Review: Jim Gaffigan “Mr. Universe”
When Jim Gaffigan announced his plan to self-release his latest stand-up special it wasn’t really surprising. The trend has gained momentum amongst comics with a fanbase big enough to support the idea. Mr. Universe you are a good guy, so now is your time and we need the pale force.
Gaffigan stands in small and unique company. He’s one of the few comedians that works clean and has an act for nearly anyone to enjoy, yet he’s still able to walk the line where he’s edgy, respected by peers, gets critical acclaim, and makes a decent living at it. Like Bill Cosby before him, Brian Regan next to him, and maybe Pete Holmes after him, Gaffigan is a stellar clean comedian because he follows his muse, it just so happens there’s a lot of snacks where the muse is headed.
The special kicks off with Gaffigan strolling into Washington DC’s Warner Theater to a Reggie Watts-scored soundtrack he then patiently waits in the front row for the show to begin. Once its showtime we’re filled in on what he’s been up to since King Baby and baby is the word. Jim’s a new dad for the 4th time over (he’s “Amish”) and like Patton Oswalt’s most recent special, it allows the chance for the transition into nearly 20 minutes of material ranging from child birth, getting no sleep, bed wetting, and family vacations. It’s not material that wasn’t covered before but in the hands of Gaffigan, it’s elevated to something that’s smart, conversational, and damn funny.
In fact, that’s a statement that could be applied to much of Gaffigan’s act. He’s just so good about it, he can take such simple and relateable concepts, dust them off and give them one hell of an original shine through his effortless delivery and general good-natured vibe. Gaffigan doesn’t want to offend anyone, he’d rather you laugh your ass off. Something I’ve always admired about him is that my mother would find him hilarious (she has a great sense of humor) and I’d still want to turn to a friend and say, “this guy has a killer 10 minutes about bacon!”
Another big part of Gaffigan’s delivery is his aside voice. It’s a unique part of his act that he uses with amazing effectiveness to give an fictional voice to the thoughts of his audience. It could represent that voice in our head we all have when we’re unsure about something, Gaffigan has just been able to externalize this voice and give it a condescending lady vibe.
It’s probably most impressive watching him take the piss out of big business. He tackles Disney, McDonalds, and Subway with such surgical efficiency. It’s more devastating than any carpet bomb any other comedian would drop. In fact, it appears so harmless and endearing these companies might actually thank him for the jokes about their brand. Gaffigan revealed on The Adam Carolla Show that this material in particular was a motivating factor in self-releasing this special. He performed material about McDonalds on Comedy Central’s Night Of Too Many Stars and the network was most weary of running this material about a sponsor than they were about the racier jokes delivered that evening.
Gaffigan is also pretty obsessed with food. He’s known to have long bits about everything from bacon to Waffle House. And lest we forget, Hot Pockets. In fact he discusses food so much the special could easily run with the longer title, “Mr. Universe… is hungry. When do we eat?” But for lack of a better way to put it, that is the comedian’s bread and butter and why stop doing it when he’s so damn good at it? Jim is a master at pointing out the ridiculousness of food and our approach toward it. I can’t figure out how he manages to get something so fresh out of subjects he’s well-worn but once again he managed to do so.
Mr. Universe delivers another solid
hour 75 minutes of Jim Gaffigan doing what he does best – entertaining them all. He may have gotten the title of his special while on a jag about exercise, but it’s this basic premise that dominating mass appeal gives him the greatest strength.
Mr. Universe is available for download/stream for $5 on www.jimgaffigan.com. For every purchase, $1 will go to the Bob Woodruff Foundation to help veterans.