One of the great comedy bits of the past 10 years is Jim Gaffigan's "Hot Pockets" routine. It usually starts like this:
"I've never eaten a Hot Pocket and then afterwards (said), 'I'm glad I ate that.' I'm always like, 'I'm gonna die. ... Did I eat it or rub it on my face?' "
Then comes five minutes of hilarious absurdities about the Hot Pocket. He'll be doing Hot Pockets again today at Mandalay Bay (8 p.m.; $63.05; 632-7580), because fans demand it. He says it's like when people see the Rolling Stones and say, "Can you stop counting those million-dollar bills and play 'Satisfaction'?"
"People come with their 10-year-olds, and I think 10-year-olds come just for the Hot Pocket jokes," Gaffigan says. "If I didn't do that, people would be very angry."
Gaffigan is more than the Hot Pocket guy. He's one of the funniest stand-ups alive, even though he really doesn't do a lot of political punch lines or sex-centric humor.
He looks for things that are funny about regular life, and food especially, from Doritos to doughnuts, plus the bit about restaurant delivery: "Delivery is really a combination of my two favorite activities: eating and not moving.
"I just can't pull off political jokes, essentially because it divides half the room," he says. "I don't worry people are going to get upset that I'm talking about ketchup. There's no one in the audience who's, like, 'I liked him until he did the ketchup stuff.' "
I've interviewed Gaffigan quite a few times over the years, and he's always quick with a line. This time, our conversation goes like this:
ME: I hear comedy writing is the hardest thing in the world.
HIM: I watched my wife give birth a couple times. That always seems excruciating, more than the possibility of getting humiliated onstage.
ME: What's the hardest part of comedy writing?
HIM: Getting up in the morning.
ME: I like getting up in the morning.
HIM: What? You get up and say, "Yay?"
ME: I want to wake up like Cameron Diaz in "Charlie's Angels" and dance my butt at the mirror.
HIM: I didn't see "Charlie's Angels." It wasn't in the graduate film studies classes. Why didn't they just call that movie "Give Us Your Money"?
ME: Yeah, but Cameron Diaz's butt looks so cute.
HIM: You're going to hell for that.
Doug Elfman's column appears on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Contact him at 702-383-0391 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.