Steak, seafood and Hot Pockets: A food-centric evening with Jim Gaffigan

The fleshy comic brought his love of food and his musings on being an American dad to Goldstein Auditorium Saturday night for an hourlong set of stand-up comedy.

Mr. Universe came to Syracuse University on Oct. 25 to talk about what he loves most: food. Comedian Jim Gaffigan performed to a sold out audience in Goldstein Auditorium as part of his national Obsessed tour.

“I love Syracuse. It’s my favorite university in the whole world, and not just because you’re paying me,” Gaffigan said to a thunderous crowd.

Photo: Alec Erlebacher
“I’m just gonna stand,” Gaffigan said. “I know it’s Thanksgiving.”

Gaffigan started the show with one of the crowd favorites: his weight. “I’ll tell you something about myself: I’m fat." he said. Ironically, Gaffigan is not fat, but the average weight for an adult male. This is why Gaffigan’s stand up is so successful, for it touches the hearts, or rather the stomachs, of everyone’s inner fatty.

“I think his stand up is something we can all relate to, so he just seems like a perfect fit for the SU campus,” said Jeremy Martin, Vice President of University Union, the organization that booked Gaffigan.

Gaffigan’s funniest moments are largely when strung together to hit the audience with consecutive jokes until they can’t catch their breath. One example of this was when he spoke about his shirts no longer fitting him, and not being able to sit in them anymore. “I’m just gonna stand,” Gaffigan said. “I know it’s Thanksgiving.”

Gaffigan did explore outside the realm of food shortly in order to discuss college-related jokes such as binge-watching television shows on Netflix. Gaffigan tends to unite with the lazier population of America, which celebrates overeating and moving as little as possible. “You finished a 10K, I finished Breaking Bad. I’m a little sore, but I did it,” he said as the binge-watchers cheered.

The comedian is also well known for his religion jokes. These jokes are not meant to offend. They are directed more toward people’s attitude about religion, specifically Jesus, and not the beliefs themselves. “Nothing like the topic of Jesus to take the air out of the room,” Gaffigan said. He then launched into a series of jokes about how people view puns about Jesus as still “too soon.”

His stand up was interlaced throughout the show with commentary about his love for steak, and how this makes him “a man” and “American.” He spoke frequently about his devotion to steakhouses, and how when he dies he would like to be put on display inside of one.

Many of Gaffigan’s jokes rely on shock value, which he delivers without hesitation. He treads the thin line between shock and offense by directing most of these jokes toward himself, such as when he said, “It’s not easy looking like Hitler’s wet dream.” He also made light of how people are afraid to say the word “cancer,” as if the devil will hear and punish them with the disease. Some might say that these jokes could run the risk of offending his audience, yet Gaffigan’s clever delivery combined with his beloved food jokes earned him nominations for both Daytime Emmy and Grammy awards.

Gaffigan also discussed what college students know well: a night at the bar. The crowd responded strongly as Gaffigan compared picking someone up at the bar to visiting a preschool. He listed the similarities, such as girls publicly crying, the lack of toilet training and the demand for “more juice.” He described his typical morning after a night of drinking as a need for a “new identity,” and defined taking shots as a way to “get right to the embarrassing part of the night.”

Gaffigan finished the night strong with the all time favorite topic of Hot Pockets. He commented on the recent recall of Hot Pockets after the meat was described as “unsound.”

“What is it, a ceiling?” Gaffigan said. His jokes on Hot Pockets largely consisted of his original routine, which based on the crowd’s response, was exactly what the audience wanted. “You ever cook a Hot Pocket without that sleeve? I did, it blew up my house,” Gaffigan said to roaring applause.

Though his performance mainly consisted of his best-known skits, and though he rarely interacted with the students, the audience’s response to Gaffigan’s performance was positive.

“I’ve always been a fan, I’ve watched all of his stand up online, and the Hot Pocket skit is the funniest. I’ve watched it probably ten times,” said pre-med senior Alycia Cucka.

“It was excellent. He’s been my favorite comedian for years,” said marketing freshman Teresa Cwikowski.

Food lovers and closet fatties successfully celebrated a night of carbs and Hot Pockets with their fearless leader, Mr. Universe.

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