There are two types of married comics. There’s the Louis C.K. type, who demonizes his ex-wife on stage in hilarious fashion. (That type of comedy is nothing new. Old school comic heads are well acquainted with Borscht Belt comedy icon Henny Youngman’s “Take My Wife” bits.)
And then there is Jim Gaffigan. His wife, Jeannie, isn’t a target, she’s the Illinois native’s collaborator in the ultimate sense.
The Gaffigans have five children, and the family of seven somehow resides in a two bedroom apartment in Manhattan, but that’s another story. The Gaffigans also work together. In addition to fueling Gaffigan’s thriving stand-up career, their shared experiences have inspired the amusing new sitcom, “The Jim Gaffigan Show,” which debuted on TV Land last month. The show – no surprise – is about a husband and wife raising five kids in a two-bedroom apartment in Gotham.
“All the scripts were written by my wife and I and are inspired by real life events,” Gaffigan says. “But this is no way a re-creation of events.”
Comedy is typically based on a shard of reality to which hyperbole is added, and voila – 23 minutes of sitcom fun.
But sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Gaffigan, who will perform Friday at the Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary, specializes in relatable comedy, whether it’s on television or at a theater. He riffs about food (his bit on “Hot Pockets” is still hilarious a decade after he came up with it); he riffs on his family; and sometimes, religion comes up.
The Gaffigans are devout Catholics. So, will Gaffigan get to meet the pope when he visits the U.S. next month? “I think I was invited to do something when he comes to Philly,” Gaffigan says. “I’m not sure if I’ll meet him, but maybe I’ll see him from a distance.”
As cramped as life must be for the Gaffigans in that Manhattan apartment, the comic is sold on living in the city. “I love living in New York City,” Gaffigan says. “My kids are exposed to great diversity – economic, ethnic and social diversity. But it’s not like I’m taking them to a play every night.”
Granted, that would be difficult to do since Gaffigan is usually onstage when he’s not on the set or writing with his wife.
When comics reach a certain level of success, some decide not to revisit stand-up. When Drew Carey was asked about returning to stand-up, he balked. “Too much heavy lifting,” Carey explained.
But Gaffigan is a stand-up addict. “I don’t think I can ever stop doing stand-up,” Gaffigan says. “It’s my oxygen.”
He refused to detail the new material he’ll render when he hits the Cary stage during his “Contagious” tour, but he did reveal that he will perform his beloved “Hot Pockets” bit.
“They (the fans) don’t demand it, but I do it as an encore to avoid any anger,” Gaffigan says.
Gaffigan, who grew up in Indiana, smacks of the Midwest. He’s an easy-going but hard-working entertainer. “Where you come from has a way of impacting what you become,” Gaffigan says. “I’ve busted my butt.”
That’s particularly so when Gaffigan impressed on Broadway in 2011 in “That Championship Season.” He shared a stage with Kiefer Sutherland, Jason Patric, Brian Cox and Chris Noth (“Sex and the City,” “Law and Order”).
“It was amazing,” Gaffigan says. “Hard but amazing.”
Gaffigan wouldn’t mind going back to the Great White Way. “If the right role was presented to me,” Gaffigan says, “sure, I’d do it again.”
But in the meantime, Gaffigan is focusing on his sitcom, stand-up and film. Gaffigan appears in the movie “The Experimenter,” which will hit screens in October. “It was fun to play a guy from the 1950s, ’60s,” Gaffigan says. “It might as well have been 200 years ago in some ways. It was strange but fun.”
And of course, when Gaffigan isn’t working, he’s enjoying meals only a carnivore would love. But that’s how he grew up. His dad’s favorite meal was a steak.
“I am my father now,” Gaffigan says. “I’m eating a steak at this moment and it’s delicious.”