Jim Gaffigan Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto ON, September 29

Jim Gaffigan Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto ON, September 29
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"It's time!" The eight-year-old sitting beside me bounced up and down on his father's knee in anticipation of Gaffigan's arrival. In front of us, a hipster couple in their late 20s kissed, and a few businessmen in their late 40s adjusted themselves in their seats. It was delightful to see such a varied group of people come together over the same sense of humour, but unfortunately, the man who was there to unite the room in laughter wasn't up to his usual excellent standard. Some of his jokes were unfinished, and many were underwhelming, even though they were decently polished.
 
Nate Bargatze opened the show with an anecdote about how a cafe completely misunderstood his order and somehow ended up giving him the bizarre mix of a glass of milk and ice. It was a simple bit, yet it ended up being one of the best moments of the night. Additionally, the deadpan Tennessean performed some other solid material that was also in his hour-long solo show. It included his joke about moving in with his now-wife straight from his mother's house, and his narrative about how he came to think that hammock was pronounced "hammot."

The author of Dad Is Fat then walked on stage to uproarious applause. After he pretended to be overwhelmed by it and joked about how it would feel to come out to complete silence, he started out his hour with a strong bit about covering his stomach with his arm in hopes of creating the illusion of being thin. It was classic Gaffigan: a straightforward, clean, fresh look at an everyday thing. It was also trademark Gaffigan because it hit two of his go-to subjects: food and fatness. The only thing Gaffigan is as well-known for is talking about having five children.
 
Gaffigan then stayed at a steady standard as he joked about saunas. His written material on the subject was merely chuckle-worthy, but it became great thanks to a Finnish woman in the crowd correcting his pronunciation of her nation's favourite form of spa. Gaffigan coasted on that feedback and sassily pronounced sauna as "SAOO-nah" for a few minutes, but once that lost its shine, things began to dwindle.
 
His morbid view of the leaves falling in autumn was very funny, but his subsequent joke about how it's weird to dress your kids up as pirates because pirates were rapists and murderers just came across as smart rather than hilarious. Likewise, his joke where he revealed that his wife helps him write his material, then read a paragraph about how great she is, was lackluster, and his bit about being unable to understand the metric system was so plain that it bordered on lazy.
 
That said, there were a few good moments. Gaffigan's fledgling bit about how his last name means "anxious" definitely showed a lot of potential, and his story about his friend refusing to put anything in the bed of his pickup in fear of getting it dirty was entertaining, especially when Gaffigan compared driving a pickup for its looks to carrying an empty suitcase just to seem like the type of person who likes to travel.
 
To close the show, Gaffigan performed his famous "Hot Pockets" bit, but with a twist involving the vegetarian, whole wheat, and Canadian versions of the product. He looked a bit dead in the eyes as he recited the old portion of the joke for the fan who requested it, but the new tangents were amusing.