How to parent like a comedian, Gaffigan style

Parenting is often a compromise between you and your spouse. However, it's that very melding of styles that makes you both greater than the sum of your individual parts.

JEANNIE GAFFIGAN: Co-parenting as comedians is just completely unique to our own situation because we are, Jim and I are actually really different comedians. I know that sounds really weird because we write together and a lot of times especially with all the standup, that's all his point of view. So I can really write in Jim's point of view. If I bring my point of view into Jim's comedy it's not funny. I'm funny as Jim but in Jim's point of view. In Jim's show I can make observations within his point of view like here is something that you would say in this situation that would be really funny but a lot of the things that he has, kind of his MO are things that really disagree with. I disagree with a lot of his funniness even though I know it's funny. But my lifestyle I would never do some of the things or make the observations that he makes. I have like a Ph.D. in Jim Gaffigan. Like I know what he finds funny. I mean I can't do what he does. He's the head writer of his comedy. I know what my role is and I know that I make it better, but I do it as Jim.

Conversely, when we were writing, when he was writing Dad Is Fat which is the, it's a bestselling book called Dad Is Fat that he wrote about being a father of five kids in a two bedroom apartment. And I was there in the two bedroom apartment so I knew what he was doing and what was funny. But that's when we really found out that he is the observational comedian and the wordsmith and I'm the essayist. I am the storyteller. Like it was pretty clear that we needed to stay working together because it was just enhancing everything we did. I brought a little bit more of a storytelling aspect to the standup comedy as well as the books. And he also in my storytelling could be like you know what's really funny, you know, I wrote the book but he read it and wrote some notes in the margin. I'm like, "Oh, now you're me but you're doing the wordsmithing and I'm doing the storytelling rather than you doing the wordsmithing and I'm coming in at the end with the storytelling." And I think that our collaboration became very, very clear when we wrote the Jim Gaffigan Show because now it was Jim as a character, Jeannie as a character and all these other crazy characters and the kids as characters. We also have a very different opinion about a lot of stuff with parenting. I believe in much more of a reward-punishment situation and dangling the carrot and Jim totally doesn't believe in that.

He believes in just get rid of all the iPads. That's the punishment. And I'm like more if you do A, B and C at the end of the week you get your paycheck which is the iPad. It's training for life and all this stuff. And he's much more of a go to your room type like the end is nothing. And I'm like what do they have to work for if they have nothing to lose. We have a whole thing going on here. But it also turns into a very comic conversation. It's a very comical conversation because we can't – or else it's just going to spiral into we have to find something that we both can grab onto so we compromise through comedy.

  • Sometimes if we bring our own point of view into someone else's act, it's not funny. It's funny through their vantage point.
  • Although Jeannie Gaffigan can channel her husband Jim Gaffigan in writing content for his standup act, she sometimes disagrees with his point of view — even though she knows it's funny.
  • Similarly to their differing styles of comedy — Jeannie is more of an essayist, Jim is more of an observational comedian — they also have differing parenting strategies. Whereas Jeannie believes more in a "reward-punishment situation," Jim believes "get rid of all the iPads." They have different points of views of what will motivate their children, but they compromise.



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