PARK CITY, Utah –” I like to think of myself as the solid Parker Posey ,” says Jim Gaffigan, cradling a bottle of Sam Adams.” I’m the solid, less charming, nature little adorable Parker Posey .”
At 52, the “pasty-white comedian”( his terms) surfaced as the unlikeliest of Sundance Film Festival darlings, with three affecting indie movies debuting at this year’s fest: Them That Follow , about a snake-handling Christian cult in Appalachia; Troop Zero , a coming-of-age comedy alongside Viola Davis; and Light from Light , a superhuman thriller on the paranormal.
But those three flicks are just the first of seven Gaffigan-starring films positioned for liberate in 2019 — not to mention his highly seen stand-up comedy special for Amazon, the streamer’s very first, due later this year.
” It’s amazing. How many times can I say stunning ?” he asks, chuckling.” God, I’m so hysterical !”
We’re huddled together at a hotel rail in Park City, Utah, where Gaffigan, ecstatically exhausted, is lying in the radiance of his Sundance troika. It’s been a long road for the Indiana-born comic, who first affected the stand-up circuit in the early 1990 s, chipping his teeth in a range of commercials, part movie and sitcom constituents. It was only in the 2000 s that he prospered, his cheeky thinkings on nutrient, fatuousness, and fatherhood propelling him to the top of comedy mountain.
Now, he’s ready for his big screen close-up.
So the great Olivia Colman dallies your bride in Them That Follow .
Olivia Colman is fantastic . I feel like I’ve had this incredible stretch of working with amazing maids: Olivia Colman, Viola Davis, Marin Ireland, Allison Janney–just these incredible people who you can learn from but they’re also solid beings. There are a lot of parties you could lay in Them That Follow em> or Glowing from Light where-they have the ability and people like the idea of doing an indie-but then you’re in a Holiday Inn in Youngstown, Ohio, driving an hour into the mountains. Not everyone is cool in that situation.
Was your family with you in Youngstown ? b>
No, I was sounding in and out doing appearances during filming. The sacrifices that my partner undertake for some of these movies was not small. On Troop Zero we filmed, then drove to Mississippi and I did two establishes at this casino in Mississippi–at 8 p. m. and 10 p.m.–and my day has already begun at like 6 a.m. But it’s what I adore. You actually cherish those periods. Now, turning now to my partner and saying,” Because of Troop Zero ‘ s schedule I have to go and do a pick-up on this other movie on my day off ,” she’s a little like, ugh. But in the majestic programme of things, when it was discovered that my partner had this ability tumor, it didn’t look good. I lived in the reality for about a few weeks or two of,” OK, I’m going to be a single dad, I’m not going to be able to tour and do stand-up, I can’t do movies, I have five young children and can’t outsource this, I’m not even that good at being a dad, but at least I have to be present .” And so when the convalescence came in and it was like things were going to be OK, I felt when it came to these opportunities, I gotta do this.
That sounds like a lot of good information at once–your spouse gets the all-clear and then all these interesting move openings sprout up.
Yes! It was one of those things where … It’s a blur. It begin with Them That Follow , then Troop Zero , then this movie Gut Instinct that I shot up in Quebec, where I represent a drug dealer who essentially formulates a teenager. Like, I toy a really bad dude! So I’m thinking,” How do I turn this down ?” And my partner, who’s an actor, a director, and a columnist, is like,” I get it .” But when it came to Light from Light , I was kind of propagandizing it a little bit. I told her,” OK, in August I’m going to be in Knoxville for 2 week ,” and she was like, “< em> Okayyyy !” She really is a trooper, and I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t think it was going to be such a special film. I haven’t gotten opportunities to play someone who’s this quiet.
You said you were living in that mindset, and then Light from Light em> comes along, and you have to play a widower.
I knew what it felt like to be on the edge of losing person. And we’ve all lost someone, and depleted those two weeks in the hospital losing someone, experiencing that maiming suffering. In Light from Light , there are other points that build that character I dally, but I felt that I knew this person, and I can do this. Plus, if you get an email from[ creator] Elisabeth Moss saying you should really do something, you think, “OK!” It’s not every day you get an email from person like Elisabeth Moss saying,” You are right for this role .”
These are very different characters–a widower, a snake-handling Christian cult member, a gentle leader . strong>
And I too did this movie American Dreamer , where I frisk this rideshare guy who eventually seizes a drug dealer’s child! It’s insane to think of these opportunities but there’s also a part of me that contemplates,” OK, maybe the universe could have spread this out over the 30 years I’ve been trying to get acting tasks .” But I’m so grateful for the opportunity.
Plus you’re the toast of Sundance this year! So much so, in fact, that you got written up in Page Six –which must be a first for you.
