Jim Gaffigan is a comedian obsessed.
On a superficial level, Gaffigan continues to be obsessed with food. It’s definitely food. It always has been. From Hot Pockets to bacon to well, everything else.
If he continues to be a glutton for his own punishment, then it is serving him well, indeed. His first book, “Dad is Fat,” debuted last May via Crown Publishing and spent 17 weeks on the New York Times best seller’s list — it came out just this past week in paperback — securing him a deal for a second book of essays, “Food: A Love Story,” available for pre-order before its release this fall.
Jim Gaffigan’s fourth stand-up special, Obsessed, which debuted tonight on Comedy Central, whets your appetite for that. Consider it the intermezzo between books. The amuse-bouche, if you will.
And quite amusing he remains.
The extended CD and DVD editions of Obsessed include 28 minutes of material that didn’t make the 42-minute Comedy Central edit. For those of you who want to see just how obsessed Gaffigan is with savoring every ounce of meat from the bone of each joke.
After a nod to fruits and vegetables — Gaffigan doesn’t recognize apples if he sees them outside of a pie, and thinks we shouldn’t recognize the right to vote for anyone who uses too much ranch dressing on vegetables (why are they eating those veggies in the first place?) — he shifts his focus to the “good” foods. Donuts. Southern Food (’tis the biscuits and gravy that makes Southerners slow). Fried Bread (the opposite of every diet). Ice cream by the pint, eaten while wearing sweatpants “like a man.” Gaffigan imagines old people have the facial expressions they do because they realize they could have eaten even more ice cream. Instead, their kids are trying to make them eat kale.
Why is anyone eating kale? Gaffigan asks the hard questions. Roll the clip.
Our culture already treasures shellfish, though. Gaffigan wonders about that, too, because isn’t shellfish essentially bug meat?
Gaffigan probably will eat it when he’s traveling on the road from Maryland to Maine, however. “I always eat the local specialty. Because I’m a pig.” Since he lives near New York City’s Chinatown, he sees a lot of Chinese cuisine as he walks his neighborhood, which makes him wonder why they still haven’t figured out a just dessert. And fortune cookies don’t count.
On his 2012 special, Mr. Universe, Gaffigan’s bit about McDonald’s put audiences in their place about not only food snobbery, but also expanded it to include other cultural norms. Here, on Obsessed, he notes the dichotomy between how we’re treating and eating Kobe beef, as if “now we have to eat things that led a life of luxury,” while continuing to avoid questions about the origins of hot dogs.
But if there’s a track on Obsessed that makes a bolder statement, as did his “McDonald’s” bit, then here, it’s his take on “Weddings.” For watching one of his five kids get married is not enough incentive for him to start eating better. Participating in — and paying for — a wedding sounds as appealing and as appetizing as it would be were he doing it as a cast member of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Parents cry at weddings, Gaffigan surmises, because they cannot “believe we’re still wasting money on this!”
If you’re too full on food talk, know that Gaffigan has time to tackle other topics, too. The mythologies of Victoria’s Secret and Mount Rushmore. The taboo of cancer. Public restrooms. The late-night patrons of bars acting just like small children. The expansion of hair products.
It’s not weighty stuff, to be sure.
But it’s tasty.
Just like a donut.
Filmed in Boston near the home of Dunkin’ Donuts, Gaffigan notes: “Donuts are bad for you. And according to my health-nut wife, they’re not appropriate for a trail mix. I’m just on a different trail, right? Mine leads to the emergency room. That joke will be even funnier when I die from cardiac arrest.” To which his inside voice responds: “That’s why I didn’t laugh!”
Here’s hoping he has many happy trails ahead.
Time to eat the donuts!
“Jim Gaffigan: Obsessed” debuts Sunday on Comedy Central. An extended and uncensored version will be available online via the Comedy Central app. DVD, CD, Blu-ray, vinyl, direct download also for sale on various formats and platforms Tuesday.