While the presidential candidates are debating the war in Iraq and health care, comedian Jim Gaffigan deals with "the hard-hitting issues, like bacon and escalators." A late-night talk-show staple and regular on TBS' "My Boys," Gaffigan will also appear in an episode of HBO's "Flight of the Conchords" next season. His stand-up tour comes to the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre Saturday, Sept. 20.
You're a comedian with a hefty list of movie roles, not the least of which is Larry Johnson, the meowing cop from Super Troopers. You're also currently starring in TBS' "My Boys." Is acting just another venue for your comedy or will you try out different characters, funny or not?
Acting is just so fun and it's a different task. With stand-up you're kind of writer/director/performer and acting you can be part of an ensemble, which is really fun, and you can let the situation be funny, or set someone up, which is fun. There are a lot of voices in my head so it's fun to play different characters and being a character actor you get to play some pretty ridiculous people.
You make a lot of side comments in a raspy, high-pitched voice while performing: Did this happen naturally or was it a purposeful part of your act from the beginning?
I developed this alternative character on the lower east side of Manhattan at like these alternative spaces that are now called alternative comedy rooms, but back then they were kind of performance-arts rooms. [The character] was kind of an old lady that was dissatisfied with everything. It's a great way to disarm people and to get permission to go on. If the audience knows you've done five minutes of bacon jokes, and you're aware of it, that'll allow you to do another 10 minutes. Hopefully.
The name of your current stand-up tour is "The Sexy Tour." Some people say true comedians are born with a "funny gene." What about sexiness? Does one have to be born sexy or can you learn it?
I have an advantage, you know. It's hard to stay in shape and I don't have to do that. I have a gut and that's what really attracts the ladies. And I'm bald and I'm very pale. All of these things are considered sexy by a lot of people ... that live in my head.
Some of your funniest moments come when you talk about food – junk food in particular, like the guilty pleasures of Hot Pockets and IHOP. What do you think are some of the South's most outlandish or inexcusable culinary traditions?
I have a true affection for Waffle House and I describe it to people that haven't been there as a gas-station bathroom that sells waffles. ... The healthy-eating thing is not a huge priority for me and it doesn't appear to be for some parts of that Southern diet, you know?