I was back in my hotel office at about 11 o’clock, going through Google News, and I see that and think,” Did I say something ?” And it’s essentially what occurred–which is nothing. It’s not like I said anything negative or like your best friend are now saying,” He’s against trans liberties !”
It’s definitely comical. Although I guess it speaks to your level of celebrity at this carnival, in an odd mode. And you’re the first big-hearted stand-up comedian on Amazon, which is huge. Did you get that Chappelle bag ? b>
[< em> Laughs ] The coin thing … Here’s what I was told, because I joked around about it today, and my publicist was like,” Don’t discuss the money! We don’t want people to think you didn’t get the money, we don’t want people to think you did get the money .” It’s funny because, I would talk about it in other interviews, saying,” When is Amazon gonna step up? When is Apple gonna strengthened in ?” So other jesters are like,” Do you think they predicted that section ?” and I’m like, “No!” I’m agitated to be the first, because it’s not like they said,” Oh, we want you and these 10 other people we could get .” I’m happy to be the guinea pig. And I enjoy Netflix and affection Comedy Central, but there’s a certain group of beings that aren’t going to watch Netflix and almost all I know uses Amazon. But I’m biased, because it’s my special!
So it’s taping March 9 in Minnesota. Any idea when it’ll premiere on Amazon?
And it’s directed by my spouse, who’s aimed all my specials. But I don’t know when it’s going to premiere. I spoke to my director and was like,” When are we going to find that out ?” and he’s like,” Let’s take a breath–you’re at Sundance right now .” But it’s great. Amazing. Marvelous .
We’re in this fascinating golden age of stand-up–and Netflix altered everything. You can even be a not-so-talented comic and get a pretty big payday for a stand-up special. How do you feel about this bubble? Is it going to burst soon?
Not to seem too much like key experts on this but there is the stand-up that you discovered as a kid that was underground in New York –” I’m doing this and these fuckin’ schmucks aren’t “– and that existed because there wasn’t an accessibility to it, whereas because of YouTube, because of satellite radio, and because of Comedy Central, which has participated greener days, people developed an appreciation for stand-up. When I started, it was combat. It wasn’t as bad as earlier generations–I’m not saying I know what’s like to go on after a stripper–but it was combat in that the audience didn’t know how to behave.
With Seinfeld , it was really interesting that for this underground occupation, he was the guide. But again, through YouTube, satellite radio, Comedy Central, and the most recent iteration, Netflix, there’s been an education. It used to be that to be the best comedian in the country–George Carlin, Jerry Seinfeld, Sam Kinison, Chris Rock, clearly Pryor–what build those people unique was that they were funny to parties that didn’t come from that nature. Richard Pryor is probably the classic sample: he’s from Peoria, he’s incredibly prone, he’s telling these moderately horrible tales, and that vulnerability transcended scoot, gender, and socioeconomic standing.
I don’t know when it shifted. The sheer number of comedians has grown exponentially though, and it used to be rare to do numerous specials. Chris Rock in the’ 90 s did a few cases, Eddie Murphy did two, Steven Wright didn’t do too many. But we now live in this age where there’s a huge population that wants to consume stand-up and the stores for it. The question is, when you ask your friends,” Hey, did you watch this special ?” the best evaluation is,” Yeah, I finished it .” You watched Robin Williams’ special all the way through. I hang around Seinfeld a lot and he’s always like,” Where are they going to be in five years old ?” And he’s talking about these beings that are < em> monstrous . Like, is it their spirit? And I think it’s an interesting question.
Well, in the case of Louis C.K ., I’m not sure where he’s going to be in five years old. But my publication with Louis, aside from leading after the Parkland kids –which I only thought was a little lazy–was that I don’t think he’s even personally rationalized to the women he targeted, or done any work to rehabilitate himself. So there’s been a lack of repentance and self-reflection on his part, which is weird for someone who traded in that so heavily in his stand-up.
Let me say something that you might find irking: I agree with everything you’ve said. I anticipate Louis is a genius. I’m a comedian and am never going to be an advocate for censoring. The Parkland joke? I wouldn’t make love, but I’d never censor it. Like Ricky Gervais, I guess any topic can be funny. But watching this “comeback,” as an American, Americans love a recovery floor, and he’s smart enough to figure it out–whether it’s in six months or a year. Whether he’ll return to his prior status, I don’t know. People think it’s crazy when I say this, but I review the media can’t quit Louis.
There has been somewhat breathless media coverage of his “comeback” depicts.
Yeah —< em> accurately . The other issue is, Louis was already one of very good humorists in New York when I started–he and Dave Attell. It was beyond a doubt. Every comedian knew. But the thing about Louis is, there are other things going on. And it’s commerce, and beings are preoccupied. I see it in my Google News feed every time he does a aim:” Louis did a start .” And there’s something fascinating about that.
