When he became a comedian, Indiana native Jim Gaffigan decided he would "tackle the mundane." He stays true to that ideal in his new Comedy Central special, King Baby
, where he riffs on bowling, escalators, camping, bacon, being a dad, fast food and Waffle House restaurants.
His approach continues to work, as you'll see on TV or on May 15, when Gaffigan returns to the Murat Theatre (8 p.m.; $33-$40; 317-231-0000).
I talked to Gaffigan a few weeks ago during a break from shooting the new season of the TBS sitcom My Boys
. He was his usual affable self, whether he was talking about Pale Force
(his cartoon with Conan O'Brien), his guest spot on HBO's Flight of the Conchords
or the "inner voice" he uses as a comedic device to comment on his own jokes.
"I haven't done an interview in a while," he said at one point, "so I'm not as sharp on my well-crafted responses."
You be the judge.
NUVO: Why did you choose to record the new special in Austin?
Gaffigan: I looked at different cities, and I considered Indianapolis, too. Some of it was availability for a weekend. I also wanted to do a small theater -- the Murat is 2,400 and I wanted to do one that was 1,500. It ended up that I'd done a small theater in Austin before. I travel constantly and I did like the city. The theater has a nice kind of vibe and it's a place where you feel that they kind of get you. Of course, when you're doing theaters, they kind of get you, anyway.
NUVO: I always wondered if you were more successful in the Midwest because you're from here. I didn't know if hip cities like Austin gravitated toward you.
Gaffigan: It's something that I'm very proud of. I did six shows in New York, five shows in Austin and six shows in Boston. I'm very Midwestern, but maybe because I've lived in New York so long, there is an urban side to me that happens to appeal to people who happen to not be from the Midwest.
The whole Midwestern sensibility, I don't shy away from it. I am who I am, and I realize how Midwestern I was when I moved to New York. I happen to be a clean comic. The clean thing is purely a coincidence and the Midwestern part I can't really help.
NUVO: In the new special, you're taking the inner voice to a whole new level.
Gaffigan: I toured with this hour and it got to the point where people were coming up to me and saying the inner voice wasn't in there. But I do open with the inner voice for a good minute and a half.
The inner voice is something that I do unconsciously in some ways. I definitely set it up at the top and then hopefully splice it through. It's weird: Do you sit there and write stuff specifically for the inner voice? I always have the intention of doing that, but I feel like some of that is an extra personality in my head that chimes in at times.
NUVO: How's the new season of My Boys
Gaffigan: I've got a small, recurring part and I work with a great group of people. It's a nice opportunity for me to get my family out of the cold and be in L.A. for a couple of months.
NUVO: How was doing Flight of the Conchords
Gaffigan: Flight of the Conchords
was fun, but it's also a classic example of people doing things their way and sticking to their voice. There's a certain bravery and a certain stubbornness to that that I just find incredibly admirable. They know their comedic points of view and they stick to it. I learned a lot from being on that show.
NUVO: Are there plans to do more Pale Force
Gaffigan: Conan is moving to The Tonight Show
. We don't have any plans to do more Pale Force
. They were going to release a DVD, but I don't know what happened there. There will be some episodes of Pale Force
on the King Baby
DVD (which comes out March 31).
is really fun. It's a lot of work, but I love Conan. It's fun to do, but it's hard to find the time. Pale Force
was creatively rewarding. It wasn't a gigantic hit, but we got an online Emmy nomination. Those Webisode things are an interesting deal. We're really entering an interesting time in television. I think things are going to change completely.
NUVO: In what sense?
Gaffigan: The expense of doing a TV show is a variable. The simplicity and the inexpensiveness of doing Webisodes is a variable. And the fact that our computers are going to be our TV screens soon is a variable also. I don't necessarily know what's going to happen with TV.
But that's what's so great about standup: You're going on stage in front of strangers and you're attempting to make them laugh. But you have more control than you do in any other aspect of the entertainment industry.