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Jim and Jeannie Gaffigan have done what most people say they want to do, but few accomplish. They’ve created a hilariously funny television show about their lives and their family and they did it all exactly how they wanted to. The Jim Gaffigan Show premieres Wednesday July 15th on TV Land, and yesterday Jim and Jeannie sat down with SiriusXM’s Ron Bennington in the world famous Carolines on Broadway Comedy Club, in front of a packed house to talk about how they pulled it all off. Their story is like a class on television 101, and any aspiring comedian or fan who just loves to go beyond the fourth wall will want to hear this hour from start to finish.
But the real takeaway from yesterdays hour at Carolines is that Jeannie is the smart one, and Jim really loves breakfast burritos.
Jim and Jeannie have been writing together for around 12 years now, and their relationship has evolved into something that works far better than most collaborations. At first, she would just produce for Jim. But after years of working together, Jeannie found that she could write in his point of view. “So if he made 5 observations about a donut, I could make 5 more, and it just kind of pulled the resources together a lot, because I don’t have the same point of view myself about donuts, but I understand Jim’s point of view about donuts.”
Jim agreed, saying that finding someone to write with is a lot more difficult than he realized.
“When people have tried to write for me it’s like, alright…I’m a fat sack of turds,” Jim said. “But its a little bit more nuanced than that, hopefully.” He explained that writing together is something that has evolved. “We’ve gone through writing stand up and writing books and now writing the show. Its fun because its being embraced as this unique thing; it almost gets codependent where I’m like ‘I- need- you-to-look-at-this-joke.’ Writing the books, it was like, [to Jeannie] turn this into something that’s readable.”
That relationship has evolved from Jeannie acting as a producer, to a writing partner, and now they are executive producing together, and Jeannie’s contributions are now as important as Jim’s. “Jeannie, she’s the smart one,” Jim said. “She’s the real deal.” Both Jim and Jeannie executive produce new The Jim Gaffigan Show, and both of them are fiercely protective of the show’s integrity, but in many ways it’s Jeannie who is the show’s keeper .
“It’s really hard for Jim because Jim’s also executive producing the show. So one of us has got to be not in 90% of the scenes, because he has to get off book for all these enormously rich dialog scenes. And I’m very like ‘that word is wrong!” There is a lot of improv in it, but there are certain words that are key to paying off later that we’re going to repeat, so he has to know his lines. So he has to executive produce the show, and be aware of everything as well as be in front of the camera. So it’s actually turned out to be a blessing that I’m not in front of the camera in this show, playing Jeannie Gaffigan.”
She told Bennington that there had been a time in the show’s evolution where she had planned to play herself. Then when they moved to CBS with the show, the decision was made to cast a big name celebrity in the role, and that was when she realized that she needed to be off camera.
“In the NBC version I was playing Jeannie Gaffigan. And when we went to CBS they were like Star plays Jeannie Gaffigan. It’s a whole different thing. Who is the most popular actress in the whole world to play Jeannie Gaffigan and we went that route the first time. And then at that point, I was producing and I was like, this is where I have to be for this, to protect the integrity of our life and our writing. Cause it’s just too much, and so when ultimately the network recast that role and said we want to find a different person to play Jeannie, I was like let me be involved in the casting of Jeannie.”
And Jim…well, Jim really loves breakfast burritos.
You can hear the interview in its entirely exclusively on SiriusXM. It’s full of amazing insight into the process of putting together a network show, and how and why they did things differently.
The Jim and Jeannie Gaffigan episode of Unmasked premieres today at 2pm et on SiriusXM’s Raw Dog 99 during the Bennington show. You will also be able to listen on demand on SiriusXM, and hear replays on Raw Dog Comedy Hits 99 Saturday at 7pm, and on Sunday at 2pm and 10pm. You can also hear replays on the Opie Radio channel on Friday at 11pm, and Sunday at 10am.
The Jim Gaffigan Show premieres on TV Land at 10pm on July 15th.