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Inner struggle

Comedian Jim Gaffigan gets some laughs. The critics in his head get more.


Write a couple zingers about Hot Pockets, and you too - can sell out shows in Boulder.
  • Write a couple zingers about Hot Pockets, and you too can sell out shows in Boulder.

Comedian Jim Gaffigan hears voices in his head.

Actually, he hears one voice and luckily for him, it's funny. Anyone who has ever seen or heard Gaffigan in action can attest that the Indiana native and New York City resident offers a two-for-one comedy show. Not only does he feature his own unique brand of observational comedy, but he also mixes in the voice of a conservative-sounding middle-aged woman who has some biting comments about his material.

"When I couldn't get stage time during standup, I used to do characters on the lower east side of Manhattan, and one of those was a lady who just complained about the situations in the room," says Gaffigan, calling from his home in New York City. "In doing standup, it's kind of a no-no to comment on jokes, even though Johnny Carson did it. But it was also something that I kind of did in my everyday life as a great way to relieve tension."

Gaffigan's latest CD release, Beyond the Pale, features dozens of memorable interactions between his normal comedy persona and the lady in his head.

For instance: "I wish I was Korean," Gaffigan says, "because then my interest in Asian women wouldn't seem so creepy. Actually, I dated only one Asian girl but she was very Asian. She was a panda."

Then quickly, in the female voice, he deadpans: "I like pandas. They're endangered, fella!"

The overall feel of the character is that of a mother or a grandmother who never gets Gaffigan's jokes. This is why audiences can relate so well to the funnyman.

"It's very dry," Gaffigan says. "And it's weird because my material is very precisely written and efficiently written, whether I'm talking about escalators or Cinnabon. And then the inside voice has an element to keep it very organic."

Born the youngest of six kids in Chesterton, Ind., Gaffigan grew up in the shadow of former Hoosier comedian David Letterman, who ended up being somewhat of a mentor. Gaffigan appeared on the Letterman-produced show "Ed," and in the feature films Super Troopers and Three Kings.

While he still acts his TBS show "My Boys" is about to go back into production for a new season to air this summer the stand-up comedy world is more where Gaffigan has made his mark. He attributes a Midwest upbringing for his unique point of view.

"There's a sardonic side to Midwesterners that's kind of like, we want to remain polite, but we want to express our frustration, too," Gaffigan says. "As opposed to yelling and being truly hostile, we'd rather be sarcastic."

In today's stand-up world, Gaffigan stands out for his avoidance of curses and dick jokes. While his act has a relative sense of cleanness as he delves through seemingly innocuous material, he feels he does find an edge like when he pokes fun at the notion of Christians cutting down a tree and putting it in their living room to celebrate the birth of Jesus. But the 40-year-old funnyman is quick to point out that he's making fun of himself as a Christian more than anything else.

"It's weird you have no control to how you're known for something," Gaffigan says. "Some people will know me as the inside-voice guy. Five years ago, I was the manatee guy. I'm always working on new material. Hopefully it's my expectation in a year, I'll be known for something else."

Jim Gaffigan

The Boulder Theatre, 2032 14th St., Boulder

Thursday, April 12, 7 p.m.

and 10 p.m.

Tickets: This all-ages show is sold out; look for tickets around the theater.

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