‘Jim Gaffigan: Noble Ape’ finds the funny even in a brain tumor

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“I rescued a dog. Well, it’s not like the dog was drowning. The dog wasn’t a victim of sex trafficking. I just went in a building, gave a guy money and got a dog. After that, I rescued a pizza.” – Jim Gaffigan, “Noble Ape.”

Jim Gaffigan’s wife had a brain tumor the size of a pear, and that’s hilarious material.

Hey! Don’t get mad at me. The likable and insightful and wicked-funny Gaffigan is the one who mines his wife’s illness for a solid chunk of comedy in “Jim Gaffigan: Noble Ape,” a gimmick-free, hour-plus stand-up special.

Directed by Jeannie Gaffigan. As in, the one with the pear-sized tumor. (Recovery has been tough as hell, but she’s FINE, everyone.) The mother of five children with the self-deprecating comedian. His partner in comedic exploration.

“Jim Gaffigan: Noble Ape” is a vibrant example of the art of stand-up comedy done well. Armed with nothing but a microphone, clad in black, facing an (unseen) audience hanging on his every turn of phrase, Jim Gaffigan is a master of the craft.

He’s just damn funny is what he is.

Gaffigan is an observational wizard who filters experiences we’ve all had and turns them into comedic gold.

Why are tumors so often compared to fruit? Why is the grapefruit the worst tumor — AND the worst fruit? How absurd is a three-story M&M store in London? Why do we hang onto clothes after we have “fatted out” of the wardrobe, as if a shirt is going to reverse a 40-year pattern of gaining weight?

Gaffigan’s a regular guy holding up a mirror to our everyday world, and turning those reflections into laughs and bigger laughs — and sometimes best of all, smiles of recognition.


Comedy Dynamics presents a film directed by Jeannie Gaffigan. No MPAA rating. Running time: 70 minutes. Opens Friday at Facets Cinematheque and on demand.

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