Jim Gaffigan Talks Parenting, Marriage, and Getting Serious in ‘Chappaquiddick’

“I do think there is a stigma where anytime people see me doing something serious, they get confused.”

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Over the past two decades, Jim Gaffigan has established himself as perhaps the funniest and most beloved dad in stand-up comedy. As a father to five kids, Gaffigan has seamlessly worked the insanity of parenting into his routines, effortlessly waxing poetic on the absurdity of topics like Dora the Explorer, Christmas trees, and – of course – hot pockets.

Gaffigan is far more than just a stand-up comedian, however. The 51-year-old is also an actor, writer, and a showrunner; alongside his wife Jeannie, he co-wrote The Jim Gaffigan Show, a semi-autobiographical sitcom on TVLand that ran for two seasons.

Most recently, Gaffigan stepped away from comedy and embraced the dramatic in Chappaquiddick. The new film – in theaters today – depicts the infamous weekend in 1969 when aspiring Presidential candidate and Senator Ted Kennedy accidentally drove his car off a bridge, resulting in the drowning of his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne. In Chappaquiddick, Gaffigan plays Paul F. Markham, the United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts and confidant to Senator Kennedy.

Fatherly spoke with Gaffigan about his creative partnership with his wife, their decision to end their TV show after two seasons, and why he doesn’t want to be labeled a “dad comic.”

Before Chappaquiddick, you hadn’t done many dramatic roles. What drew you to this part?

I’ve always wanted to do dramas. I’ve done a few here and there, but nothing on a consistent basis. I do think there is a stigma where anytime people see me doing something serious, they get confused. Even when I did a Law & Order episode people said, “What is he doing in a show like this?” But I’ve always been interested in doing work outside of comedy.

Part of it is also traveling. When I was presented with this part, I immediately loved it but I wasn’t sure it was going to work with my schedule. I knew the movie was something I wanted to be a part of and fortunately, they adjusted the schedule so I could do it. And I really enjoyed doing the part.

You’ve pushed back against labels like “clean comic” or “food comic.” Are you similarly resistant to the idea of being labeled a “dad comic”?

I think that comedians only want to be described as one adjective: Funny. So when people start ascribing any adjective to a…

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