Sunday, April 1, 2018

Going Going Gaffigan

We were going to see Jim Gaffigan last year in Auckland but the tour was cancelled when his wife's doctor discovered "a tumour the size of a pear" in her brain. So we went to see him last night instead...

And he was great, well worth the wait. 

Better still, his wife Jeannie is with him on this down under tour and, as he told us last night, is now in pristine, pear-free health, and was happily minding their five kids, who are also on the tour with them, back at the hotel. They were no doubt the reason the show was scheduled for a 7pm start instead of the usual 8pm. 

We were wondering how he would deal with this frightening episode in their young family's life and were impressed with his ability to joke about it - "I was thinking, if anything goes wrong, these kids are going to have to be put up for adoption!" - but still convey his genuine relief, love and gratitude for his wife and their kids at every turn. 

A good portion of his show is about his wife and kids, which is relatively new subject matter for male comedians, though "the wife" has of course been the butt of comedian's sexist jokes since the beginning of comedy, the kind of 'comedy' that adorns this charming black-painted van that has parked itself outside our house for the last two weeks as if trying to tell me something. My husband's not responsible for it, but some other lucky woman's husband/ex clearly is, as it's definitely the work of someone with a (very small) penis, and as such I am sorely tempted to spray paint over the opening 'you' and replace it with 'women'. But I can't be arsed with trolls.

Apparently this sort of cheap sexist comedy is still going strong for some. It's got a long pedigree of course. I remember Billy Connolly's joke about how a guy killed and buried his wife face-down in the garage with her bum sticking out so he would have somewhere to park his bike. He told that joke on Aspell near the start of his career, so I guess it worked for him then. Perhaps not today so much.

His later comedy, after he'd been happily married and a father for a number of years, was rather less sexist, and perhaps the comedy industry grew up a bit with him.

Gaffigan is considered a 'clean' comedian, unlike Connolly and most other male comedians, largely because he doesn't swear or tell jokes about killing women. But 'clean' is hardly an adjective any kind of artist would seek out or welcome as it suggests playing things safe and going with the mainstream,  which is not at all what Gaffigan does.

Rather than clean, I would say that Gaffigan is a clever comedian who knows that there is a place for swearing and on stage is not always it, though I have heard some very clever female comics make good use of various S, M, F and C words. But women swearing well tends to challenge stereotypes in a way that men swearing doesn't, and challenging narrow assumptions about groups of people is surely something that comedy and all art should do.

As far as the man-woman thing goes, Gaffigan, who writes with his wife, seems to get, better than most, that the best comedy is made from making fun of yourself first, those people who take themselves a little too seriously second, and third, those people who fuck up life for the rest of us (eg Trump voters and the van artist on our street), even if he is not what you would call a political comedian, although non-sexism from a male comic is fairly political.

Anyway, go see him if you get the chance, he's heading to Melbourne tomorrow.

I've been writing this on and off practically all day while trying not to take myself too seriously eating deep brown eggs, walking through water, partaking in family gatherings, speaking long distance to my mother and son, etc. So it is time to end it now (food is on its way).

I leave you with an image of the awesome eggs that my good man gave me today for Easter, which, apart from anything else, suggests to me that he, for one humble husband, does not wish he were dead. And thank fuck (and Jesus) for that!




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