2013 flashback: Jim Gaffigan the comic with five kids in Manhattan signs books at Manuel’s Tavern June 11

Originally posted June 11, 2013 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Stand-up comic Jim Gaffigan used to obsess about Hot Pockets.

Okay. He still does. But now he also obsesses about the logic of children’s books, diaper changing in the middle of the night in complete darkness and the perpetual hunt for babysitters.

Yes, he’s a dad. But not just any dad but a dad with five young kids in a two bedroom, 1,100 square foot apartment in Manhattan.

Oh yes. That’s comic fodder!

He has just written about a book about fatherhood called “Dad is Fat” that is not quite Bill Cosby but observational in his own self-deprecating way. He will be signing copies of the book at Manuels Tavern Tuesday night, June 11, at 7 p.m.

A tavern for a book signing? It’s creative, to say the least. And A Capella Books, which is sponsoring the signing, doesn’t have the space in its own bookstore to do Gaffigan justice.

So drink up and read!

Gaffigan, who was very funny on TBS’s “My Boys” a few years back, needs a bigger pad to fit his ever growing family. Plus, he wants to stay in Manhattan, which is insanely expensive. This means he needs to sell a LOT of books.

In an interview last month from said cramped abode, he said he stays in Manhattan because that’s where he works and he hates the idea of commuting from the ‘burbs  – or even Brooklyn. “I want to see my kids,” he said. “My theory is if I can eat dinner with them or pick them up at school, they’re less likely to become meth heads.”

But it’s hard to look for a place, he said, when his wife Jeannie is pregnant all the time.

The idea for the book stemmed from intentionally avoiding flooding his stand-up act with daddy jokes. “I want to talk more about more universal topics that don’t turn off a broad audience,” he said.

For instance, in the book, he writes about candy and children, a perfect topic for the book. “It’s not something a college student could necessarily relate to,” he said.

At first, he began throwing out observations on Twitter, where he has built up an impressive 1.7 million followers (@JimGaffigan).  “When a parenting observation would hit me,” he said, “I would write it down.”

Those subjects became fodder for the book, which features several dozen relatively brief essays. “It’s more or less observations from a lazy man,” he said. “I am a comedian. I’m not David Sedaris or Malcolm Gladwell. I wanted a book to be something simple and light and funny.”

He hopes even non-parents will find the book bemusing: “I spend most of my adult life not being a parent. I understand that. Most of my comic friends don’t have kids, much less stable relationships. To them, this is a pretty foreign topic. I wanted it to be accessible. Still, I don’t think some of the stuff would work in standup.”

While his book jokes about his kids in a myriad number of ways, he does not want to give the impression he doesn’t like them. “It is amazing how much I enjoy parenting given I am this lazy guy who wants to nap all day,” he said. “I worship my kids. I wanted to find a middle ground which was hopefully authentic to my point of view. I love being a dad. I just don’t know what I’m doing.”

Gaffigan said even if nobody buys the book, his kids will hopefully find it amusing many years from now. “It would be a funny encapsulation of their childhood from my point of view,” he said.

In the book, he makes interesting observations about how intrusive strangers can be about his kids. “It’s baffling,” he said. “Why is it anybody’s business whether I have no kids or one kid or 100 kids? You never ask someone if they’re going to get a haircut. Yet people feel it’s their business how many kids you should have.”

Five kids, he concedes, is unusual nowadays.

Almost every day, he gets variations of the question: “Are you going to stop?”

“It’s as if the person is going to pay for the kids’ college. People act like me having five kids is selfish. It’s the oppositie. It’s incredibly unselfish!” he said.

“Each of my children has made me a better man,” he added. “I need another 34 to be a decent guy. The equation of parenting is not a logical one. The hours are horrible and the pay is worse. It’s a strange kind of intangible adventure yet somehow it makes sense.”

He finds the city vs. suburbia debate more interesting and less insulting. Some folks wonder if living in the city endangers his kids. “I grew up in a small town,” he said. “I like the fact my children are exposed to a diversity I didn’t have. I like that my kids will ask a woman in a burka is a ninja. They’re not thrown by two men holding hands. I like that. Most people I know growing up in big cities are pleasant to be around.”

Book signing

Jim Gaffigan

“Dad is Fat”

7 p.m. Tuesday, June 11, 2013. Free.

Manuel’s Tavern, 602 N. Highland, Ave., Atlanta. 404-525-3447


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