of people to shows so I guess it’s not that bad.
There are albums out there that are not available on your site. Can you comment on them?
I did two albums initially where people complained about the sound. So I redid them but they ended up changing them a bit.
Economics I and II.
Just econ 2. There’s no econ 1.
I thought it was the worst title I could think of.
My wife’s nickname is Luigi and when we fight one of is in the doghouse.
When will your recently recorded Comedy Central special be aired?
Do you have a new CD in the works?
The CD “beyond the pale” will be available Feb 7 as well as a DVD. The DVD has tons of extras. My first time doing stand up, the CC special, an extra thirty minutes of stand up, a cartoon, a movie of me in Chicago, and a video piece “How to Break Into Standup”.
Who will be distributing the CD and DVD?
CD is being distributed by Comedy Central. The DVD is being distributed by Image Entertainment.
Did the results of the poll on your site affect the name of the CD?
The poll did affect it. We chose “Beyond the Pale”, which won.
This pilot you did, Random Acts. When will that be a series?
Since you are a parent, I’m going to ask you about children’s cartoons. How do you feel about the cartoons of today compared to those of the past?
We only watch Sesame Street. DVR is magic.
Do you enjoy being an adult?
Yes, way better than being a kid.
Do you have a special message to leave our readers with?
Sleep is great.
Jimgaffigan.com is one of the best comedian websites out there in terms of content. There’s footage of Jim performing, articles about Jim, commercials with Jim, and Jim on various television programs.