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Jim Gaffigan Chews up Everything but the Scenery as His Show Returns to TV Land
June 19, 2016  | By David Hinckley  | 2 comments

Jim Gaffigan opens his second season on TV Land by defiantly continuing to shatter all the rules of contemporary comedy.

The Jim Gaffigan Show, which returns with back-to-back episodes at 10 p.m. ET Sunday, not only doesn’t have a single dirty word, it doesn’t even have sexual allusions or double entendres.

And this guy has the nerve to call himself a comedian.

He is, however, one supposes, entitled. He is a comedian, and a funny one. This gig just happens to be on a channel whose mission is to provide family-friendly programming, like the vintage sitcoms that still make up the bulk of its programming.

TV Land has gradually been creating its own new sitcoms, betting that a significant audience today still wants comedy whose default mode isn’t predictable sex jokes.

Gaffigan can work adult territory. For this show he keeps it clean, and while that probably means working a little harder, the results are worth it.

The reason to watch the show isn’t because it’s clean. The reason is because it’s entertaining.

Gaffigan’s character on the show is basically himself, a standup comedian who lives in a New York apartment with his wife Jeannie (Ashley Williams, left, with Gaffigan) and their five children.

Instead of jokes about how hard it is to find time for sex, the running gags here more often concern Jim’s appetite. He’s never far from a snack or a meal, nor is he shy about praising whatever he’s eating or wants to be eating at the moment.

New York is a character in the show, and it doesn’t hurt that Gaffigan has a great Rolodex of show-biz friends who drop in. Adam Goldberg, for instance, plays Dave Marks, a fellow comedian who is Jim’s best friend despite being 100% centered on himself.

Performers from Chris Rock to Steve Buscemi routinely drop by.

The first episode of the new season picks up a theme that has run through the show almost as consistently as doughnuts.

That theme is fathers and fatherhood, and Gaffigan clearly feels we need to celebrate fathers more than we do.

But he doesn’t make that point with a sledgehammer. He walks around it, rarely referencing it directly, until he has it circled, surrounded and nailed.

Yes, things occasionally get a little sentimental, but mostly they’re funny. We watch Jim, the character, confront the subject mostly through encounters with a different sort of father: the Catholic priest, Father Nicholas (Tongayi Chirisa, left, with Gaffigan).

Father Nicholas was a world-class soccer player and Benetton model who gave up all of that because he felt called to become a priest. That leads Jim to think about whether everyone has a calling, a rumination that causes some of his friends to roll their eyes, but eventually leads him back to his own life.

It’s not the most profound show or episode ever. But it’s amusing and a bit understated, a concept rarely practiced on modern TV sitcoms. It’s also about something, and it goes for laughs that don’t involve a loud “Haw haw!” and an elbow in the ribs.

Jim deserves an extra dessert.

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It should be noted that Gaffigan's wife is a true partner in the family,as writer and co-executive producer. No doubt it is the combined minds here that keep the show funny, yet avoid the sexual cliches pf 21st Century sitcoms. Add to the old "dying is easy,comedy is hard" axiom: "clean comedy is most difficult". The Gaffigans know that their success in this business venture that includes on stage performances,books and now TV is dependent upon each other giving their all,not unlike marriage and child rearing. Those car ads starring Jim don't hurt the college tuition coffers either.
Jun 23, 2016   |  Reply
Cathy Backus
FIVE children on the Jim Gaffigan show, not two!
Jun 21, 2016   |  Reply
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