Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

Don't read this book. Listen to it.* As funny as Gaffigan is in print, multiply that funny by at least 10 for the audio version. Although I primarily listened to Dad Is Fat on my car's CD player while driving, there were times when I pulled into the drive-way and remained in my seat listening and laughing all by myself, no doubt puzzling (and perhaps concerning) the neighbors.

Gaffigan, as you might already know, is a tall, pale, comedian/writer/actor who has appeared in movies and on TV in addition to headlining, and who doesn't work blue ("When you are discussing mini-muffins in a stand-up act, it's not really necessary to curse or bring sex into the material," he says). As you might not know, he is also the father of five kids, ages 8 and under, who live with him and his wife in a modest, 4-story walk-up apartment in New York City. The chapter "How to Put Five Kids to Bed in a Two-Bedroom Apartment" is a special favorite.

Gaffigan has long been know for his deadpan delivery of routines involving his own laziness as well as food. His Hot Pockets bits are legendary, but riffs on bacon, cake, and manatees are equally inventive and memorable. Dad Is Fat brings parenthood to that list of things that at first blush might not seem extremely funny (wait, manatees are always funny), but turn out to be given Gaffigan's take on them. For example, when talking about parent-teacher conferences, he says: "As your children get older, the parent-teacher conference is always a strange experience. The conference is supposed to be all about the child, but somehow it ends up with you feeling like you are getting a report card on your parenting. You still want to know your child is doing well and you still want to see their work, but because I am an actor and comedian, it seems that these conferences always lead back to my occupation. ‘Well your daughter/son is very dramatic and loves to talk, which I guess is no surprise, given your occupation.’ I’m not offended, but the implication that all improper behavior is the result of what I do for a living is rather absurd. As if a chatty five-year-old with a librarian mom would be a red flag. ‘We expected your child to just sit behind her desk and shush people. Maybe she needs Ritalin.'"

Dad Is Fat is smart and funny and sweet, much like Gaffigan. Those are five lucky kids.

*Ok, read it if the CD is checked out.

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