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Jim Gaffigan
Jim Gaffigan making a goofy excited face, Jan 2014, NYC (cropped).jpg
Gaffigan in January 2014
Birth name James Christopher Gaffigan
Born (1966-07-07) July 7, 1966 (age 58)
Elgin, Illinois, U.S.
  • Stand-up
  • film
  • television
  • books
Alma mater Georgetown University (BS)
Years active 1991–present
Jeannie Gaffigan
(m. 2003)
Children 5
Relative(s) Richard F. Mitchell

James Christopher Gaffigan (born July 7, 1966) is an American stand-up comedian, actor, writer, and producer. His material often addresses fatherhood, laziness, food, religion, and general observations. He has released several successful comedy specials, including Mr. Universe, Obsessed, Cinco, and Quality Time, all of which have received Grammy nominations.

Gaffigan's memoir Dad Is Fat (2013) and his most recent book Food: A Love Story (2014) were both published by Crown Publishers. He co-created and starred in the TV Land series The Jim Gaffigan Show, based on his life. He collaborates extensively with his wife, actress Jeannie Gaffigan, with whom he has five children. They are Catholic, a topic that frequently comes up in his comedy shows.

Early life

James Christopher Gaffigan was born in Elgin, Illinois, on July 7, 1966, the youngest of six children born to charity worker and fundraiser Marcia Miriam (née Mitchell) and banker Michael Ambrose Gaffigan. He is of Irish descent, with his family's surname originally being Gavahan. His maternal grandfather was Iowa Supreme Court Justice Richard F. Mitchell. Gaffigan was raised in Chesterton, Indiana, and often jokes about growing up in a large family. His mother was accomplished at needlework and received a national award for original design and craftsmanship from the American Needlepoint Guild in 1985. She died of cancer in 1990, aged 53.

Gaffigan's father was the president and CEO of the Mercantile National Bank of Indiana for 15 years until his retirement in 1991. A former seminarian, he was also actively involved in local charity work. He died of lung cancer in 1999. Gaffigan's father was the first in his family to attend college, and encouraged his children to seek careers that promised job security. However, at about the age of five, Gaffigan announced that he wanted to be an actor when he grew up.

As a teenager, Gaffigan watched Saturday Night Live. He attended La Lumiere School in La Porte, Indiana, where he played on the school's football team. He attended Purdue University for one year, where he was a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, before transferring to Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business, where he graduated in 1988 with a degree in finance. He played football at Georgetown and Purdue. Although he hated studying finance, he worked as a litigation consultant for a short time after graduating and "was horrible at it".



Gaffigan performing in May 2008

Gaffigan moved to New York in 1990 to pursue comedy, a move that was inspired by his admiration for fellow Hoosier David Letterman. He worked in advertising during the day and took acting classes at night. During this time, he was cast in Blockbuster Video's "Entertainment Squad" series of commercials. His career began in earnest when a friend from his acting class dared him to take a stand-up seminar that required a live set at the end. He fell in love with stand-up, and began playing comedy clubs nightly—after his evening acting classes—until the early hours of the morning. He was often found sleeping at his day job; his boss had to wake him up to fire him.

For the first seven years of Gaffigan's stand-up career, he tried various styles, ranging from angry comedy to impressions and voices. Live comedy was in decline following its peak in the 1980s, and was further affected by the increased popularity of cable television. After periodically auditioning for The Late Show with David Letterman for six years, Gaffigan did a successful stand-up routine on the show in 1999, and his career took off.

Gaffigan's style is largely observational. Some of his main topics are laziness, eating and parenthood. His famous Hot Pocket routine was inspired by a commercial he saw that he mistook for a Saturday Night Live sketch. He often performs soliloquies. For example, in high-pitched voice, he may portray someone giving negative feedback on his own performance. (After he made a diarrhea joke in his 2012 special "Mr. Universe", he used the voice to say, "Really, he's using diarrhea jokes?") He has said, "That inside voice is my connection with the audience".

