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Five kids, one tour bus. Will there be enough bacon? This is how comedian Jim Gaffigan will be making his way from the New York City apartment he shares with his wife Jeannie and five young kids to Chattanooga, where he will perform on March 17 at the Tivoli Theatre.
The family-packed tour bus will undoubtedly serve as a goldmine of new material for the seasoned comedian most notable for his Hot Pockets, bacon and other food-related bits from his 2006 “Beyond the Pale” and 2009 “King Baby” tours.
Gaffigan, who has made an unprecedented amount of appearances on the late night talk shows of Conan O’Brien and David Letterman, will make Chattanooga one of the first stops on his “White Bread” tour, giving us the opportunity to hear fresh material that the deadpan, observational humorist co-wrote with his wife (Jeannie Gaffigan is also producing the tour) as he told me in a recent phone interview.
“It’s rather unusual for a comedian and I didn’t really foresee it. I always knew my wife was funny,” he said. “It just ended up happening that way and now I’m completely codependent. It’s a secret weapon.”
With wife Jeannie producing all of his shows, Gaffigan is looking forward to having his family along for his tour. “It’s going to be pretty crazy, but as a father you want to try to limit the time you’re away from your kids.”
Although Gaffigan’s recently released book is titled “Dad Is Fat,” he generally keeps most of his fatherly humor away from the stage. “The book is a combination of observational and story telling,” he said. “I intentionally did not do that much kid material in my act. I had some, but not a lot because I remember being 26, doing stand-up and seeing people talk about their wife and kids and I’m sitting there going. ‘I can’t get a date, I don’t know what you’re talking about.’”
Realizing that family material doesn’t appeal to all audiences, Gaffigan has reserved most of that for his hilarious string of tweets on his Twitter account.
“When Twitter came along I was like all right, I’ll do a lot of kid stuff here. I won’t edit myself. And I’ve been getting some pretty positive feedback on Twitter, so I had all these observations that prompted stories, talking about the experience of being a parent but more of the fact that I don’t feel qualified to be a parent, because I’m a self-admitted lazy guy and sort of a selfish guy, so it follows sort of that journey. It’s not a complain-about-your-kids or an I-love-my-kids book, it’s just focusing on being funny.”
Gaffigan drew from his family in the early years of his stand-up career, taking inspiration from his sister to create his signature “inner voice,” on stage. “It was inspired by my sister, but a lot of it is the inner critic that we all have in those moments of insecurity and kind of just empowering it.”
Expect much hilarity to ensue with “Dad Is Fat.” Along with his new book, Gaffigan will soon be filming a pilot episode for a new sitcom on CBS titled “Gaffigan,” about his life with his wife and children (all of whom are under the age of 8), all living in their two bedroom apartment in New York. Mira Sorvino has recently been cast to play Gaffigan’s wife on the show.
Like almost every stand-up comedian, Gaffigan’s loyalty lies with the stage. “I love stand up,” he said. “As a comedian, you get rather spoiled by the control you have. You’re essentially a one-man band up there. I love acting, but there’s a lot of variables that you have no control over. I enjoy the ending and I the process, but the work that goes into getting an acting job is such a leap.”
“Portlandia” fans will be able to catch him guest starring on several episodes of the IFC show alongside creators/stars Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen, a project Gaffigan was pleased to be a part of, commending the creative duo’s improvisational humor.
“It’s all improv,” he said. “It’s a pretty amazing experience because these guys are doing a different kind of show, rather than some kind of traditional gag. Some of the network’s television jokes are just crude. They’re also just some of the nicest people in the world. Sometimes in entertainment you can run into some pretty peculiar egos.”
Gaffigan, who is not from a showbiz family and who graduated from business school at Georgetown, said that his education “prepared me for the fact that I didn’t want to work in finance. I did a stand-up seminar. My friend and I were doing improv and he dared me, and it was like I had been waiting for someone to dare me to do stand-up and we were going to do it together. But he ended up chickening out and then I did it on the side for a while and kept my day job for a long time. I’ve enjoyed it, it’s terrifying and fun, and there’s something magical about the whole process.”
Jim Gaffigan • $39.75/$49.75 • 7: 30 p.m. • Sunday, March 17 • Tivoli Theatre • 709 Broad St. • chattanoogaonstage.com