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Jim Gaffigan: King Baby (2009)

Paramount Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 3/31/2009

All Ratings out of
Extras: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 3/17/2009

Stand-up comedians are a lot like rock stars, and not just because they both perform on stage. When both comics and rockers are young and performing for the first time, they are energetic and raw and seem to be trying as hard as they can. As success comes, the fire seems to die away. The person is still talented and the stuff is good, but not great. (I could list at least a dozen bands that I used to love and now...ehhh...) This is not the case with Jim Gaffigan in his new stand-up special Jim Gaffigan: King Baby. He brings his A-game and delivers one of the most satisfying stand-up specials I've seen in years.

I'd been aware of Jim Gaffigan as both a comedian and actor for several years, but a few years ago a friend gave me a few of Gaffigan's stand-up CDs and I was immediately hooked. His mixture of everyman observations combined with oddly clever observations reminded me of my own sense of humor. He punctuates most every joke with a feminine voice which is meant to represent an uptight woman who is offended and confused by his humor. I know that this affectation will rub some the wrong way, but it simply kills me. He occasionally goes blue, but for the most part his comedy is about jokes and not trying to be shocking. (Although this latest DVD has an "Adult Language and Situations" warning on the back. I find that odd, as I disagree and had planned to loan the DVD to my parents.) He gained a reputation for his routine on Hot Pockets, and if someone can get 10 minutes of material out of cheap, frozen meals, then they must have some modicum of talent. Following this, I got another of Gaffigan's CDs and was disappointed that it was all basically the same material. While I had enjoyed Gaffigan's stuff, I decided that he was a "one hit wonder".

Jim Gaffigan: King Baby has changed my mind on this. While the material here is certainly similar to his old stuff, it's all new (to me at least). Most everything here stems from two realms -- Gaffigan's laziness and his love for food...or both combined. He replaces Hot Pockets with bacon, but the routine is still priceless. Along these same lines, he also mentions ribs, bologna, and Waffle House. (Hey, I was just in Waffle House last week...nevertheless, this material kills.) He shares his views on being lazy by tying them into bowling, camping, shopping, and escalators. Again, nearly every topic which he tackles is something that most people experience in their everyday lives. However, for the most part, Jim Gaffigan avoids the Seinfeld-esque "Did you ever notice?" brand of comedy and he doesn't try to normalize things so much that he sounds as if he should be on The Blue Collar Comedy Tour. If anything, it's simply Jim being himself, like a one-sided interview. Only when he discusses religion does he wander into a category with which everyone may not be comfortable.

King Baby was recorded at the Paramount Theater in Austin, Texas. The special is set to air on Comedy Central, but the DVD runs 30 minutes longer than the TV special. Feel free to watch the concert on TV, but I recommend getting this DVD in order to catch the entire show. I've been a fan of stand-up comedy since my adolescent years, but I don't see many shows these days which truly blow me away. King Baby had me in tears from the get-go and I can't wait to watch it again. Gaffigan claims to be just one of us, he barely moves while performing, but his observations are dead on and they live up to one of the best rules of comedy -- It's funny because it's true.

Jim Gaffigan: King Baby is stuffed with hatred on DVD courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The show is letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain or defects from the source materials. I'm going to assume that this was shot with HD cameras, as the clarity and crispness of the image render a picture which is plagued by only mild video noise. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. This track shows an exemplary mix, as Gaffigan's voice comes through loud and clear and the sound from the audience is featured in the rear channels. This makes us feel like we are there.

The Jim Gaffigan: King Baby DVD carries several extras. We get three episodes (14 minutes total) of "Pale Force", an animated series which aired on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and pairs Gaffigan with O'Brien. The two play superheroes whose power is derived from their unnaturally pale skin. This is some weird stuff. I'm not sure where "Our Massive Planet" (7 minutes) came from, but it's a faux-nature show with Gaffigan giving inaccurate narration to footage of animals. "Never Aired British Interview" (6 minutes) is, well, an interview with Gaffigan for a British TV series. The interview deals with Gaffigan's tour, and could possibly be fake. "XM/Sirius Interview" (26 minutes) is a semi-serious interview where Gaffigan discusses his comedy and his life. "Atlanta: Meet and Greet on Demand" (10 minutes) is an interview with Gaffigan, who discusses the show. There are also comments from opening comic Rich Brooks, and some fans. "The Sexy Tour: Friday Night Stand Up" (11 minutes) and "The Beyond the Pale Tour: Friday Night Stand Up" (10 minutes) are simply a series of bumpers from Comedy Central featuring Gaffigan -- there is no bonus stand-up material here.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long