He’s more of an indoorsy kinda guy.
Comedy is probably one of the hardest gigs in showbiz; it’s gotta be a crapshoot trying to figure out just what makes people laugh. Jim Gaffigan is one of those comedians that causes you smile in anticipation of the funny, even before he opens his mouth. In his TV Land show The Jim Gaffigan Show: Season 1 (aptly titled), he is basically playing himself in a sitcom modeled after his real life, with wife Jeannie and their five, count ‘em, five kids, who all live in a two bedroom apartment in New York City.
If you’ve ever heard Gaffigan’s stand, up routines, he talks a lot about life with the family, food, and napping. And in The Jim Gaffigan Show his character does all of those things, nearly all of the time. But like I said, Gaffigan knows funny, and he makes the mundane absolutely hilarious. Each episode is like a crazy “day in the life,” of the fictionalized Gaffigan, but you get the feeling that it’s not too far from the truth.
Each 20 minute installment in this 11 episode DVD, adds up to hours of frolicking fun. No need to gird your loins for over the top political messages, or “special episodes” dealing with the latest social issues, you just watch, enjoy then repeat. And a bonus, it’s the kind of program that the kiddos might like too (at least mine do).
This cast is a perfect match to Gaffigan’s personality, especially Ashley Williams (A Most Violent Year) who plays Jim’s wife Jeannie. I love how she is as much a part of the craziness as he is; a devoted wife and mother who says she’d like a bigger apartment for her large family, but finds every excuse under the sun to stay put in their cramped quarters. These excuses range from, “Jim, the building across the street looks like a prison, to “We can’t live in an apartment where the previous owners got a divorce.” It would be easy to make the Jeannie character a wise and sage wife, who suffers valiantly with her childlike husband. But The Jim Gaffigan Show does a wonderful job of making her a real life flawed human being, with her very own hang ups.
Michael Ian Black (Wet Hot American Summer) is Daniel, Jeannie’s best friend, and former college boyfriend. Daniel doesn’t think Jim is good enough for Jeannie, and he uses every opportunity to let Jim know that. Daniel sells real estate, and has taken on herculean task of trying to find Jeannie that perfect apartment. Black plays well off of Jim’s sarcastic wisecracks, and their snide insults back and forth provide some of the funniest moments in the show.
Adam Goldberg (Saving Private Ryan) is Jim’s bitter best friend Dave, who’s also a comic, but not nearly as successful. Dave is a ball of negativity who resents Jim’s life, even though he would die before admitting it. Dave’s world is in a shambles as he goes from one woman to the next, all while living at home with his mother in a retirement community.
Rounding out the main cast are Tongayi Chirisa (Crusoe) as the Gaffigan’s priest Father Nicholas, and Blanca (Vanessa Aspillaga), the Gaffigan’s maid. Father Nicholas, is a happy man, far too happy for acrimonious New Yorkers, who brush off his positive attitude as he smiles and says hello to anyone he sees on the streets. Blanca is a vital part of the family (without her things would be even more chaotic), and she is a firm believer that Jim should never be left alone with the kids.
Like every sitcom starring a standup comedian, there is the inevitable comparisons to Seinfeld —a show that set the ‘comedian in a sitcom’ bar very high. Even though both shows take place in New York, and the lead characters are comedians, that’s where the similarities end. The Jim Gaffigan Show: Season 1 is its own separate animal. It is a truly fun time with quirky characters, and clever episodes that could easily turn into some hackneyed tired old tropes. However the smart writing takes those banalities and spins them in unexpected ways.
The Jim Gaffigan Show: Season 1 is a clean 1.85:1 DVD transfer, that displays, in all too clear detail the dirty, grimy, but lively streets of New York. The Dolby 5.1 audio is crisp and clear, making the dialogue very easy to hear. There are no extras in the barebones release, which is too bad, I would’ve loved to see the behind the scenes shenanigans, and the process it takes to put the show together. FYI, once the episodes ends, listen to the fabulous song called “Universe” by The Late Late Shows Reggie Watts, it’ll make you groove until the very end.
The trend of comedians transitioning to sitcoms isn’t new, but when it’s done right, they’re definitely worth paying attention to. Jim Gaffigan is one of those comedians that makes it look so very easy, when you know he’s worked his ass off to produce such a fresh and funny comedy like The Jim Gaffigan Show.
The Jim Gaffigan Show: Season 1 (DVD)
2016, Paramount, 232 minutes, NR (2016)
VIDEO: 1.85:1 AUDIO: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English) SUBTITLES: None
EXTRAS: None ACCOMPLICES: IMDB