Jim Gaffigan is so adept at his craft, he can even predict how you're reacting to it. At least that's the premise of his recurring "Audience Voice" bit that sets the tone for the hilarious hour that follows.
He adopts the tone of an uptight, mildly horrified surrogate viewer reacting to the same jokes he just told. After humming a tune to punctuate a bit about bowling, his Audience Voice character asides, "That was the worst song ever!" Gaffigan then continues, undeterred, back to bowling. By beating hypothetical detractors to the punch (not that he has any detractors), Gaffigan shows how comfortable he is in his own material, and how in command he is of his craft.
Jim Gaffigan's humour is observational, but never in the hacky, "Did you ever notice…" style common to his contemporaries. He truly wrings humour from topics as far reaching as the guy who doesn't stand still to enjoy an escalator ("This thing is free! You don't need a ticket!") to the spelling and pronunciation disconnect inherent to the word "bologna" and the strangeness of wearing a new brand of deodorant ("Am I being followed?... By a pine tree?").
For fans of such comedy, it's worth noting that Jim Gaffigan "works clean." That is to say, there's nary a swear word, racy topic, or edgy premise explored throughout the set. But labelling someone a "clean comic" can seem like damning with faint praise because it suggests "family-friendly" which can connote "populist" which can mean "bad." But Gaffigan does not come off like a comic who has smoothed-out rough edges to attract bigger audiences, or a proselytizing motivational speaker with a few zingers about the Man Upstairs. Rather, he is an extremely facile comic relying solely on well-crafted material and no crutches to carry the day. He succeeds admirably.
Jim Gaffigan is also one of the few comics I can think of who is both funny and silly (Ellen DeGeneres and Steve Martin are perhaps others). The distinction is tricky, but it's fair to say he can elicit laughs from a great joke and giggles from a dumb voice. There are chuckles of "Oh isn't that just so true!" recognition and bursts of "man funny" guffaws throughout King Baby, and Gaffigan earns every one. Treat yourself to this fantastic special and see for yourself.
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.