While the thought of listening to an out of shape man joke about his hatred of the gym and his love for McDonald’s may seem unexciting, Jim Gaffigan’s Meliora Weekend show in the Alexander Palestra was very successful.
His warm up act, Tom Shilluie, prepped the audience and set the tone for the show, reflecting on his childhood and poking fun without being distasteful.
Gaffigan pleased a very diverse audience without being offensive or obscene. I was particularly relieved, since it’s always awkward to sit between your parents and listen to someone make lewd comments, or worse yet, to listen to your parents laugh at them. It was nice not having to feel uncomfortable and to just enjoy the show.
Gaffigan began by talking about the gym; his jokes were unexpected even though the topic was predictable. Similarly, his bit about McDonald’s allowed him to make fun of himself while also teasing the audience. Everything he said was true — that’s what made him funny.
He analyzed human behavior and the fact that we rationalize things that are delusions. His humor led him to analyze people’s misconceptions about “healthy food.” Never before would I have thought of McDonald’s as healthier than Subway, but, as Gaffigan said, what is a meatball sub other than six cheeseburgers rolled into balls on a bun? And it is so true that while many women are obsessed with shoes, no man has ever turned down a woman because he didn’t like hers.
He has a style of talking back and forth with himself, as if criticizing his own work on stage. After making a joke he would sometimes turn his head and sort of whisper something like “Really? A diarrhea joke?” This was a clever way of making the audience laugh at themselves for finding the joke amusing in the first place.
He also spent time pretending to be the subject of his jokes. After making fun of whales, he took the same approach of talking to his past self, now as if he were the offended whale. He made jokes and then commented on them as a way of making the original joke funnier.
At one point he simply pretended to be on the phone with someone. This was another clever way of commenting on the audience without directly making fun of them.
For his encore, Gaffigan turned to his classic bit: Hot Pockets. The audience loved it. It falls right in with his general theme of analyzing the strange things people enjoy. Hot Pockets, their many variations and their Canadian versions, all are equally disgusting in Gaffigan’s eyes.
Gaffigan’s sense of humor allowed him to state obvious facts in a clever manner. His jokes were appropriate for the situation and let everybody enjoy themselves. What could have easily been an awkward and unexciting show turned out to be an entertaining and enjoyable one.
Wentworth is a member of the class of 2011.