Gaffigan goes beyond the pale

Jim Gaffigan is one of the truly nicer and funnier guys I know. And I’m saying that even before typing in the part of the interview where he brings me down a peg or two. We talked recently while Gaffigan had a break from recording the upcoming TBS comedy, My Boys, which debuts around Thanksgiving. "It’s a million miles away when I think about it. Thanksgiving!"

Last night on Conan, Gaffigan celebrated the unveiling of an all-new Pale Force cartoon and a new page on Conan’s NBC online home for the series. "We’ve done three episodes of Pale Force and it’ll be interesting to see how popular Pale Force could get, or if people will go…not interested! People will love something that makes fun of someone of Conan’s status."

"I remember meeting you. You might identify with some of the pale thing. Because you’re a pale guy. It’s funny, because when I performed in Boston, and since the Pale Forces have started, there’s been a lot of pale people coming to the show. It’s the opposite of white pride. When you’re really pale, you think, geez, I’m the only one who spent an hour putting on sunscreen."

Did you have any idea that people would take to "Beyond the Pale" the way they have to specific bits like Hot Pockets? "On my Website, it’s weird, you never know, you just try to do something funny, and I had no idea, with the Hot Pocket, how many us eat as poorly as me…People who come to my shows. There’s the pale contingent. But there’s also a number of people who were not pale but came in these Pale Force T-shirts." That’s weird. "The weird thing is, there’s always a certain number of pale people at my show. There’s like the pale 15-year-old kid, the pale goth girl who’s 23, the pale 40-year-old couple." So all the main pale demos, eh? "Yes, all the scientific pale demographics."

"When I get my photograph taken, I always have red eye. And a lot of people don’t. If you’ve ever had red eye in a photograph, there’s always a certain amount of humiliation when you look at a photo with your friends and you’re the only one with red eyes — you look like you signed a contract with the devil."

Albinos must have it as rough as pale people, though, right? "That’s got to be tough. I’m pale, but I have blue eyes. That’s got to be real tough. In Pale Force, we fight crime with our paleness. We shoot lasers from our nipples." Um, OK. Go on? "When I was in high school and used to wrestle, I’d be in my singlet, and I’d be in great shape. The opponent would look at me and say, Oh s–-t, look at how pale that guy is!" Whether it’s Pale Force or Hot Pockets or his manatee joke, Gaffigan said he has no control over which ones become more popular than others. "People who enjoy your stuff really latch onto certain ideas."

For My Boys, TBS shot a pilot and ordered 12 more episodes of the ensemble comedy. "The TBS promo thing is very funny and I always get nervous," he said. "The last thing you’d brag about is your ability to be funny. I’ve always…it’s a crapshoot kind of thing. The fact that it’s TBS’ first scripted comedy and the fact taht they have such a success and track record (on TNT) with The Closer and Saved, these guys know what they’re doing. It’s just a completely different experience when you’re putting a show on one of the classic networks, like CBS." Which Gaffigan did years ago. "It’s why good shows tend to show up on cable networks. They give them a shot to find an audience."

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

View all posts by Sean L. McCarthy →