For a guy who delights in his own laziness and is committed to a life-long celebration of the mundane, Jim Gaffigan manages to surf the crashing waves of the modern world with fluid grace.
He's also one of the funniest people breathing air on our planet. His brand of humor is that of a self-effacing, slobbish Everyman whose barbed worldview has a delicious and twisty way of sneaking up on all sorts of denizens occupying the various demographics of popular culture. Plus, there's a unique element that comes from omni-present "asides" as Gaffigan portrays an audience member "commenting" in real time on his own performance.
In addition to his headlining career as a standup comic and choice acting gigs such as his performance as George in the recent Broadway run of "That Championship Season," Gaffigan is constantly exploring new possibilities.
Take his stunningly funny tweets, courtesy of an account with something Luddites are learning is called "Twitter," that are relished by more than a million folks.
Given his schedule, Gaffigan appreciates the possibilities of Twitter simply because tweets are, by definition, short.
"With tweeting, there is definitely the advantage of brevity, and it definitely works if your followers understand your point of view," says Gaffigan, calling from New York prior to his performance Saturday at the MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods. "On the other hand, there are plenty of people for whom sarcasm is lost on Twitter. Part of the fun is that hidden element - the unspoken implication and knowledge that you share with certain readers."
Gaffigan says he has several styles of tweets, ranging from "observational father" to "very dark." He refers to one of his recent posting - "I'm just glad I don't have to seek approval from strangers on the Internet" - and laughs, saying, "That's funny to me because that's exactly what I'm doing."
In April, Gaffigan self-released a new, 75-minute in-concert standup video, "Jim Gaffigan: Mr. Universe," as a download exclusive on his official web site. It's a similar strategy to recent efforts by Louis C.K. and Aziz Ansari.
"There are only so many traditional ways of releasing a product," Gaffigan says. "In my business, that would be Comedy Central, HBO and Showtime. But it's fair to say the pond is shrinking in a way. Comedy Central is great and I've done a lot there, but there are tons of fish in that pond and HBO and Showtime have pulled back a bit."
In addition to limited opportunity in a crowded field, Gaffigan describes aesthetic issues and the old and new ways of doing things.
"I'm a clean comedian, but I do talk about certain brands that are sometimes network sponsors, and that can become an issue," he says. "I don't want to have to deal with or encounter censorship at this point."
"Mr. Universe" costs $5 to download, and Gaffigan donates $1 from each sale to the Bob Woodruff Foundation, which benefits wounded service members, veterans and their families. So far, he says, sales have been encouraging.
"Louie (C.K.) did it and it worked, and it seems a unique point in the cultural lexicon to try something like this," Gaffigan says. "So far, it's been successful, but not so much that it's changed my life. To me, we're moving so fast in the Internet age that in three years' time the whole situation will be totally different. Which is why live performance can't be replaced."
That's fine with Gaffigan. Standup is clearly his favorite creative outlet, and he gets notably engaged when discussing the nuances of comedy.
For example, there's the issue of new material as opposed to relying on a "greatest hits" presentation. Gaffigan certainly has more than a few exceedingly popular bits, including ones fans shriek for about Hot Pockets, McDonald's, bacon and the culture of health clubs. If there seems to be a recurring motif therein, it's absolutely intentional.
At the same time, Gaffigan's very prolific and constantly coming up with fresh riffs.
"There are two sides to it," he admits. "On one side: am I tired of doing the Hot Pockets jokes? The other aspect is wanting people to enjoy the show. You have a certain responsibility to the audience and you want them to leave thinking, 'I can't wait to come back.' I mean, we've all left Broadway shows trying to rationalize why we just spent a hundred dollars. That resonates with me."
Gaffigan also points to certain subgenres within the standup culture.
"Certain comedians are attractive for their points of view," he says. "I'm a different kind of comic - not to say that people don't appreciate my point of view. But there's a style of vulture comedy that consumes the flesh of celebrity casualties. They don't care about the specific celebrity but the whole culture of celebrity."
"I'm pretty confident that no one's coming to see me do that or to see what I'm wearing or hear what famous person I'm hanging out with."