|Photo Credit: Mirka23|
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"If you listen carefully as he tears through his set, something else is apparent: Jim Gaffigan works clean. He resists profanity. He doesn't rip celebrities with crude insults. He won't reveal everything you didn't want to know about his sexual urges and private parts. At a time when comedy is as filthy as it's ever been—the industry euphemism is "edgy" — Mr. Gaffigan, working clean, has become one of the hottest comedians in the country. He was one of the top 10 touring comedians in North America last year, according to Pollstar. This Friday he begins a two-week, 16-city U.S. tour that will take him across the South and Midwest, with his entire family in tow (the kids will sleep on the tour bus between cities). Mr. Gaffigan's latest album, "Mr. Universe," was nominated for a Grammy. He has a book coming out in May, titled "Dad Is Fat" (it was the first complete sentence that his son Jack wrote).
And Mr. Gaffigan really has been preparing for a role. At 6 a.m. on the morning after his two sold-out performances in New Jersey, a car picked him up and transported him to his children's school, where he began six days filming a sitcom pilot for CBS, tentatively called "Gaffigan." He plays a version of himself, a hapless, chubby dad in what he calls a "non-adversarial marriage," raising five children in New York City.
The show is co-written with his real-life non-adversarial wife, Jeannie (though she is played by Mira Sorvino), and with Peter Tolan, known for writing "Rescue Me" and "The Larry Sanders Show," two series built around comedians (Denis Leary and Garry Shandling). CBS will announce in May whether it will greenlight the show as a series for the fall season.
It used to be that wholesome shows like this were the only kind that got on TV—and only comedians with squeaky-clean acts had a chance to make it so big. Bill Cosby, who worked clean, became the first African-American co-star of a network television show, "I Spy," at age 28 in 1965. Redd Foxx, who had begun performing earlier but worked blue, was 49 before he got "Sanford and Son." In 1967, Joan Rivers went on "The Ed Sullivan Show" eight months pregnant but couldn't say "pregnant" on TV. Now you can get pregnant on TV.
Watchdogs and Puritans have complained since ancient times about the coarsening of culture, of course. The CBS prime-time lineup Mr. Gaffigan is attempting to break into includes "2 Broke Girls" and "Two and a Half Men," successful sitcoms that have blazed new trails in explicit banter about oral sex. This past New Year's Eve on CNN—CNN!—comedian Kathy Griffin spent much of the night threatening to handle Anderson Cooper's crotch and kissed the mortified anchorman in the region. On Showtime the same night, Andrew Dice Clay, known for his dirty versions of nursery rhymes, had his first TV special in 17 years, a triumphant return to a now routinely vulgar entertainment world he helped create. Mr. Clay is as mainstream as ever—he will appear in the next Woody Allen movie.
In a climate where the profane has become mundane, sticking to clean comedy might seem like engaging in a form of monastic abstinence, or just square. For Mr. Gaffigan, "it's just how it comes out," he says, blaming his Midwestern roots. "There's something about cursing in public where I have a hesitation to do it."To read the rest of the article please click here.
For your viewing pleasure here's a clip of Gaffigan's bit on bacon: