Jim Gaffigan is a rarity in contemporary standup comedy: a clean, family-friendly comic who's able to sell out venues both stateside and internationally without working blue. He’s also one of the only comedians who won’t take Florida to task for being a godless, politically mismanaged state.
“Florida is so special during December,” Gaffigan tells New Times. “People badmouth Florida during the entire year; then December people are like, ‘We always liked you, Florida.’”
Gaffigan will visit the Sunshine State on his latest tour, the Pale Tourist, which will take him to the Kravis Center for shows Saturday, December 21, and Sunday, December 22. The following week, he'll swing by the Adrienne Arsht Center to share his new material Saturday, December 28. The Pale Tourist touches partly on Gaffigan’s travels as a working comedian and his experiences in venues and cities as far-flung as Barcelona and Moscow. He's certain the subject of tourism will resonate with Florida audiences.
“There’s a negativity associated with it,” Gaffigan says. “I live in New York City, and there’s a certain kind of Ugh, tourist! [attitude] that is socially accepted, which is rather absurd really.”
Speaking with Gaffigan, it’s apparent he's a diehard comedy nerd who wracks his brain over the theoretics of a perfect joke. He will construct, analyze, and toy with a subject until the idealized punch line is finally realized.
“We secretly never want to look like tourists. I understand the practical reasons, but it’s not the end of the world to look like someone on vacation,” Gaffigan says, outlining his thought process behind his standup set. “It’s just turning the Rubik’s Cube of different angles and seeing the different colors.”
However, the Pale Tourist isn't solely dedicated to exploring the theme of tourism. Gaffigan is still Gaffigan, and fans should expect material that fits well within the ornery father of five's wheelhouse.
“I talk about tourism a little bit, and I talk a little bit about traveling with my family, but I’ve always kind of talked about my family,” he says. “Standup is very much self-assignment, thinking of new ideas as opposed to a larger, overarching theme, which I think is much more of a British approach to standup.”
Anyone familiar with Gaffigan’s standup or his 2014 memoir, Food: A Love Story, knows about the comic’s fondness for food. So what is life on the road like for a comic who is known for his all-American appetite?
“I’m very much 'Get to a city, do the show, and then get a meal that is hopefully something unique to that city,'” he says. “So in Houston, I might go a Tex-Mex place afterwards, whereas in Omaha, I would definitely be at a steakhouse.”
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He shares that his tour manager will look at ideas for local places to eat while keeping a watchful eye on the comedian's hectic schedule, especially if he has to fly out that night or wake up early the next day.
“These are great problems to have,” Gaffigan admits.
Jim Gaffigan. 8 p.m. Saturday, December 21, and Sunday, December 22, at Kravis Center, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach; 561-832-7469; kravis.org. Tickets are sold out.