His name is Jim Gaffigan and he just might be the funniest man alive. I never thought I would utter such a seemingly trumped-up declaration, yet here I am putting it in writing. When I got the press release a couple of months back about his appearance at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center this Friday, I had to dig through my increasingly oxidized memory bank. His name rang a bell, but I must confess, I'm not the hippest chick around. I usually nod off long before Letterman gets to No. 3 on his Top 10 List.
I had to do some research, so I started pulling up clips of Gaffigan on Jimmy Kimmel, Letterman and Conan. I watched his most recent hour-long Comedy Central special, "King Baby," and his last DVD, "Beyond the Pale," I listened as Gaffigan talked about bacon, cake, hot pockets and Easter Bunnies. I heard him talk about not camping and being pale. I'm here to tell you: I have never laughed so hard in my life. I laughed for days all alone in front of my laptop. Like a crazy person.
Once upon a time there was Lenny Bruce. Then there was George Carlin, who died in 2008. These men could glance at a fingernail clipping or an old tire and turn it into an hour's worth of hysterically funny, seemingly spontaneous material. Bruce and Carlin set the bar very high. Whenever I see a comic perform - whether live or on the screen - there's always a little voice in my head saying, "Well, he (or she) is funny, but he's no George Carlin or Lenny Bruce."
MARTIN CROOK photo
That voice finally shut up when I heard Jim Gaffigan compare bacon to fairy dust.
He called last week from Detroit where he was working on his upcoming film, "Salvation Boulevard," with Pierce Brosnan, Ed Harris, Marisa Tomei and Jennifer Connelly, to chat about Friday night's show at the Castle Theater. This is Gaffigan's second appearance on Maui. The last time he was on island, he and his family really loved it, so he's bringing the whole gang again.
"Any parent will say hanging out with kids in a water environment is always a good thing, and I eat my fair share of macadamia nuts," Gaffigan told me, in his characteristic deadpan.
Jim Gaffigan performs in the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Castle Theater at 8 p.m. Friday. Tickets run $35 and $45 plus applicable fees and are available at the MACC box office, by phone at 242-7469 or online at www.mauiarts.org
He told me he and his wife write most of his material together. They've been married for seven years and have three kids, ages 6, 4, and 1.
"She's the only woman that, when we were dating, I never really got sick of," he recalled, "and there's something about being in a certain environment (like Maui) with someone you're really kind of fond of."
If there's one potential drawback to his tropical sojourn, however, it's Jim Gaffigan's oft-discussed pallor. Gaffigan turned his melanin-deficiency into a super-human attribute when he and the nearly translucent Conan O'Brien teamed up for the animated series "Pale Force." They blinded their foes by simultaneously exposing their creamy-white torsos. The series ran for a season on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien." Gaffigan told me he'd already begun the sunscreen application process weeks before his vacation, so as to create an impenetrable force field. Let's hope it works.
Gaffigan has been approached on many occasions to host his own late-night talk show, but he's not planning to go that route any time soon.
"At first, all I ever wanted to do was be on Letterman and have a talk show," he said. "But that's a grind - every night, five nights a week the schedule, the politics. I've adjusted my goals along the way."
When Gaffigan made his first appearance on Letterman, the host was so impressed with the young comic, he asked him to develop a series called "Welcome to New York" for World Wide Pants, Letterman's own production company. Since then, Gaffigan's movies ("Super Trooper," "Three Kings," "Igby Goes Down"), television appearances ("Sex and the City," "The Ellen Show," "That '70s Show," "Ed"), CDs and DVDs have made him one of the most popular and critically acclaimed comedians in the US.
And did I mention that he might be the funniest man in the world? Catch him at the MACC tomorrow night and see if you agree.
Seabury Hall Performing Arts presents "Side Shows: A Festival of One Act Plays." These 10 10-minute plays by contemporary playwrights will be performed each night in Seabury's Performance Studio. One weekend only! 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Tickets, $8 adults, $5 for seniors and $3 for students, can be reserved by calling 573-1257.
Maui Academy of Performing Arts' "Spring Extravaganza" offers three spectacular shows of inspiring dance Saturday and Sunday at Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Castle Theater. The performances feature over 300 dancers, from the adorable 3-year-old pre-ballet students to the advanced teens and adults of the MAPA Dance Ensemble. Tickets for the 3 p.m. matinees Saturday and Sunday are $12 (plus applicable fees). Tickets for "MOVES" (Sunday, 7:30 p.m.) are $15 for adults and $12 for kids 12 and under (plus applicable fees) and are available at the MACC box office, 242-7469 or www.mauiarts.org.
The Maui Celebrity Series presents actor/comedian Tom Arnold at Lahaina's Maui Theatre. 9 p.m. Saturday, May 29. Producer/singer Brian Evans is the opening act. For tickets or more information, call 876-7979 or buy online at www.groovetickets.com.
Maui Arts & Cultural Center welcomes America's favorite Filipino comedian, Rex Navarette, in Castle Theater, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 27. Oahu's Shawn Filipe will emcee the show and there will be an additional performance by David Lee. For tickets and more information, visit the MACC box office, call 242-7469 or log on to www.mauiarts.org.