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Gaffigan is an ordinary guy with some extraordinary jokes

Heather Hayes

Deseret News

Published: Monday, Jan. 16 2012 9:48 p.m. MST

Actor Jim Gaffigan of the film "Salvation Boulevard" poses for a portrait during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival on Monday, Jan. 24, 2011 in Park City, Utah.

Associated Press

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Jim Gaffigan looks like an ordinary guy: thinning hair, pale complexion, paunchy in the midsection. In his case, though, being it-factor-deficient has been his golden ticket — and he's created a hilarious shtick around it.

To a sold-out audience of Jim-worshippers wearing T-shirts emblazoned with "And Cut!" or "Hot Pockets," Gaffigan's latest stand-up tour landed at Kingsbury Hall over the weekend. And while he didn't look the part of a celebrity comedian, successful actor, late-night TV regular and product pitchman, he proved he's all that and a bag of chips … or in his case, a side of bacon (Gaffigan has a well-known bacon obsession).

After taking his place mid-stage with stool and microphone, Gaffigan instantly had the audience eating out of his hand for an hour and a half with his blend of self-deprecating everyman humor and a gift for pointing out the absurd.

His quirky facial expressions, painfully funny alter ego and spot-on voices work so well, he makes you wonder why other live performances bother with scenery, songs, pyrotechnics, proscenium screens, sound systems and a cast when all you really need is this guy.

What's more, his jokes are clean and he's a family man. In fact, his first joke revolved around the arrival of their fourth child, certainly striking a chord with his Utah audience:

"When people ask me what it's like to add a fourth child, I say 'Imagine you're drowning … and then someone hands you a baby!' "

He also joked about the "nightmare" of skiing with little kids and the equally painful experience of being a Disneyland parent determined to convince himself he's having a good time.

"I waited an hour to go on the 'Dumbo' ride with my kid. When I finally got to the front of the line, I half-expected to see nothing more than an employee holding a mirror and yelling 'gotcha!' "

"Then," he continues, "there are the people that go to Disneyland without kids. They're called weirdos."

Of course, Mr. "Hot Pockets" took more than a few jabs at our society's love affair with convenience foods. This time, he laid into our love-hate relationship with McDonald's, Domino's Pizza and Subway. Gaffigan often takes audience members on a journey to the boardroom, where he acts out a bunch of suits coming up with new product ideas, like Domino's "pasta in a bread bowl," which he insists is so toxic it should come with an attached suicide note. And it wouldn't be a Jim Gaffigan show if he didn't act out the meeting to think up stupid commercial jingles like the "Hot Pockets" and "By Mennen!" masterpieces.

Gaffigan, like a growing number of other comics, is proving that the funniest stand-up doesn't have to rely on profanity to get a laugh. Quite the opposite, he has even called the overuse of profanity as a "crutch" in comedy.

Brian Regan, another funnyman visiting Salt Lake City this month with a similar reputation for clean comedy, broke a record at Abravanel Hall for the most consecutive shows scheduled by a comedian at that venue. What started out as five shows has quickly grown to 10, and many are sold out.

It's not "clean" Gaffigan's selling, but with so many everyday things to laugh about, it seems he needn't look any further than in his refrigerator, his sock drawer or at his local gym for good material. Like any true comedian, he has a knack for making anything and everything seem downright hilarious when put under the microscope.

Email: features@desnews.com

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