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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

'The Jim Gaffigan Show' - Catholic Humor?

‘The Jim Gaffigan Show’ – Catholic Humor?

          I love the Web site  It gives detailed reviews of movies, both currently in theaters and available on video.  The reviews are done from a sensitive Christian perspective, and give details on what to expect regarding language, sex, violence, positive/negative messages, etc.  We rarely watch an unfamiliar movie with our kids without checking it out on Dove first.
          It is for that reason that I am writing this post.  Lately, I have seen excitement and even articles from Catholic publications about Jim Gaffigan and “Catholic humor.”  The Jim Gaffigan Show is debuting on TV Land July 15, and many Catholics are excited about it.
          I have seen an episode of the show that has been released by TV Land on Youtube, as well as many previews, so I wanted to share my thoughts.  First, this is no critique of Mr. Gaffigan himself.  I don’t know him personally and am only marginally familiar with his stand-up comedy.  I, like many Catholics, appreciate the fact that he is open about his Catholicism, and doesn’t apologize for having five children.  I suspect he is a faithful Catholic man, and probably a pretty fun guy. 
          I also do not intend to comment on the humor of The Jim Gaffigan Show.  We all have different tastes.  I only want to give some details that Catholics may want to know before sitting down and watching it, especially with their kids.
          In the episode I saw, Gaffigan was running some errands for his wife (and goofing them up, of course).  There were many positives to speak of.  First, he was registering his kids for St. Faustina’s Catholic School.  One of the characters was a priest, and the episode ended with the Gaffigan family at Mass.
          The representatives of the Church were portrayed positively (not caricatured) and the Faith was obviously important to Gaffigan’s family life.  Gaffigan’s failures were the focal points of most of the humor.
          Of course it is a good thing to be able to laugh at ourselves, so I am not commenting on whether anyone should watch.  However, there are some things to be aware of.  First, there was some “colorful” language that I wasn’t overly comfortable with, and certainly wouldn’t want my children hearing.  (A TV Guardian, that eliminates foul language, if you have one, would probably solve that problem.)
          There was some off-color humor, as well.  One of the central, recurring jokes revolved around Gaffigan’s son’s school art project, which consisted of a drawing of his father’s privates.  Another revolved around Gaffigan’s covering for a philandering friend.
          There are also some stereotypes that some people won’t appreciate.  There are jokes surrounding Gaffigan’s lack of Mass attendance, and the previews show that one episode focuses on his seeking a vasectomy (though I don’t know how that story line ends).  My concern with these issues is that they are monumental problems we currently face in the Church, and while it is good to laugh at ourselves, it’s not good to minimize major problems.  (To be fair, the show did portray Gaffigan’s Mass absences as, if not a serious matter, at least as a personal flaw.)  Finally, my wife has a major pet peeve about the stereotype of the foolish father figure.  Although one episode isn’t enough to make a complete judgment, that stereotype was present.
          I guess those are the important things people might want to know (what they might find in a Dove review).  Again, this is not meant as criticism of Mr. Gaffigan personally, whose willingness to identify with his Faith, especially in the challenging and often hostile world of mainstream entertainment, is something I truly admire.