Published Jul 18, 2016Jim Gaffigan is an observational comic who seems to spend most of his time observing food. As he once intimated, he's obsessed with food and dissecting the subject makes up most of the material on this, his sixth special, released in 2006. But though he's a clean comic who's deemed family-friendly, there's a certain rage within Gaffigan's pointed remarks about American culture and its lowered expectations.
For Gaffigan, his country's conscience must have a self-aware and high-pitched voice. It is an ever-questioning spectre that occasionally represents an amorphous contingent of people — not necessarily those laughing in the room, but those stumbling by, wondering what this giant pale man is going on about. He revels in his own weirdness for obsessing over grocery stores, spray cheese and of course, Hot Pockets, and he wonders why we eat the things we do. He wonders why we chop down Christmas trees and bring them inside, but then still go and decorate our yards. And generally, he wonders why we don't wonder too.
Beyond the Pale is paced at a big laugh about every seven seconds, which means we don't have a ton of time to process what's being said, only that we can't help but like it. And though he'd surely defer any serious or political intent by suggesting he's just writing amazing gags, it feels as though Gaffigan might be scrutinizing our tendency to impulse buy.
Gaffigan pretends to be a surrogate for American oddity but he's really just highlighting the fact that all of us are odd in our own way for the things we consume, but also for opening up a surreal, dark laneway that enables marketers to think, "Yes, I can sell that. Even that, yes. They'll buy anything!" In the end, he seems to say, all we can do is laugh.
Exclaim! is reviewing every standup comedy special currently available on Netflix Canada, including this one. You can find a complete list of reviews so far here.