In an interview with the Duluth News-Tribune, he explained that he began developing the voice as a teenager, when he disarmed people by talking for them in their presence. He said he also used it to fend off hecklers earlier in his career, when comedy clubs were more "combative". He cursed early in his career, and added cursing to his comedy album Doing My Time at the request of his label, in the hopes of drawing more teens. He has now largely removed cursing from his routine, as he feels his subject matter doesn't lend itself to cursing and that it reduced the effort he put into crafting his jokes.

In 2004, Gaffigan's stand-up material was featured in Comedy Central's animated series Shorties Watchin' Shorties. In October 2005, he filmed a live Comedy Central special that aired the following January, and became the comedy album/DVD Beyond the Pale. The routine consisted primarily of material regarding food and American eating habits, and the comedian unknowingly predicted a future menu item at Dunkin Donuts—the 'glazed donut breakfast sandwich'—while commenting on the future of America's eating habits. His 2009 album King Baby was also a television special filmed in Austin, Texas, at the end of his "The ... Tour". Comedy Central released King Baby on DVD. In a March 2009 interview on Anytime with Bob Kushell, Gaffigan defended his naming of the tour, stating that he thought it would be funny that parents would be unsure about whether to bring their teenage children to the show. Four years later, on March 14, 2013, Gaffigan was named the "King of Clean" by the Wall Street Journal.

On February 25, 2012, Gaffigan taped a one-hour stand-up special—Mr. Universe—at the Warner Theater in Washington, D.C.; it was nominated for a Grammy. He announced that, based on the business model used by Louis C.K.'s Live at the Beacon Theater, the stand-up would be available online through his website for $5, with 20% of the total proceeds going to the Bob Woodruff Foundation, an organization that provides support to military veterans. In 2012, he was among the top-ten grossing comics in the US, according to Pollstar.

Gaffigan filmed his 2014 comedy special titled Jim Gaffigan: Obsessed at Boston's Wilbur Theater on January 18, 2014. Obsessed premiered on Comedy Central on April 27 becoming the most watched stand-up comedy special of the year for the network. The accompanying album, also titled Obsessed, debuted at number 11 on the Billboard 200 and number 1 on the Billboard Comedy Album charts. 2015 saw him embark on a headlining tour, culminating in a winter show at Madison Square Garden.

Gaffigan has performed stand-up to support charitable causes as well. In 2002, he was part of a United Service Organization event at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. Gaffigan performed at the 2013 Stand Up for Heroes charity event benefitting the Bob Woodruff Foundation alongside fellow stand-up comedians Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Cosby and Jon Stewart. Gaffigan also performed at the 2013 CNN Heroes event, which celebrates everyday heroes doing extraordinary work around the world. In May 2014, Gaffigan performed at the Make It Right Gala, an organization founded by Brad Pitt, which builds sustainable homes and buildings for communities in need. On September 26, 2015, he performed at the Festival of Families, a Catholic event held in Philadelphia. Gaffigan was the only comedian on the bill at the festival, and the event was visited by Pope Francis. The event had more than one million attendees.

As of June 2016, Gaffigan was the most popular comic on all of with over 647 million spins.

In 2016, Gaffigan embarked on his Fully Dressed Tour, performing in the United States, Canada, and the UK.

Gaffigan has appeared at the "Just for Laughs" comedy festival in Montreal, Quebec, numerous times.


Gaffigan credits David Letterman and Bill Murray as influences, and asserted that Richard Pryor was the greatest stand-up comedian ever. His comedy mentor was Dave Attell, who Gaffigan said was the only person who thought he was funny in his early stand-up years.

On the episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee featuring Gaffigan, he admitted that the show's host Jerry Seinfeld was a big influence for him.


I did my set, I walked off stage and they said the executive producer wants to meet you up in his office. I thought maybe it was going to be something good. I thought maybe Dave wants me to be a writer. But they wanted me to develop my own show.

