His stand-up tours sell out. He's written two best-selling books. And he's appeared in movies ranging from Super Troopers to Hot Pursuit. Now America's most food-obsessed comedian is starring in his own sitcom. Jim Gaffigan and his wife Jeannie wrote and executive produced TV Land's The Jim Gaffigan Show, co-starring Adam Goldberg, Michael Ian Black and Ashley Williams. It officially premieres July 15, but you can watch the first episode now at JimGaffigan.com. We chatted with Gaffigan about his new show, the difference between TV and stand-up, and his food-loving fans.
Hi, Jim. What was the last thing you ate?
I'm eating an Italian sub right now, as we do this interview.
Do people still yell "Hot Pockets" at you on the street because of your famous stand-up bit on the subject? Does this make you annoyed, happy, or hungry?
What are Hot Pockets? No, seriously. Usually, at least twice a day, walking around New York City someone will yell “Hot Pockets” at me. I never know how to respond. “Thank you?” “Hello?
You have another well known bit on bacon. Do fans ever present you with bacon at shows?
Not nearly enough. I should identify some fans to bring bacon to the show. Then some could bring me toast, lettuce, tomato and mayo. Then we could get some of them to take me to the hospital.
What's the best thing about having your own TV series?
Writing and executive producing with my wife. It's a great way to make sure that I'm constantly in trouble. Now we can fight at home and at work.
As executive producer, does that mean you and your wife get to hire the caterers?
We do pretty well for food. We mentioned Shake Shack on the show a couple of times. They got wind of it and sent a bunch of burgers and fries to the set. It was great. I thought "This must be how models feel when a fashion designer sends over free clothes."
How is doing a TV show different than stand-up?
I’m used to working on stage, alone with a microphone – at night. Just me, a mic and my self-hatred. For an hour. Or maybe an hour-and-a-half. Now I’m working with more than 100 creative people for over 12 hours a day. You learn a lot about yourself in those situations. For instance, I learned that don’t like people. Or working. Frankly, the whole acting thing happens way too early. Today, my pick-up was at 4:15 a.m. Nobody sober is funny before noon.
In some ways, your show is like Louie. It's a single-camera sitcom about a comedian in New York City. Have you heard that comparison?
Louie is brilliant. And I think any comedian working today is going to be compared to him. Or to Seinfeld or whatever. Just how, with my looks, I'm always going to be compared to Brad Pitt.
Let's talk about casting. Adam Goldberg plays your aggressively single best friend.
Establishing my character as a fish out of water was a really important element for the show. Adam, in a lot of ways, is there to represent the quintessential New Yorker. Michael [Ian Black] plays a former boyfriend of Jeanine's and an out gay man. He's a comic foil. Sort of like the perpetually disapproving mother-in-law.
How did you choose Ashley Williams to play your wife?
Well, I'm kind of a sloth-like character. So it had to be someone that the audience isn't going to feel too sorry for.
You live with your wife and five children in a NYC apartment. Ever feel like hitting the road and never coming back?
I love New York. I love the energy. Everyone is a little odd. I’m considered normal in NYC. Where else am I going to get that?
Summer is here and we know you're famously fair-skinned. Do you have a skin care regimen to protect from being horribly burned?
Prior to kids, I never went outside. I'm what you call “indoors-y.” Now that I have kids with strange habits like going outside, it’s very annoying. It takes hours to cover our pale creatures with sunscreen.
Good to know. And thanks for talking to Maxim.
Sure. I'm hoping to be in a thong on the cover. Or maybe I'll wear my mankini.