It’s tough for a stand-up comedian to fill a venue. Especially on a Sunday night. Especially in a theater that holds 2,500+ patrons. Especially filling it for TWO shows. And, perhaps the most difficult feat of all, doing all of this while competing against the National Hamburger Festival. Jim Gaffigan leaped over these hurdles to perform two nearly sold-out shows at the historic Akron Civic Theatre tonight (08.09.15).
After a short video promoting the comic’s new televised series, ‘The Jim Gaffigan Show,’ (which airs on TV Land on Wednesdays at 10/9C), Jim took the stage to thunderous applause. After the obligatory “it’s great to be in Akron” nonsense, Gaffigan immediately took aim at the Hamburger Festival that crowded the street outside the theater. After (erroneously) stating that the hamburger was “invented” in Akron, it was suggested that Akronites should be ALMOST as proud of LeBron James as they are beef patties, but the edge should still go to the burger because “a hamburger will never disappoint you.”
Gaffigan’s humor focused on a variety of current social topics, his distaste for hiking and the outdoors, and lots of emphasis on his family, which includes five young children ranging in age from 2 to 11. Some statements about his parenting drew gasps from the crowd. Relax, people! He’s a comedian. These are jokes.
Jim is one of the hardest working performers in the biz. It’s hard to fathom how difficult it is to come up with an hour+ of funny material in a lifetime, let alone an entire new set almost every single year. All the while, with irons in other fires, such as taking time out to raise five children, write top selling books, and filming a television series. No cue cards, no teleprompter, no props, no gimmicks. Just Jim with an hour of memorized material that he did not stumble on one time during the set.
No Gaffigan show is complete without his trademarked Hot Pocket bit. Although hearing one’s favorite joke from the mouth of a comedian doesn’t have the same appeal of a band rocking one’s favorite song during the encore of a concert, fans of Gaffigan who come out every year never tire of this oldie but goodie. No encore, just a simple “thanks for coming,” house lights up, patrons out the door, laughter filling the streets of Akron.
Gaffigan: 1 National Hamburger Festival: 0
Opening for Mr. Gaffigan was the HILARIOUS Ted Alexandro. While few (if any) patrons were familiar with this former elementary school music teacher before entering the theater, Alexandro had the crowd laughing their collective asses off. Alexandro simultaneously poked fun and praised himself for being 46 years of age and still single with no children. He discussed his tour of duty of teaching the recorder (or, “the devil’s flute,” as he described it) and how “Hot Cross Buns” was the class’ equivalent of “Freebird.” While family friendly for the most part, parents who brought their two-years-away-from-adolescent children probably blushed when Alexandro talked about, among other topics, why the term “sexual preference” does not make any sense.
Ted ended his time by plugging his web series, so I’ll do the same. ‘Teacher’s Lounge’ can be viewed on his official YouTube channel. The series features short episode that star Alexandro as a school music teacher and fellow comic Hollis James as the janitor. Each episode features a special guest that so far have included Jim Gaffigan, Ted Leo, and Lewis Black, among others.