Jim Gaffigan, Laugh Spin interview, 2005

As Gaffigan's comedy career stalled in the 1990s, a friend suggested he audition for commercials, a move that turned out to be profitable. He has appeared in over 200 TV commercials, ranging from Rolling Rock to Saturn to Chrysler and ESPN. His ubiquity earned him the title of 'Salesman of the Year' by BusinessWeek in 1999. He also performed in a trio of Sierra Mist commercials for the 2007 Super Bowl as part of the comedy ensemble "The Mis-Takes". He appeared in an ad series for Sierra Mist alongside fellow comedian Michael Ian Black.

After his first appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman in 1999, Gaffigan was tapped by the host to develop a sitcom called Welcome to New York in which he also co-starred alongside Christine Baranski. The show was cancelled after its first season, despite positive reviews. During the 2000/2001 TV season, he was a cast member of The Ellen Show on CBS, Ellen DeGeneres's second sitcom. He appeared in two movies chosen for the 2001 Sundance Film Festival: Super Troopers and 30 Years to Life. He appeared on That '70s Show, and was a regular cast member of the TBS original sitcom My Boys, which he left at the end of its third season.

In 2008, he appeared in the movie The Love Guru starring Mike Myers.

In 2009, Gaffigan guest-starred as the best friend of Murray Hewitt in an episode of the HBO comedy series Flight of the Conchords. Later that year, he appeared in the Sam Mendes-directed dramedy Away We Go and the teen comedy 17 Again. On June 11, 2009, Gaffigan appeared on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien. He appeared on Law & Order episodes "Flight" and "Reality Bites", and in the "Smile" episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent.

He was in an episode of The Daily Show as a man posing as a Daily Show correspondent who knows nothing about the show (he refers to it as "The John Daily Show") and just wants to be seen with Jon Stewart. It was meant as a parody of the 2009 White House gatecrash incident.

Gaffigan appeared on Broadway in That Championship Season, which opened in March 2011, opposite Brian Cox, Chris Noth, Kiefer Sutherland, and Jason Patric. ABC News correspondent Sandy Kenyon praised his performance as "the most moving" and said that he "may steal the show". Gaffigan called being on Broadway "an amazing experience, really hard but really fun".

Gaffigan starred in Shia LaBeouf's 2013 short film Howard, the content of which was later revealed to be mostly plagiarized from Daniel Clowes's 2007 graphic novella Justin M. Damiano. Reflecting on the incident in an interview for The Daily Beast, Gaffigan said, "There's no greater sin in the stand-up world than thievery...So you do not want to be associated with thievery," but added, "I don't have any hard feelings about it because I don't think people think I had anything to do with it."

In the 2010s, Gaffigan, his wife, and Peter Tolan began to develop material for a show based loosely on their own life. CBS agreed to shoot a pilot of their show in March 2013, with casting by Marc Hirschfeld, and Mira Sorvino playing his wife; but ultimately passed on the project. When the cable network TV Land began efforts to broadcast original material and attract younger audiences, it offered the Gaffigans complete creative control. The result was The Jim Gaffigan Show, a sitcom about a couple raising their five kids in a two-bedroom New York City apartment. After the release of two online-only episodes in June 2015, the pilot episode aired on July 15, 2015. The show stars Gaffigan as a fictionalized version of himself, with his wife Jeannie played by Ashley Williams. Other characters include their real-estate agent (and Jeannie's best friend) Daniel (played by Michael Ian Black), Jim's fellow comic and best friend Dave (Adam Goldberg), and their priest, Father Nicholas (Tongayi Chirisa). After 2 seasons of the show, in 2016 Jim and his wife Jeannie decided not to continue with a third season so they could spend more time with their kids.

Gaffigan co-starred in the film Experimenter, a fictionalized account of the experiments of the Yale professor Stanley Milgram. Gaffigan plays an actor hired to collaborate in the experiments.

In February 2016, Gaffigan began appearing in KFC commercials as Colonel Sanders, replacing Norm Macdonald.

