Review: Jim Gaffigan, “Noble Ape”

“What a beard!” “He looks like an out-of-shape Civil War general.”

Those comments about Jim Gaffigan come, of course, from the comedian himself, in his trademark inner voice that offers commentary during his own stand-up comedy act. And in Noble Ape, released this summer and broadcast for the first time on Thanksgiving by Comedy Central, Gaffigan has produced his most intimate and autobiographical comedy special. Certainly more personal than the first five. That’s partially by necessity.

As Gaffigan explains from the outset, his wife and writing partner Jeannie Gaffigan (with whom they made two seasons of The Jim Gaffigan Show for TV Land) had a brain tumor removed last year. “The tumor is gone, along with my ability to ever win another argument,” he jokes. “It’s not like I was winning a lot before. but now I’m retired.”

Jeannie also co-wrote and directed Noble Ape.

Which allows Jim to dig into why doctors compare tumors to fruit, why hospitals take their names from the Bible, and how Jim would have reacted if Jeannie hadn’t recovered from her cancer.

A Gaffigan special wouldn’t be complete, however, without some more jokes about food and his inability to do much of anything active to counteract his eating.

The comedian’s growing popularity has allowed him to tour globally, and if you follow him on social media, then you know he has taken the whole family with him now. Which also leads to multiple opportunities and perspectives for new observations, whether it’s using a public restroom in Japan or how the Chinese people “were fascinated with my pale blond children.”

Gaffigan’s most fascinating gig was performing for the Pope in Philadelphia a few years ago. Or should we say, for people waiting for the Pope. Either way, Jim Gaffigan did get to meet Pope Francis. Which was a big deal for a Catholic family.

This special is a big deal for the Gaffigans, too. It’s cause for celebration and some extra gratitude this holiday season.

Jim Gaffigan: Noble Ape is available to rent/buy most everywhere you want it, and streaming on Amazon Prime.

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.

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