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Jim Gaffigan has been married 15 years and has five kids: not the typical profile for a popular comedian. His wife, Jeannie, recently survived a brain tumor. Gaffigan drew on their medical experiences for his new special, Noble Ape, available on cable and streaming services.
Brain surgery is an unlikely topic for comedy, but Gaffigan has a gift for finding humor in tough circumstances: “Why are doctors so obsessed at comparing the size of tumors with fruit? Do they think we can’t understand centimeters?” Gaffigan also wonders why anyone would be content with less than the intensive care unit. Who wants to be in the pretty good care unit?
He jokes that, at the sight of his large family walking into a restaurant, a waitress once threw down her apron and quit. His 5-year-old’s greatest memory after traveling around China, seeing the Great Wall, the Terracotta Army, and other famous sights? “I liked when we saw that truck full of pigs!”
Gaffigan is a Catholic, but claims that he’s not a very good one: “If there were a test, I’d probably fail. Then again, most Catholics would!” He’s known as a “family-friendly” comedian, and much of his material is inoffensive and quite funny.
Several jokes suggest he does not take the Bible seriously, though. He ridicules hospitals named after Biblical places of healing, comparing miracles to astrology or UFOs. Viewers could fast-forward through a lame joke about St. Boniface being the patron saint of bowel issues, and the accompanying casual blasphemy.
Overall, is it funny? Some of Gaffigan’s stories were a little too meandering and long-winded, and the punch lines weren’t worth the journey. The teens and adults in my small family test audience didn’t laugh a lot during the hourlong viewing. If you’re a fan of Gaffigan’s past work, you’ll probably enjoy Noble Ape. Otherwise, you won’t miss much if you give it a pass.