Since April 8, 2016, Gaffigan has appeared with his family in a marketing campaign for the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica.

In October 2016, it was announced Gaffigan would be joining the cast of the third season of the anthology drama series, Fargo. However, he was ultimately forced to drop out due to scheduling difficulties; he was replaced by Mark Forward. In 2018, he portrayed Paul Markham in the biographical drama Chappaquiddick, starring Jason Clarke and Kate Mara, to positive reviews. Gaffigan next took on the lead role in the 2018 neo-noir film American Dreamer, which was released on September 20, 2019. Gaffigan's dark portrayal of a broken man driven to desperate actions was very well received by critics, with the Chicago Sun-Times review calling it "a career-best dramatic performance" by Gaffigan.

Gaffigan portrayed George Westinghouse in Michael Almereyda's 2020 film Tesla.

In 2020, Gaffigan was announced to provide the voice of Thunderbolt in season two of Stargirl. By season three, the role recast to Seth Green.

In January 2021, he joined the cast of Disney's Peter Pan & Wendy as Mr. Smee. In 2021, Gaffigan voiced Lorenzo Paguro in the Pixar film Luca.


Gaffigan is also noted for his voice-over work. He voiced an animated version of himself on Pale Force with Conan O'Brien from 2005 to 2008. He has also voiced characters on the animated shows Bob's Burgers, Shorty McShorts' Shorts, WordGirl, Star vs. the Forces of Evil, and the animated feature Duck Duck Goose.


Jim Gaffigan 2008
Gaffigan in 2008

Gaffigan produced a series of animated shorts for Late Night with Conan O'Brien, titled Pale Force (2005–2008). The animated sketches featured Gaffigan and O'Brien as superheroes who fight crime with their extremely pale skin. The series was nominated for a Daytime Emmy in 2007 in the category of "Outstanding Broadband Program – Comedy".

Gaffigan's humorous quips have earned him over two and a half million followers on Twitter. He was listed by Rolling Stone as one of the "25 funniest people on Twitter" in 2012.

In 2013, Gaffigan released Dad Is Fat, a title derived from the first complete sentence his eldest son wrote on a dry-erase board at the age of four or five. "He showed it to me," Gaffigan recalled in an interview, "and I laughed, and then I put him up for adoption." The book is a collection of essays dealing with the raising of his children, as well as reminiscences from his own childhood. In support of the volume, he appeared on NPR's Weekend Edition, ABC's The View, and MSNBC's Morning Joe, spoke at BEA in New York, embarked on a nine-stop bus tour that ended on Father's Day.

It debuted at number five on The New York Times Best Seller's list, remaining on the list for three months. The book received tepid reviews from critics. Kirkus Reviews said of the book that it's "hardly groundbreaking comedy material, but the book will appeal to Gaffigan's fans". Lou Harry of the Indianapolis Business Journal said that while "no new ground is broken in Jim Gaffigan's book...'Dad is Fat' should be a fun intermezzo in your summer reading pile." Regarding the audiobook, which Gaffigan read, Audiofile said his "performance strikes the right balance between his near-deadpan comedy delivery and the energy needed to keep a beleaguered parent engaged".

Gaffigan signed with Crown Publishing in June 2013 to write a second book of comic essays. The book, Food: A Love Story, which was released in Fall 2014. Publishers Weekly said the book "packs plenty of laughs". Kirkus Reviews remarked that "Gaffigan somehow manages to work 'clean' without ever becoming sickeningly saccharine," and that "laughs [are] served up just right on every page". Of the accompanying audiobook, the Library Journal said, "The witty commentary is peppered with jokes and funny stories that will have listeners smiling throughout and occasionally laughing out loud."

