A stand-up comedian perhaps best known for his intimate understanding of gluttony and sloth, first-time author Jim Gaffigan takes on fatherhood in “Dad Is Fat,” from which he’ll be reading BEFORE A SELL-OUT CROWD Thursday EVENING at Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline.
The book’s title comes courtesy of Gaffigan’s oldest son — it was the boy’s first full sentence — and pretty much captures the author’s disarming self-deprecation and blunt self-assessment. Asked whether he sees himself in the tradition of comically bumbling fathers, Gaffigan admits that he is “pretty befuddled” — it’s not entirely an act. But underneath it all, this dad, who describes himself as the family’s second-banana “Vice President,” is a very involved father to his five children. That’s right. Five. All under AGE 8. And all living with Gaffigan and his wife in a two-bedroom New York apartment.
“It’s strange,” Gaffigan told me. “I never thought I’d be a comedian that talked so much about food, and I never thought I’d be married.” The youngest of six children, Gaffigan says he was “very comfortable with the idea of being the weird uncle that went out and did stand-up every night.” Then he met his FUTURE wife, Jeannie, got married, and before he knew it the former loner became “a loner with a chronic and acute case of children.”
Reading his book, it’s clear that while Gaffigan adores his kids, a state of shock still lingers — or maybe that’s just sleep deprivation. Expectations for fathers have changed since Gaffigan was a kid. “Previous generations, dads didn’t have to do anything, and they didn’t feel guilty about it at all,” he says. “I’m happy to say I’m an involved dad, and I still feel guilty.”
It took Gaffigan a while to feel comfortable mining his family status for humor — he says he didn’t want to be known as “the dad comic” — but his words come as welcome commiseration for any reader stumbling through his or her own baby fog.
Kate Tuttle, a writer and editor, can be reached at email@example.com.