Comedian and actor Jim Gaffigan lives happily with his wife and his five young children in a two-bedroom apartment in lower Manhattan. You read that right: Five kids. Two parents. Two bedrooms. His latest book, Dad Is Fat, reflects on the challenges and triumphs of raising a big family in a small space.
We've invited Gaffigan to answer three questions about the health habits of Gwyneth Paltrow.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
And now the game you only get to play if you've already won the game of life. Jim Gaffigan is not somebody you'd expect to be one of the famous, successful, beloved comedians working today. For one thing, he's the happily married father of five little kids, who he often tours with. You have to understand, by comedy standards, that makes him a freak. Jim Gaffigan, welcome to WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!.
JIM GAFFIGAN: Well, thanks for having me.
SAGAL: Now this is true that I think of comedians, not - present company excepted, of course, Paula and Maz, as being people who are sort of tormented and have difficult lives, and that's where they get their comedy, but you've been happily married for many years, and you have five small kids.
GAFFIGAN: Yes, yes. I mean, well, I should clarify that anyone that goes onstage and makes strangers laugh is insane. So I am insane.
GAFFIGAN: But, you know, I mean, I would say that I'm a crazy man who's very lucky. You know, I am happily married to a Shiite Catholic, so...
GAFFIGAN: I haven't talked to her in 10 minutes. She might be pregnant again.
SAGAL: Really? You never know with her. And I heard that you live with these five kids, and your wife of course, in a two-bedroom apartment in Lower Manhattan?
GAFFIGAN: Yes, it's also a five-story walk-up. But I should say that we're not trying to prove anything. It's not like I'm going to raise my kids in a box. That's not the goal.
GAFFIGAN: I mean we started looking after our third kid, but you can't really turn to someone who's eight months pregnant and say, all right, let's start packing up some of the plates. You have to - my wife has been pregnant the past, you know, eight years.
PAULA POUNDSTONE: Hey, Jim, do you yet know what causes that?
GAFFIGAN: I'm - the stork just keeps hanging around me.
SAGAL: Now you have a new book called "Your Dad," no, it's called "Dad is Fat."
SAGAL: And where does that title come from?
GAFFIGAN: That was - "Dad is Fat" was the first sentence that my now seven-year-old son wrote on a dry erase board when he was about four or five. And he showed it to me, and I laughed, and then I put him up for adoption.
SAGAL: You used to have six. And so, and is this a book about parenting? Is this a book about being a dad?
GAFFIGAN: Yeah, it's about parenting. You know, I mean, I was someone who 10 years ago - or 12 years ago really couldn't even get a date. And it's, you know, I love my kids. I have no idea what I'm doing. I kind of set out - you know, I wrote it with my wife. We didn't want to do a book that was I hate my kids, or we didn't want to do a book that was I worship my kids.
So it's more or less I have no idea what I'm doing. That's the premise.
SAGAL: Right. So you write jokes with your wife?
SAGAL: That probably gets - that probably sort of keeps you from doing a lot of the classic, well, let me tell you about my wife jokes.
GAFFIGAN: Yeah, well, no, there's definitely - I mean, she's editing, but there is also, I mean it's a very unique, you know, relationship that we have. And...
POUNDSTONE: Where did you guys - where did you guys meet, Jim?
GAFFIGAN: I bought her from Russia.
GAFFIGAN: We met in our neighborhood in New York City. And I was - she would come to my shows, and she would provide suggestions. And I would be like that's interesting, no. But then eventually the ideas were great, and I was using most of them. And now we write everything together.
POUNDSTONE: I still don't see how you met. You said she was in the neighborhood. Where? Where did you first lay eyes on - where specifically?
GAFFIGAN: What do you need, footage?
POUNDSTONE: Is there...
GAFFIGAN: We met, actually it's called Eden Farm. It's a Korean deli on Prince Street in New York City. The zip code is 10012.
SAGAL: All right?
MAZ JOBRANI: I think - you're looking for a co-writer, is that what you're looking for? She's going to the deli.
SAGAL: Fine, fine, we've beaten around the bush enough. It's time to talk to Mr. Gaffigan about Hot Pockets because, as everyone knows, you went from successful to very successful when you started your routine about Hot Pockets, the delicious frozen entree. Was - first of all, I mean, how in the world did you start with that? Where did that come from? You're eating a Hot Pocket one day, and you...
GAFFIGAN: Well, no, I - it started, I think it's very lucky. First of all, the whole Hot Pocket thing is kind of a blessing and a curse, right? It's made it so I can perform in theaters, and people have been exposed to my comedy. But I certainly don't need more drunk college kids yelling Hot Pocket at me.
SAGAL: Really, so - I mean because people, you need to see this routine. It's hilarious. It's extended. So people like come out, and like you're walking through a college campus and doing a show, and they come out, and they go Hot Pockets?
GAFFIGAN: Yeah. No, I'll be walking with my kids down the street or in an airport, and people will yell Hot Pockets, and I never know how to respond. Like I don't know if I should say...
POUNDSTONE: Is that how you met your wife?
GAFFIGAN: The irony, Paula, is she was dressed as a Hot Pocket.
