What is masculinity? Should gentlemen watch pornography? How do we raise sons to be better than their fathers? What's for dinner? Comedian Jim Gaffigan mulls over these big questions and more.
"I haven’t slept in seven years," says Jim Gaffigan, in reference to having his fourth child. "I didn’t always look like this – I’m actually Puerto Rican, but the wear and tear parenting… " he trails off, exhausted.
This is a bit from his 2012 stand-up comedy special Mr. Universe, and by now Gaffigan actually has five children. "Big families are like waterbed stores; they used to be everywhere, and now they’re just weird," he jokes.
It’s only natural that many of Gaffigan’s jokes are about kids and family life. His 2013 book is called Dad is Fat, which took its title from the full sentence his kid ever wrote. His TV series The Jim Gaffigan Show is a hilarious meditation on one man's struggle to find balance between fatherhood, stand-up comedy and an insatiable appetite. Jim Gaffigan knows fatherhood, or if that’s too arrogant, then at least he knows the complexities fatherhood brings.
And yet, he finds it a difficult subject to talk about because of its enormity. It is such a deep human experience, with lines cast out to all corners of life. Being a father made Gaffigan re-examine his masculinity, his ethics, his comedy, his sexual attitudes, his gender biases. By his own admission, it turned him into a better human.
In the video above, Gaffigan discusses the drastic changes that have reshaped the meaning of manhood in the last couple of decades, and emphasizes that you can’t begin to talk about masculinity without talking about women. The behaviors of men and women have always been reactions to one another, and as society views and treats women becomes in a more respectful and progressive manner, the concept of manhood also moves forward and becomes less of a caricature.
So how do you raise children in the wake of that enlightenment? From pornography and gentlemanly passion, to the changing role of fathers and the growing respect for women, Jim Gaffigan shares his thoughts on how to raise a generation that is better than the last.