An actor and comedian given to shrewdly observant romanticizations of laziness and over-indulgence, both personally and societally, Jim Gaffigan has a keen sense of and appeciation for language, which helps him flirt around the edges of a joke, so that he’s never really dependent on pure repetition to milk a laugh. The highly anticipated follow-up to his platinum-selling Beyond the Pale, Jim Gaffigan: King Baby finds the Indiana-born comedian wrapping up his 2008 tour with a final night in Austin.
A portion of King Baby, which runs around 70 minutes, takes aim at food, from the spelling of bologna (and inclusion of olives in some varieties) to mood dining and the plasticine decor of fast food restaurants. Bowling also gets quite a bit of run (“No one’s ever jealous when they find out you went bowling…”), though clearly from an affectionate place. But Gaffigan is just as also likely to pivot from a seemingly rich topical stomping ground and take it in an unexpected direction. A run on camping (“If it’s so great, why are bugs trying to get into my house?”) gives way to an extended bit about bears, and the ludicrous advice of playing dead if attacked by one (“As if bears have some ethical code!”). Gaffigan also riffs memorably on hammocks (“Ever get in a hammock with someone else? You’d better be dating them, because it looks like you’re trying to start a family…”); while delivered at a comfortably conversational pace, other observational jokes are nicely sprinkled throughout, and seem like quick-hit cousins of some stand-alone, deadpan Mitch Hedberg lines.
Holding this all together is Gaffigan’s tremendously sympathetic nature and demeanor. Scattering his set with whispery, high-pitched asides that serve as self-effacing buoys, Gaffigan comes across, in the very best sense of the phrase, as workman-like. This means the jokes at his own expense (“Look at him — his head is huge! It could be a mascot… for Mormons!”) aren’t desperate or keening — sad attempts to win over audience sympathy and cheap yuks. No, instead, they flow freely, and sincerely, from his own sense of humor and laidback personality. Watching Gaffigan’s set, he seems to retain a (Midwestern?) core decency born of the principal that reward deserves to be met with continued effort, and opportunity with appreciation. That he’s funny is indisputably a given; he also seems like a fundamentally good guy, too, which makes him even more endearing.
Housed in a white, regular Amaray case, King Baby is presented in widescreen format, with English language stereo and 5.1 surround audio tracks. Unlike many other stand-up comedy titles, King Baby comes a solid slate of supplemental bonus features, including a never-before-aired British interview, meet-and-greet footage from Atlanta, extra material from the Beyond the Pale tour, an XM/Sirius interview and all sorts of extra material, which targets neighbors, Gaffigan’s inner monologue and the Transportation Security Administration. To purchase the disc via Amazon, click here. A- (Concert) A- (Disc)