Renowned actor, author and stand up comedian Jim Gaffigan brings his relatable observations and self-deprecating humour to St. John’s on The Pale Tourist Tour
A veteran of the stage and screen for over three decades, beloved comedian Jim Gaffigan brings his real life observations and, oftentimes, hilarious self-depreciating insights to Mile One Centre to kick off 2020 with some laughs on January 19th.
The Newfoundland Herald caught up with Gaffigan to talk the balance between work and home life, aiming to punch up, battling stage nerves and much more!
You’ve always been the type of comic who draws from your own life experiences and often poke fun at yourself before you would others. Have you ever been pressured to adapt a more rude or crude style?
There hasn’t been pressure. I think for me, I’m obviously human so there’s times when I’m tempted to do something. But then I’ll kind of like get a perspective on it where I’m punching down.
I remember when I released my first comedy album, I was instructed to curse because it would make it more appealing for teenagers. And I just thought that was so funny.
You know, I curse occasionally and it’s not like I don’t curse in everyday life. But if I’m writing and rewriting something, I can think of an adjective, you know? You want to remain authentic and also any kind of gimmick, I think an audience can pick up on it.
Your family is a major part of your act and career, in both your material as well as being part of the creative process. How is that dynamic, balancing art and family?
It’s a never ending process. I mean, the advantage of working with my wife is that there’s a shorthand where she knows the material and she knows my point of view. From the beginning of our relationship we always kind of worked together and that was one of the things that we bonded over was the same kind of approach, particularly for stand up.
We don’t really view the writing as an incredible laborious task. It’s something we have fun doing. I know that sounds kind of insincere. But it’s definitely complicated with five young children to find the time to do it like we used to. And it’s ever changing.
There’s been times when we could write when I got back from a spot and there’s been times when I’d be writing when she would be breastfeeding and there’s times we’d be doing something together and she wouldn’t be able to see the act for a month or so. Those end up all being kind of advantages where she has a fresh perspective on things.
Is there a place you feel more at home or comfortable when you compare stand up to writing or acting or any other medium you work at?
You know, I love acting and I love doing stand up and I love writing. The acting in particular provides kind of a forced break from stand up, even if it’s momentary. So they’re all so different that they can kind of feed each other.
I love acting, but I wouldn’t say that I prefer one over the other. But I do feel as though I’m very much a comedian. I’ve been doing it for 30 years. It’s not something that I’m kind of doing as a stepping stone.
For a tour like The Pale Tourist, how much pressure is on you to provide fresh material?
My tour is all new material. I think there’s an unspoken agreement with an audience that comes to a live show that not only is it new material, but it’s new material that is really good. I would never go to perform in a city if I didn’t have an hour of new material.
But I’ve been doing it so long and stand up is such a self-assignment thing. Some of it is also going to places like Newfoundland where there’s gonna be material that is specific and unique to that experience. So I selfishly get a lot out of it, too, whether it’s specific material about the area or it holds up a mirror to my own culture or my own experience.
You mentioned Newfoundland. Any thoughts or impressions on the place ahead of January 19th?
There’s some pretty fascinating places I’ve gotten to go. I don’t know what to expect. From comedians or even working with tons of Canadians in the entertainment industry there is Newfoundland and the mythology surrounding it. But then there’s also the experience of encounters on the ground. There’s so much of it and I’m kind of a nerd for history and culture. I have so many questions.
At this stage in your career do you find there are nerves before a live performance? Is there a process to help squash that before taking the stage?
Well, I would say that there’s not necessarily nerves, but there is a focus. I’m always working on new or newish stuff, so the focus is about that. But I don’t have close to the nervousness that I used to have. I used to really battle with stage fright. But I think there is a vulnerability that people find engaging for any performer. Someone that is a blanket overconfident person, we might feel comfortable around them, but you don’t feel a sense of empathy or humanity towards that person.’’
So I know that sounds kind of like a lofty thing, but the nerves or the concern are something that, and I would hate myself 20 years ago for saying this, but those are your friends. That’s what makes you human and what makes being a human live performance better than a robot.’’
Tickets available at the box office, by phone or at mileonecentre.com