Stand-up comedy has taken Jim Gaffigan around the world, but there are some places — like Utah — he especially connects with.
“I love performing in Utah,” Gaffigan told the Provo Daily Herald in a recent phone interview. “Whenever I do a show in Salt Lake City, I always leave with a couple more minutes of material. It’s kind of like having a conversation with a good friend.”
In fact, a second show was added, by popular demand, to Gaffigan’s “The Fixer Upper Tour” this year at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City.
“It is just one of those things, I always have a good time in Utah,” Gaffigan said.
Gaffigan talked about the tour, his career and his affinity for fry sauce. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
SARAH HARRIS: Could you tell me about the idea behind “The Fixer Upper Tour” and what makes this show unique?
JIM GAFFIGAN: There’s an unspoken rule that when you do a live show, it’s all new material and it’s going to be your strongest new material, and so “Fixer Upper,” and also it’s called “Quality Time,” it’s different. … This tour’s completely new, but I kind of hit a stride being more autobiographical in this new hour of material.
SH: Many Utahns probably especially relate to your material on parenting, since the culture here is very family-centered. All joking aside, what do you really want people to know about parenting?
JG: I just think that my attitude on parenting is you have to laugh about the absurdity of the never-ending task of parenting, and if you’re exhausted and making mistakes, it means you’re trying, which is what I think the whole goal of parenting (is). It’s like people that don’t complain about their kids are not involved in their kids’ lives, you know what I mean? So that’s some of my takeaway on this family material kind of thing, is that it’s done in jest, but that jest is earned by how much I care and the level of participation.
SH: In addition to being a stand-up comedian, you’ve done some writing and acting and producing, so I’d be curious to know what that’s been like for you exploring some other avenues and what you’ve learned and if there’s one that you enjoy most?
JG: I am a comedian, and as a creative person, there’s nothing as immediate as stand-up. You can come up with an idea and try it that night. You can get feedback from the audience immediately. I love writing, I love acting. It’s just with writing, you have to wait for feedback. For acting, you can shoot a movie and then it can come out 10 months later. Maybe it will end up at Sundance, but you don’t have control over it. But I would say that, I mean, I really love acting, but I love the fact that I can do them all because I think they also kind of enhance my skills in all of them. It’s like writing helps stand-up, stand-up helps acting, acting helps obviously stand-up and writing, so I wouldn’t want to remove any of them. I would love to remove auditioning for acting roles, but that’s a little out of my hands.
SH: You’ve also done some projects outside of comedy in your film work, especially, there’s a thriller coming out soon, “American Dreamer,” that you played the lead in. So what has that been like for you just exploring outside of comedy, and how does it compare to doing comedy?
JG: I love acting in dramatic roles. It’s obviously very different from comedies, but I think comedians are rather serious people. That’s not to say that we don’t joke around and stuff like that. And it’s a different task as opposed to comedy kind of relieving the tension. Dramatic acting is kind of living in that moment of drama, so I don’t know, I love it. But I make my living as a stand-up. I love acting. I love the fact that I’m getting more and more opportunities to have because I think dramatic acting roles are far more fulfilling than comedic acting roles. I mean, comedic acting roles are fun, but playing and encompassing a character’s life and their ups and downs is strangely rewarding. It’s really fun.
SH: In your opinion, what do you think is the state of stand-up comedy in general in the United States right now?
JG: We’ll probably know more when we get some perspective in a couple years, but just over the span of my career, we’ve witnessed this explosion, really. We are definitely in a golden age of stand-up, and I don’t know if it can get any bigger, but I do think that particularly seeing stand-up live is something that’s very special. It’s different from consuming it on, say, in an album or even watching a special because stand-up is very much a conversation, and unlike a play, there is no fourth wall. So like when I’m doing a show at the Vivint, I’m having a conversation with everyone in the room, and that’s kind of special and it’s unique not only to the city but to that night, and the show has a life of its own. It kind of moves within the inhabitance of that room and form. It’s really kind of a strange collaboration that occurs with a live stand-up show. I never thought that I would be performing in the venues that I’m performing in. I never thought that I’d be on my seventh hour of stand-up material. But I never thought I’d be the father of five, either.
SH: Moving forward, what are some of your plans and goals for the future?
JG: My goal is to seek creative fulfillment, but also to not get so caught up in my career where I lose sight of the important stuff — which is, in the end, just going to be evaluated on what kind of husband or father or citizen I am. So I think there’s a conscious effort of not getting caught up in the superficial silliness.
SH: Are there other comments you’d like to add?
JG: I can’t go to Utah and not have some fry sauce, so I’m eagerly awaiting some fry sauce.
SH: Yeah, definitely, and there’s the addition of Mayochup now. Have you tried that yet?
JG: No, what is this?
SH: It’s a new product from Heinz that they came out with. It’s like a mixture of ketchup and mayonnaise, and they call it Mayochup.
JG: Oh, yes. I was talking to somebody earlier from Utah, and they were saying the fact that it isn’t called fry sauce, it would be like taking the burrito from Mexico and calling it a wrap. It’s a little bit like, “It’s a burrito.”