Jim Gaffigan on gaining respect

Millions of TV viewers have seen Jim Gaffigan this week. He appeared in a Super Bowl ad for Sierra Mist, while Comedy Central has aired his latest special, "Beyond the Pale," several times in the past couple of weeks. A full-length DVD hit stores in early February with 26 minutes not seen on Comedy Central and several hilarious bonus features, including a sketch involving "comedy coach Arty Hittle" explaining the secrets of breaking into stand-up. Which makes watching Gaffigan’s first stand-up gig, from Jan. 27, 1991 (also on the DVD), even more illuminating. "People say, ‘Is that really your first time?’ You could tell I was nervous, though, right?" he asked me. Gaffigan felt out of his element at last month’s Sundance Film Festival, where he appeared in "Stephanie Daley" with Tilda Swinton and Timothy Hutton. "I’d never been there before," he said. "It was an experience in itself. Everyone thought I was (Philip Seymour) Hoffman." We can see the slight resemblance. "This business is about getting too much respect or getting none. I think being confused for Phil Hoffman was getting both," Gaffigan told me. "I’m a married guy, anyway, so it’s not like I was going to capitalize in a creepy way. So it was mostly awkward." Also awkward: Trying to describe his role in M. Night Shyamalan’s 2006 film, Lady in the Water, particularly because months...

Read More