Day 13: Jim Gaffigan

I’ve been sharing some stand up comedy I really like every day this month. Today’s set contains some of the earliest stand up bits I remember laughing out loud to. Here’s Jim Gaffigan in 2000 and some reasons I think it’s a great set:

• THE WORD ECONOMY. If you look at Jim’s punchlines, the sentences are all short. For example, after he says, “I gotta go to the post office,” he serves up four separate punchlines, and none of those sentences are more than 8 words. By taking the shortest route to the laugh, he can keep me laughing and give me more opportunities to do so.

• THE TAGS. Any time spent establishing a new premise is time I’m spent not laughing. So why I laugh so much in this short set is that, once Jim gives us a premise, he mines so many jokes out of it. He gets me to crack up when he delivers the line about never giving the neighbor the letter, but then adds three more lines (“tags”) to the joke that all get laughs. Coupled with his Word Economy, these tags create a blisteringly tight set.

• THE OBSERVATIONS. So many of Jim’s bits in this set (e.g., sleep, mail, one thing to do) start off with “You ever...” followed by some observation. He’ll notice a general trait (laziness), but give me a specific, self-deprecating, example (not finishing a newspaper article) that I can relate to. I end up laughing at him and myself. And the observations are so on point that, even almost two decades later, this set still feels fresh.

Hope you liked it. His 2000 Comedy Central half hour special contains these and other great jokes. For more Jim Gaffigan, check out his numerous other specials and follow @jimgaffigan.