Even though he heralds the wonder of laziness, comedian Jim Gaffigan couldnít be busier these days.
His international Noble Ape Tour makes a stop at Tampaís Amalie Arena on New Yearís Eve. He just wrapped up production as the leading man in the comedy You Can Choose Your Family. He plays the district attorney in the film Chappaquiddick, coming out in April about Sen. Ted Kennedy and the 1969 car accident that took the life of Mary Jo Kopechne. And he is beginning production of a dramatic thriller, Them That Follow, where he plays a pious husband of a community matriarch.
In July, Forbes listed him among the worldís highest-paid comics and estimated his earnings for the year at $30.5 million.
So is the guy with the lazy shtick secretly a hard worker?
"I like to think that I romanticize laziness," Gaffigan said in a phone interview, "but compared to my wife, I am incredibly lazy. Iím just befuddled by her energy level."
All this performing "is definitely taxing," he said, "but itís not as hard as mixing cement, which I did one summer."
From his food choices to his pale complexion to his large Catholic brood, Gaffigan has always mined his life for comedy. And for this tour, the more serious topic of his wifeís brain tumor is on the table as well.
On April 18, Jeannie Gaffiganís tumor ó which was wrapped around her brain stem ó was removed in a nine-hour surgery.
"The brain tumor is gone ó along with my ability to ever win another argument," Gaffigan cracked.
She is his writing partner, so she is right in there with him finding humor in the horror, he said.
"I remember she came out of an MRI and was very much like, ĎWrite this down,í " he said. "Itís just insane. They say donít move and you say what if something is wrong and they say, ĎWell, weíre not going to be able to hear you anyway.í There is this loud thud, and it just sounds like a torture device really."
In the midst of a national conversation about sexual misconduct that has brought to a halt the careers of comedians like Louis C.K. and T.J. Miller, comedian Jessica Delfino wrote about the harassment female comedians face, but she also wrote about the many times male comedians have helped her.
"Jim Gaffigan put me in his TV show and was a regular fixture, reliably lending his star power to a dinky monthly comedy show I helped produce," Delfino wrote. She also told tales of being given a pep talk by Kevin Hart and advice and career boosts from Colin Quinn and Dave Chappelle.
"Thatís encouraging," Gaffigan said when Delfinoís words were read to him.
"Iíve reached out to female comedian friends and say I want to help, and some of it is sitting back and listening and learning," Gaffigan said. "One of them jokingly said, ĎDonít be a pervert. Donít be a creep. Thatís how you can help.í "
"It is kind of this interesting path, we live in this day and age where every day there is something exposed that is horrifying and frightening. I honestly donít know what I could have done even if I did know about it. I was never really in a position of power as it pertains to the Louis C.K. thing. I had assumed it was just rumors."
He doesnít expect much of a rowdy crowd at his show in Tampa, even if it is New Yearís Eve.
"Twenty years ago doing a show on New Yearís, you kind of classified it as an exercise in babysitting," Gaffigan said. "But times have changed. People that are going to come to my show are not a mess. And if they want to go on to a New Yearís Eve party after, they can still go to it."
Tickets are $32-$66 for the bedtime-friendly show at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Amalie Arena. But if you still want to ring in the new year with the rest of Tampa, you will be within walking distance of the fireworks at Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park at midnight.
I interviewed Gaffigan in 2008 and asked him what makes him laugh and here were his answers, and they still hold up nine years later. I asked him again what entertains him in 2017. Social media makes an appearance and the dark mood of the country has him turning toward dramas over comedy.
The website Stuff White People Like
"It just nails it. Even Facebook is on there. White people love Facebook, unpaid internships, having black friends. A lot of stuff thatís in my act is represented there."
With small kids, Pixar movies are a sure bet for the adults to have a good time, too. As for the movieís vision of a future in which humans are obese gluttons who never leave their padded floating arm chairs? "Thatís my dream."
Hot Pockets commercials
"They recently announced that itís now made with real cheese. Really? Do you even want to admit it wasnít real cheese to begin with? And then they came out with Vegetarian Pockets, for those of us who donít want to eat meat, but still want diarrhea."
The standup comic, writer, actor and creator of the original U.K. version of The Office "is one of the great comedic minds," mostly because he ended The Office on a high note. "He could have run that into the ground but he stopped. Heís never done something just for the $5 million."
"Anthony Anderson (Black-ish) will post some really obnoxious video of someone just doing something embarrassing, like dancing on a table and falling off." A post this week included a video of a large-bottomed woman twerking on the roof of a car. She then falls into the windshield, cracking it badly. "I think whatís appealing about those kinds of videos is we all can identify with it. Itís the basis of every Shakespearean play, the hubris."
"I think Nate Bargatze (who was part of Jimmy Fallonís Clean Cut Comedy Tour) is really funny and the guy who opens for me, Ted Alexander, makes me laugh so hard."
"I donít watch television comedies these days. Iím sure they are great but my appetite at this point of my life is just looking at dramas or Iím just consumed with watching the news."