Written by Musgo Del Jefe
Jim Gaffigan may be the funniest and yet most invisible comedian around today. Few people I talk to can recognize him by name and he's only vaguely familiar by face. These people will find out about Jim's brilliance in a few years and they'll be the one's trying to tell me that I've got to catch this hilarious comedian. King Baby is a stand-up routine filmed in Austin, Texas. It's a follow-up to the great Beyond The Pale special that gave us the oft-You-Tubed "Hot Pocket" routine.
Jim Gaffigan has an easy style. He balances observational humor with shorter stories. The topics are broad and not going to suffer with age – no political satire here. He spent much of his first special talking in a higher, softer voice that was the voice of a disappointed audience member. He's toned it back in this special and it works even more effectively. The thing that really hits you about halfway through the performance is that it's clean. I had to check the DVD to see if I had the "edited for TV" version, but it clearly stated that it was Not Rated and that "This program is recommended for Mature Audiences". It's refreshing to get through the 71 minute set and realize that it rarely veered off into even PG-13 category and yet it appeals to adults.
Some of the topics include . . .
BOWLING. "For most of us bowling is the activity you do after you've done everything else . . . no one's ever jealous when they heard you went bowling." This section is a great lead off to the act. Jim's able to hit on lots of his strong points – the combination of laziness, nerdiness, and food. The jokes seem a little dated mainly because bowling seems to be an activity that has fallen out of favor with youth today.
ESCALATORS. "How about those people that take the stairs right next to the escalator. 'What are you drunk? This thing is free.'" Once again, Jim hits on our essential laziness. The scenarios are so simple and yet he makes the jokes seem fresh. Much of this act feels right out of a Seinfeld routine – that's a compliment.
CAMPING. "Some places you have to pay to sleep outside . . . that's got to be offensive to the homeless people". Another topic that seems a little dated but Jim makes the topic a riot. The set is highlighted by his jokes on avoiding being eaten by a bear.
BEAN BAG. The best part of this track is actually his take on futons. "It's a couch that turns into a bed. The most disappointing Transformer of all." This track makes me laugh almost as much as any other in the special.
BACON. The topics of futons, bean bags, and beds leads to the anchor section of the special. This long take on bacon is amazing. The fact that he can get so many minutes on the topic is made only funnier by the fact that he keeps mentioning how long he's going on about bacon. And it makes me want to have some bacon. "Wanna know how good bacon is? To improve other food they wrap it in bacon." This track is the one that you'll be talking about for years afterwards. "You know bacon's bad for you when a doughnut is a better choice." He even worms a great religion joke into the middle of the bacon routine.
DEODORANT. One of the few series of jokes that doesn't work well (except for the bacon references). I appreciate him once again trying to work in jokes on everyday items.
DUNKIN' DONUTS. Back to the food humor. This set on cities and their food is hilarious and the one Jim used on many of the talk shows to promote this special. "I don't know how Dunkin' Donuts stays in business – they sell 3000 donuts and they make, what, 30 bucks." Once again, simple jokes that are funny and comfortable.
CATSUP. Next to "Bacon", this is the signature piece of the routine. Once again, it's a simple idea that flows from a couple pieces on fast food. It starts with a bit on catsup packets and moves into a discussion of catsup in general. "What about those people that don't use catsup. What are they called? Al-Queda." This is a great finale.
WAFFLE HOUSE. Like any artist, he finishes with his strongest piece "Catsup" but for his encore, he still has a quick strong piece that will leave you laughing until the next special. I found this one the best structured. Unlike the rapid-fire single-line jokes of the previous bits, this one builds like a narrative with the biggest payoffs at the end. "Here's something you'll never hear in a Waffle House – 'Nice job cleaning up!'" It's a great way to end this routine.
This is a truly fun special. Like the comfort foods that he makes fun of, Jim's style seems so natural. The biggest compliment I can give him is that while all the jokes are new, they seem like something you must have heard before. They're just that easy. It's not that easy to make the mundane an entertaining topic. Pop in the DVD and you'll be hooked.
The disc has a number of specials in addition to over 30 minutes not seen in the Comedy Central special. The "Pale Force" episodes from the Conan O'Brien show are forgettable, as are the "Our Massive Planet" internet episodes. The interviews are interesting because they show Jim just having fun but he never seems to be as comfortable as he is on stage just talking about the things we encounter everyday.