Prior to meeting his wife, actress Jeannie Noth, Gaffigan largely wrote alone. However, while working on his first show, Welcome to New York, he was overwhelmed and asked for input from her (then his friend). Although initially hesitant to have a collaborator, as their relationship grew, so did Noth's ability to write material for him. Once they married, she left behind her work with her youth theater project (Shakespeare on the Playground) to devote herself to raising their expanding brood, and after a joke she wrote drew big laughs at a show, she and Jim began to collaborate more. She gradually transferred into the position of Jim's chief co-writer, and they are now full writing partners. She has been a credited writer and/or executive producer on all his comedy endeavors since Beyond the Pale, including his two books and television show. He also credits her with "coaching" him through his performance in That Championship Season.

Media appearances

Gaffigan participated on the NPR radio quiz program Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! in 2013. He is also a regular commentator on CBS Sunday Morning, for which he won a Daytime Emmy in 2016.

Personal life

Gaffigan married actress Jeannie Gaffigan (née Noth) in 2003. They have two daughters and three sons. The family of seven lived in a two-bedroom apartment in the Manhattan borough of New York City before moving to a larger Manhattan home in 2015. To stay connected to his family, Gaffigan tries to "maintain bedtime rituals while working in the city". When on tour, he reportedly takes his family with him.

Gaffigan is a practicing Catholic who avoids working on Sundays, though he has joked that his wife is so much more devout than him that she seems like a "Shiite Catholic" in comparison. He and his family attend Mass at St. Patrick's Old Cathedral in Manhattan, which is also where he and his wife were married and where their children were baptized. In May 2016, he and his wife delivered the commencement address at the Catholic University of America. They also delivered the commencement address at his wife's alma mater, Marquette University, in May 2018. They both received honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees as part of the graduation ceremony.

In 2019, Gaffigan apologised on social media after endorsing the "Moriori First" myth in one of his stand-up shows. The myth falsely claims that Māori displaced the Moriori as the first people of New Zealand, and has been used to justify white settler colonialism. Gaffigan also made disparaging remarks about Māori people, which were described as "offensive" and "ignorant" on New Zealand social media.


  • 2001: Luigi's Doghouse
  • 2001: Economics II
  • 2003: More Moo Moos
  • 2004: The Last Supper
  • 2004: Doing My Time
  • 2006: Beyond the Pale
  • 2009: King Baby
  • 2012: Mr. Universe
  • 2014: Obsessed
  • 2017: Cinco
  • 2018: Noble Ape
  • 2019: Quality Time
  • 2020: The Pale Tourist
  • 2021: Comedy Monster
  • 2023: Dark Pale



Year Title Role Notes
1998 The Real Howard Spitz Storekeeper
1999 Personals Waiter
Entropy Bucky
Three Kings Cuts Troy's Cuff Soldier
Puppet Mr. Kamen
2001 Super Troopers Larry Johnson
30 Years to Life Russell
Final Dayton
2002 Hacks Arty Hittle
No Sleep 'til Madison Owen
Igby Goes Down Hilton Manager
2003 Season of Youth Dr. Gelding
2004 13 Going on 30 Chris Grandy
Duane Incarnate Bob
2005 The Great New Wonderful Sandie
Trust the Man Gordon
2006 Stephanie Daley Joe Daley
2007 The Living Wake Lampert Binew
2008 The Love Guru Trent Lueders
Shoot First and Pray You Live (Because Luck Has Nothing to Do with It) Mart Ryder
2009 The Slammin' Salmon Stanley Bellin
17 Again Coach Murphy
Away We Go Lowell
2010 Ten Stories Tall Simon
Going the Distance Phil
It's Kind of a Funny Story George
2011 Salvation Boulevard Jerry Hobson
2012 Howard Howard Cantour Short film
2013 Kilimanjaro Bill
2015 Walter Corey
Experimenter James McDonough
Hot Pursuit Red
Staten Island Summer Danny's Father
2016 Chuck John Stoehr
2017 Chappaquiddick Paul F. Markham
2018 Duck Duck Goose Peng Voice role
Being Frank Frank Hansen
Super Troopers 2 Larry Johnson
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation Abraham Van Helsing Voice role
American Dreamer Cam
2019 Them That Follow Zeke Slaughter
Light from Light Richard
Troop Zero Ramsey
The Day Shall Come Lemmy
... Parents Carl Mancini
Above the Shadows Paul Jederman
Playmobil: The Movie Del Voice role
2020 Tesla George Westinghouse
Most Wanted Picker
2021 Luca Lorenzo Paguro Voice role
2022 Hotel Transylvania: Transformania Abraham Van Helsing
Collide Peter
Linoleum Cameron Edwin/Kent Armstrong
2023 Peter Pan & Wendy Mr. Smee
Unfrosted: The Pop-Tart Story TBA
Providence TBA