It really is a time to also step back a bit and listen to what maidens are saying. I think that’s a big edition with Louis’s “comeback”: he didn’t listen. And I don’t want to speak for women comics, but I imagine it’d be jolly uncomfortable to be on a legislation with Louis.
It’s such a minefield, so my mindset is just to sit back and learn. I look at my material and, while it’s not created on impertinence and isn’t “bro-ish,” I don’t really have to worry about it. Let me likewise say something: I’m a comedian, I don’t believe in censoring, but everyone censors themselves. This fucking farce of,” No one can tell me what comes out of my cheek !” Come on. You’re censoring yourself all the time . We live in an editing world–and comedians are the best journalists.
This is the most prolific you’ve ever been, at 52 years of age. You’ve been working a long time to reach these statures . b>
You know, it’s weird because I’m grateful that you’re saying that, but there’s nothing naughty about anything that I do!
Page Six contradicts ! b>
[< em> Laughs ] Page Six agrees! And I’m unusually jittery, dealing with here the gender issues of today. But I don’t pedal in impudence. Like look, I don’t like Trump but it would be inauthentic for all my tweets to be blaming him. Sometimes I study, if I could articulate some of that on social media maybe I’d have a million more admirers, but I’m too age-old enough to know that I’m not search honour, I’m aiming possibilities. So I’m elicited for people to see Light from Light , Troop Zero and Them That Follow em> primarily so that they can believe that I’m a good actor, so that when there’s discussion of a movie, they don’t go,” Oh, the comedian ?” and croak” Oh, that guy’s a comedian but I understood him in this thing, and he can behave .” That’s the central incitement circumventing it.
Did you always want to act ? b>
Yes. Ever. It was something I ever did simultaneously with stand-up, but not with any success. When my first humor special Beyond the Pale was secreted, there was a USA Today blurb that read,” Sitcom actor Jim Gaffigan tries stand-up .” I’d been doing stand-up for 10 years, but the knowledge was, oh, this guy from That’ 70 s Show is trying stand-up. So you don’t have authority over the sensing of it. I’ve always wanted to get some of these roles, though. I did this movie called The Great New Wonderful , which was a great movie, it was at Tribeca, and I foresaw,” Here we go! People are gonna know that I can act !” Nothing . Then I did a play on Broadway and supposed,” People are gonna know! They’re gonna know I can act now !” Nothing . Some of that is bad luck, some of it is that I live in New York and not L.A ., but there are more beings now who belief I’m an actor.
Have you been seduced to start a podcast? A parcel of comedians have’ em these days.
You know, I have a different faith on that. I think it’s great for my friends who have podcasts and it helps some of them “ve been coming” with information, but I think some of the mystery goes lost. If they hear you talking for an hour-and-a-half once or twice a week, why would they need to see you do stand-up? They know your point of view on everything.
I feel a lot of those people have an virtually Bill Maher-esque relationship with their followers where I’m not sure if they’re going to the stand-up show to see jokes so much as see their hypothesis be reinforced. Maher’s stand-up is very similar to his HBO show, and it’s just a lot of woo-wooing from the audience as their beliefs are reinforced.
Yes . It’s interesting–you always write on Bill Maher. You “ve got something” with Bill Maher. And I have friends who have a similarly conflicted perspective on Bill Maher.
Yeah, I grew up watching Politically Incorrect with my family and experienced the format and conversation, but there’s a point where the anti-PC crowd sometimes crosses a line and aligns themselves with awful people, and I think he often traverses that line–because there are good faith anti-PC people–those who genuinely endorse the First Amendment–and bad faith ones who time wish to say repugnant shit without any reprisals.
I’m not criticizing you, I’m mesmerized by it. And plainly you’re the type of person who wouldn’t give a shit either.
That’s true. So, this is the worst transition ever but I have to ask: those serpents you treat in Them That Follow , were those real ? b>
Oh yeah. Those were non-poisonous snakes, though. But walking around Times Square in New York City, there’s always some crazy chap time wearing a snake. Like, that’s just his thing. That’s his part. I’m the snake chap . [< em> Laughs ]
It’s almost a rite of passage. With all this stuff you’ve got going on, do you ever sit back and think about where you were 30 years ago and where you are now?
I remember it wasn’t too long ago that my wife was recovering from having this brain tumor removed, and then my comedy special came out. And I’m on the telephone with someone from AV Club and they were like,” Why are we doing this ?” and I was like,” I don’t know why we’re doing this .” Because in the gloriou planned of things, it doesn’t matter. Thirty years ago, I was very angry and impatient because I anticipated my indignation would help change things. But it doesn’t.
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