Video interview: Backstage with Jim Gaffigan, talking Town Hall, prepping his new hour special

Jim Gaffigan performed an hour unannounced Tuesday night in New York City, as he works out the final bits of what will be his new hourlong Comedy Central special when he tapes it in Austin during the first week of December. Oh, yes, there will be bacon. And other "edgy" topics, too, for Gaffigan to consider and mine for punchlines. I caught up with him afterward backstage in the Comix "green room" to talk about how he’s using the weeknights to try out new jokes while touring theaters across the country on the weekends, about what it’s like to play multiple nights in a city at a theater instead of a club (including six shows at Town Hall here in NYC over Thanksgiving weekend), and much more. Gaffigan told me he hadn’t performed in the past four nights, as he’d just gotten back from a family trip to Disney World. You can watch some of our conversation right here, in intimate but spooky mirror vision, where my little Flip camera suddenly transforms into some odd-like little Big Brother, keeping an eye and red light on us.


More quotes, plus ticket info, after the jump…

Earlier this year, I also heard Gaffigan’s interview for XM Unmasked (which airs Nov. 1), and you get to hear a lot about how he felt he was struggling for years to catch a break. He told me the other night that he had listened to previous Unmasked interviews with Louis CK and Brian Regan, and that helped put him a frame of mind to really talk in-depth about his career. He also gave a new interview to A Special Thing.

"With the exception of you and A Special Thing and a couple of
things here and there, it’s like, most of the interviews are like: So, what do
you think of Robin Williams?! You know what I mean? So it’s almost, like, it’s
fun to talk to someone who…we’re all comedy nerds. It’s strange. It’s like
we’re all from an alien place," Gaffigan told me.

We also talked about how he has some old videos of when he was a relatively unknown comic but in high demand as an ad spokesman, and how his career looks different to him now: "I feel like I spent 90 percent of my career waiting for like Attell and Louis CK to be out of town so I could get a real spot, and then the
next day, I walked into like the Hollywood Improv and I didn’t know
anyone….it’s kind of, it’s a strange kind, it’s a strange business."

In a comedy hub such as New York City, too, you can see comedians move into the business in waves, or classes, as it were. I know I’ve seen a wave or even two just in the past 18 months I’ve lived in NYC, with bunches of newer, younger stand-ups moving in from everywhere, but particularly Chicago and Boston. Gaffigan started his comedy career after arriving in New York from
Indiana, but recalls facing all of the obstacles with similar faces…"Getting spots, and the different kinds of contests, and
like, finally getting a booker’s attention, and then, making money. But every
step of the way there’s a level of like, hey, am I through this door? Oh. Phew!
That was so hard, and, wait a minute. There’s more work? WTF? Because there’s
all these different steps."

"It’s really hard when you do clubs and you headline at a
club in Pittsburgh, or Chicago
or any of these different places, and you see or meet these great middles. Or
good opening acts. And they’ll go, hey, I’m moving to New
  York. You always sit there and go, it’s going to take
a while to break through. But then again, it’s like, my experience might be
different. So they’re like, hey, can you help me out with some spots? And I’m
like, well, I’ll send an email. And then there’s like they’re always here for a
month and they’re like, yeah, I’m sticking it out! And then two minutes later
they’ll say, why didn’t you tell me it was so effing hard?! And you’re like,
well, I didn’t know if it was going to be hard, because there are people who
come to New York and they seem to
be like, because there are comics out of town, and they get to showcase, and
someone kind of adopts them. But it is weird, the whole New York scene."

"By the way, you know we’re in the middle of a comedy boom.
The bottom could drop out at any point."

Want to see Jim Gaffigan perform on The Sexy Tour?

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 →