In the spirit of good-natured retaliation, stand-up comedian (and number 61 on our 2006 list of the "Unsexiest Men in the World") Jim Gaffigan dubbed his latest traveling venture "The Sexy Tour," and he's bringing it to Boston this weekend.
The My Boys star and Sex and the City veteran (he played Miranda's exhibitionist-pooper paramour) has garnered a fervid following, thanks to his clean, clever comedy about seemingly banal topics such as Hot Pockets. Although he juggles his stand-up career with acting and writing ventures, he says there's no comparison with being onstage in front of a live audience.
"The heroin of coming up with a new joke and doing it on stage for the first time is something unique to stand up," says Gaffigan. "There is almost some meritocracy in [stand-up comedy], which is also unique in the entertainment industry. You make people laugh, you sell tickets, you move up the food chain. But in acting, there are very talented people who just can't get a break."
Gaffigan has had several "breaks," the most notorious of which was being handpicked by David Letterman to develop a sitcom, in 2000. The show, Welcome to New York, didn't last, but Gaffigan's appeal did. Since then, he's appeared in countless films and TV shows, including Igby Goes Down, That '70s Show, and the Law and Order trifecta, sometimes playing roles that seem pretty macabre for a man who's supposed to be yukking it up. But versatility is key.
One thing that helps Gaffigan stand out in a sea of "blue" comedians who have made a mainstream, monotonous practice out of pushing the envelope is that he keeps it tame.
"I'd rather be more nuanced with my jokes and my language," he says. "Sometimes, I'll think of a dirty line, but it would destroy the flow of my act, or make a joke impossible to follow. If I have a really dirty joke, how can I follow that by just talking about Dunkin' Donuts for 20 minutes?"
Jim Gaffigan will appear at the Wilbur Theatre, 246 Tremont Street, Boston, on November 20. Call 617.248.9700. From November 21–23, he'll appear at the Berklee Performance Center, 136 Mass Ave, Boston. Call 617.747.2261.