Jim Gaffigan On His Show’s Bold New Path, Pastrami, And The Timelessness Of Outrage

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The debut seasons of Seinfeld, The Office, and Parks and Recreation all had their high moments, but when you look back, it’s obvious all three of those shows found another creative gear in their second season. And after watching the first two second-season episodes of The Jim Gaffigan Show, which returns on Sunday night at 10 p.m. ET on TV Land, it’s clear that the series is evolving while still maintaining the winning charm from the first season.

We spoke to Gaffigan earlier this week about the lessons learned from the first season and that desired “bold” evolution, his status as KFC’s Colonel Sanders, New York deli preferences, and the timelessness of outrage.

Are you still the Colonel for KFC?

I think I am. For another month or two, but I think then they’re moving on to another person, I don’t know who that might be. It was always presented to me as a temporary gig. And I thought that was appealing and I’m a huge Darrell Hammond fan and a huge Norm MacDonald fan, so it was great to follow in the footsteps of those guys.

Katz’s Deli has a pretty secure presence on the show. Why Katz’s Deli over something like the Carnegie Deli?

Well, I live downtown and Carnegie is uptown. Katz’s is close to where I live… Also, I think it’s such a big place to shoot. It’s a decent-sized space. I love all kinds of delis. I like the 2nd Avenue Deli. They’ve got a good pastrami, too. Some of the places I like to go to in New York to eat are small… this place called Crif Dogs, you can’t fit any cameras in there.

Yeah, Carnegie is a little tight, but I haven’t been there in awhile. 

Yeah. People sitting on top of you, and everything.

What’s the significance behind the use of the Ben Folds song — “Still Fighting It” — in the first episode of the new season in the Father’s Day episode?

Well, I love that song. I just feel as though that song presents sort of a commentary on how… It’s like a representation of the idea of how we all become our parents. I wanted it in that episode. A glimpse of how me and my dad kind of… Father’s Day is a strange thing, I don’t know if you have kids or not, but when you become a parent it’s a reflection of your father and mother, and how they did it. You can’t really, I don’t think, see [it] when you don’t have kids.

I don’t think I really understood it until I contemplated…. The whole idea of the episode is that, if you’re a parent that is your goal. That’s your gig in life. I just wanted “Still Fighting It” because I think men, when they’re boys or men, they’re fighting kind of this behavior that I think that… maybe it sounds sexist, but I don’t think women have the same battle generally that guys do, little boys do… That grown men have.

Battle as it pertains to what?

As it pertains to just, like, being civilized. I think that if you compare, generally, a 5-year-old boy to a 5-year-old girl, the 5-year-old girl is way more civilized than a 5-year-old boy. Speaking in general terms. Little boys are like orangutans.

What did you learn from season one that you want to apply to season two?

My wife Jeannie and I learned so much in season one, writing and producing. We really learned the kind of show we wanted to do. The complexity of the stories versus season one are, I think, more bold and more complicated. That’s why the trial episode [episode two, which deals with Twitter outrage] is something that I don’t know if we would have done in season one.

Even though we did the Bible episode [in season one], like the trial episode, it’s just something that wouldn’t be on a network show. It would be on a cable show. But I think we needed that first year’s experience to know that we could do an episode with [that kind of] complicated story structure, dealing with a theme about social media and the outrage culture.

Are there more high-concept episodes on the way this season that are kind of like that?

Oh yeah. Yeah, definitely. There are some really funny ones. We’re trying to have each episode be… You know, there’s no filler. We realize if we’re going to get people to go to TV Land, to set their DVR, we have to reward them with an interesting, funny episode. So each of the episodes is really kind of important to us… and nothing is standard now, hopefully.

Speaking about the social outrage episode, the jail episode: Obviously, you had your own experience that you mentioned in the episode with the manicure stuff. That was back in 2013, I believe. Do you think things have gotten worse in the three years since then? With regard to how quickly people become outraged. 

I think the social media outrage is something that has always been in human behavior. Like that last scene where the paper boy comes in [to the courtroom], it was meant to illustrate that we’ve always been doing it. You know? But I think, I don’t know, it’s interesting because I never really thought about: Is it more common now or if it’s more obvious now?

Maybe it’s more widespread as social media becomes part of everyone’s lives now. It’s much less like a niche thing, I think.

I think people can hide behind social media in their outrageous statements of saying this person should die, or “I hate Anne Hathaway” for no reason at all.

You kind of see the influence of social media growing as we’re seeing how important it is in the campaign. I think it was more of a novelty four years ago than it is now, where’s it’s like these people are making official statements on Twitter and Facebook.

Yeah, I think it’s also kind of like… You know like the Elizabeth Warren Twitter/Trump exchange. There’s part of me that’s like, come on. You know what I mean? It’s like, we shouldn’t be doing this. I’m not begrudging Elizabeth Warren, but I’m also kind of like… It doesn’t help it. This isn’t improving the dialogue.

The Jim Gaffigan Show returns this Sunday night on TV Land at 10 p.m. ET.