Jim Gaffigan, whose jokes about food and raising five kids have made him one of today’s top comedians, is premiering a TV show next month called The Jim Gaffigan Show. The show, co-written by Jim and his wife Jeannie, is about the Gaffigan family – practicing Catholics with five kids who live in a 2-bedroom New York City apartment. In a recent interview with First Things, Jim & Jeannie opened up about their Catholic faith and the role it plays in their lives and in their show.
FT: What would you say your Catholic faith provides you in a positive way, on a day-to-day basis?
Jim: My faith is very associated with the notion of mercy. I understand that there is something greater than myself that does not judge me in a negative manner—or forgives me I should say. For me, being in touch with the idea that I’m not in control of everything is important. When I find myself frustrated, I have some distance from that idea I’m not in charge, for instance in how this conference call is setup.
Jeannie: It’s just something that we are. We live in New York City where there’s all sorts of different attitudes and lifestyles. We don’t try to hide it . . . it’s just who we are, it’s our real life. We just had a headline, “The Gaffigan Show is not about religion, it’s about their real life.” You can’t really win sometimes.
As the conference call with Jim, Jeannie, and other religious news outlets went on, what came through very strongly was the everyday importance of the Gaffigans’ faith. As an example, after working with some major networks, they grew tired of dealing with the suffocating bureaucracy. The networks asked whether they could make the priest a non-denominational minister who could date, or whether they could reduce the number of Gaffigan kids from five to two. So the Gaffigans took their show to TV Land, on cable, where they can maintain creative control and keep their experience of Catholicism in the show.