Comedian and actor Jim Gaffigan drew laughs from both UConn students and relatives alike during his Saturday night performance at the Jorgensen Center for Performing Arts as part of UConn’s Family Weekend.
Gaffigan, star of “The Jim Gaffigan Show” and hailed by Wall Street Journal writer Don Steinberg as the “king of clean comedy,” was a breath of fresh air in a cynical comic world otherwise loaded with profanity and controversial topics. His topics during his act were clearly geared towards either a general audience or older family members.
“It’s good to be here during Family Weekend,” Gaffigan said to the crowd. “When parents visit students and students pretend they don’t drink,” he continued, to widespread laughter from within the Jorgensen Center. It was moments like these where Gaffigan demonstrated both keen understanding of his target audience and a tasteful, hilarious ability to breach an uncomfortable well-known college standard.
As for what was expected, Gaffigan’s riffing on his own weight and his love for food gained cheers throughout the audience, even if it was from material that he had performed before. Though not exactly daring or as colorful as other comedian topics, Gaffigan had moments of wit, such as when he made fun of fish, claiming that it was a bad kind of food and the basis for the word “fishy.”
Gaffigan’s relative lack of profanity didn’t mean that he lacked edge. At different moments, he brought up challenging topics, such as religion, politics and drugs. However, Gaffigan navigated through these areas pretty safely and with harmless jokes for the most part, save for one extended story where Gaffigan continued to talk about what it was like living with a drug dealer.
“Jesus was a pretty ripped guy,” Gaffigan said in a later segment to much laughter in the audience, right after acknowledging that bringing up the name of Jesus already made people within the crowd incredibly nervous no matter their religion.
“I understand religious jokes make some people uncomfortable,” Gaffigan said. “Especially the ones going to hell.”
Even when receiving mixed reactions from the crowd or occasionally overdoing his wide variety of voices when exaggerating a scenario, Gaffigan expertly transitioned into the next topic or comment about his reception - an example of the comedian’s many years of performing stand-up, his already trustworthy reputation and his level of comfort with his audience.
Perhaps the biggest moment of applause came when Gaffigan was talking about his family and the challenges of being a father. After listing several difficulties of raising five children, he abruptly said the punchline, “the good news is that you die.”
Ultimately, he was a perfect blend of old-fashioned wit and observational comedy.
Anokh Palakurthi is associate life editor at The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.