It's family first for comedian Jim Gaffigan
It's the fact that he and his wife, Jeannie, are raising five children, all under age 9, in a two-bedroom Manhattan apartment without going insane.
Well, maybe a little insane.
"Dad Is Fat," Gaffigan's first book, is a terrifyingly funny account of fatherhood, from the absurd nature of children's literature ("Is it possible to read a Dr. Seuss book and not sound a little drunk?").
Q: You're not the first comedian to write about parenting. What made you think you had something new to add to the subject?
A: Bill Cosby really set the standard with "Fatherhood." I definitely wanted to approach it from an observational standpoint.
First and foremost, I didn't want to do a book where I hate my kids, because I don't, and I didn't want to do a book where I worship my children and Jesus.
My editor encouraged me to reveal more show-biz stuff, but I didn't want to do that. I think we know too much about people.
Q: How different was this process from writing a stand-up routine?
A: It was definitely an adjustment. Stand-up is obviously such a verbal skill. It's all about efficiently communicating ideas in a concise manner.
I was surprised how much harder that was to do in an essay. You develop a lot of habits in stand-up where you rely on vocal inflections, facial expressions and an applied point of view. I struggled to get around that.
Q: I can't quite wrap my mind around the fact that you tour across the country while still managing to raise your kids. How do you do it?
A: Here's the thing. I'm the beneficiary of where my career is. I usually am only in a city for a weekend or one night, then I go right home. If it's a longer extension of time, we take the kids with us.
I've turned down a fair amount of things. I turned down a movie shooting for eight weeks in Alaska. I mean, it was only six lines.
Q: I know you're developing a new sitcom. You've tried to launch several in the past. How important is it to you to have big-time sitcom success?
A: Not nearly as important as it would have been 15 years ago. Back then, I had a completely different set of priorities. I was probably much more consumed with being successful than being creatively fulfilled.
There's a big distinction. I'm not interested anymore in attaining fame just to have fame. In the end, I'd rather be a good dad.
I mean, it's fun to have your ego stroked, but if "Cat's in the Cradle" will be echoing in my ears when I'm in my 60s, it's not worth it.
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