Year Title Role Notes
1998 Soul Man Keats Episode: "Raising Heck"
Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist Jim Episode: "Old Man"
1998, 2009 Law & Order Larry Johnson / George Rozakis 2 episodes
1998 Conrad Bloom Oliver Episode: "How Florrie Got Her Groove Back"
1999 LateLine The Del-Ex Kid Episode: "Pearce on Conan"
2000 Third Watch Portis Episode: "Journey to the Himalayas"
Comedy Central Presents Jim Gaffigan 1 episode
Cry Baby Lane Dan Television film
2000–01 Welcome to New York Jim Gaffigan 13 episodes
2001 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Oliver Tunney Episode: "Countdown"
Sex and the City Doug Episode: "Defining Moments"
2001–02 The Ellen Show Rusty Carnouk 18 episodes
2002 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Marty Palin / Russell Matthews 2 episodes
2003 Hope & Faith Brad Episode: "Anger Management"
2003–04 Ed Toby Gibbons 4 episodes
That '70s Show Roy Keene 7 episodes
2004 Bad Apple Butters Television film
Strip Search Reverend Craig Peterson
The Jury Mr. Nifco Episode: "Mail Order Mystery"
2005 Cheap Seats Jerome Block Episode: "Gimmick Sports"
2006 Love, Inc. Jamie Episode: "Anything But Love"
Shorty McShorts' Shorts Og, Henrichven Episode: "My Mom Married A Yeti"
2006–09 My Boys Andy Franklin 40 episodes
2009 Flight of the Conchords Jim Episode: "Murray Takes It to the Next Level"
WordGirl Mr. Dudley (voice) 3 episodes
2010 Bored to Death Episode: "Super Ray Is Mortal!"
2011 Royal Pains Pete Stanbleck Episode: "Astraphobia"
2012–13 Portlandia Donald 2 episodes
2013–20 Bob's Burgers Henry Haber (voice) 5 episodes
2014 Us & Them Theo 2 episodes
2015 Wallykazam! Mr. Trollman Episode: "Rock and Troll"
2015–19 Star vs. the Forces of Evil Father Time / additional voices 3 episodes
2015–16 The Jim Gaffigan Show Himself 23 episodes; co-creator
2017 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Officer Krupke Episode: "Kimmy Bites an Onion!"
Gilbert Himself Documentary
2019 Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? Himself (voice) Episode: "The Fastest Fast Food Fiend!"
2021 Stargirl Thunderbolt (voice) 2 episodes
2021 Rick and Morty Hoovy (voice) Episode: "Mort Dinner Rick Andre"
2022 Reindeer in Here Santa Claus (voice) Television special
2023 Full Circle Manny Broward Miniseries

Awards and nominations

On April 26, 2014, Gaffigan received the award for Concert Comedian at the American Comedy Awards for his work.

In 2007, Pale Force was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Broadband Program in the Comedy category. Gaffigan served as executive producer, writer, and lead actor.

In 2016, he won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Morning Program for his contributions as a commentator to CBS Sunday Morning.

Grammy Awards

The Grammy Awards are awarded annually by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Gaffigan has been nominated seven times.

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2013 Best Comedy Album Jim Gaffigan: Mr. Universe Nominated
2015 Obsessed Nominated
2018 Cinco Nominated
2019 Noble Ape Nominated
2020 Quality Time Nominated
2021 The Pale Tourist Nominated
2023 Comedy Monster Nominated

See also

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