JOBRANI: Do your kids know why people are calling you Hot Pocket?
GAFFIGAN: Yeah, yes. You know, my kids have actually never eaten a Hot Pocket. That's the irony. But yeah, they know, they know about the Hot Pocket thing because it's pretty unavoidable that after about 10 times, my son's like why do they keep saying Hot Pocket.
GAFFIGAN: And I said don't ask; that's how we're paying for college.
SAGAL: One last question for you. You're known for being rather pale, right, this is one of your things. And this came up, we were talking about this today, and one of our producers says, well, I'm very pale. I wonder if he glows in the dark. And we're like, do you glow in the dark? And she's like, yeah, I do, you know, I glow in the dark. I'm pale.
And so the question for you, Jim Gaffigan, is do you glow in the dark?
GAFFIGAN: Gosh, I suppose I do. I mean, I never really thought about it like that. That's like the first time. You know, since I grew up this kid, very, you know, like I hated the fact that I was pale, and then, you know, it ended up being part of standup, and I came up with this thing with my brother-in-law called the Pale Force where all these pale people are like, oh, finally someone's talking about being pale.
GAFFIGAN: But, you know, I'm definitely hesitant wearing shorts during the summer. Like for a pale person, you know, summer - everyone in the world is so excited for summer, but pale people, we're just like, oh no.
SAGAL: Really? Not being particularly pale, I did not know that pale shame was a thing.
GAFFIGAN: Oh, yeah. Well, you know, it's also hard to articulate because you can't have pale pride because the Germans kind of messed that up.
SAGAL: That's true. Well, Jim Gaffigan, we're delighted to have you here, and we have asked you here...
SAGAL: It's true. And we've asked you here to play a game we're calling...
CARL KASELL: Gaffigan meet Gwyneth-igan.
GAFFIGAN: All right.
SAGAL: It occurred to us that you have many things in common with Gwyneth Paltrow.
POUNDSTONE: She's pale.
SAGAL: You both - well exactly - very pale, very attractive, successful entertainers. But you have different health habits So we're going to ask you three questions about living life the pure Gwyneth way.
SAGAL: Get two questions right, you'll win our prize for one of our listeners, Carl's voice on their voicemail. Carl, who is Jim Gaffigan playing for?
KASELL: Jim is playing for Amy Larson of Hillsboro, Oregon.
SAGAL: All right, ready to play, Jim?
GAFFIGAN: Oh, I hate that lady.
GAFFIGAN: No, no, she's great, she's great.
SAGAL: It's all in the past now. Here is your first question. Gwyneth Paltrow believes that she is qualified to be a self-actualization guru, well why? A, quote, "Well, I'm perfect, right? What more evidence do you need," unquote; B, people have been asking her for advice since she was, as she says, in the womb; or C, she was told so by the rocks at Red Rocks in Colorado.
GAFFIGAN: Hold on a second, I have to throw up.
GAFFIGAN: Wow. I would say it's the Red Rocks.
SAGAL: You're right, Jim, it is the Red Rocks.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: Gwyneth says, quote, "I was starting to hike up the Red Rocks, and honestly, it was if I heard the rocks say: You have the answers. You are your own teacher." Now she's ours. What, Paula?
POUNDSTONE: You know what? They said something entirely different to me.
SAGAL: So Gwyneth has published a book, a diet plan, and writer Rebecca Harrington tried it earlier this year, she's going to eat like Gwyneth every day. And on day 10, she reported: A, that Gwyneth's daily air snacks were not very filling.
SAGAL: B, that she'd gotten really defined arms from, quote, "having hysterical fits every day"; C, quote, "Day 10, so cold. So alone. May not survive. Someone send barbecue."
GAFFIGAN: Wow, I would say the second one, with the great arms.
SAGAL: The great arms from having hysterical fits.
SAGAL: You're right. That's what she said.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
POUNDSTONE: Wow, good for you.
SAGAL: Apparently Gwyneth's diet will send you into anxiety, and that's how Gwyneth gets her guns. So here's your last question - Gwyneth got her gun. Last question, even Gwyneth isn't perfect. Just kidding, she is. But when asked what her problem areas are, she answered, quote, what? A, "My butt. My butt, butt, butt"; B, "I feel, with a little work, I could be even whiter"; or C, "I did marry a guy from Coldplay."
GAFFIGAN: Isn't her, you know, her kid's uncle is Uncle Jay-Z? So I would say it's the whiter thing.
SAGAL: She feels with a little work she could be even whiter?
SAGAL: I love the fact you picked that.
SAGAL: So I'm not going to talk you out of it, but in fact is was A, my butt, my butt, my butt. That's what she thinks. Carl, how did Jim Gaffigan do on our quiz?
KASELL: Well, Jim had two correct answers, Peter, and that's good enough to win for Amy Larson, congratulations.
SAGAL: Well done, yay.
SAGAL: Jim Gaffigan is coming to a city near you. For tour dates, go to JimGaffigan.com. His latest book is "Dad is Fat." Jim Gaffigan, thank you so much for joining us.
POUNDSTONE: Thanks, Jim.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.