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Father Knows Best

Comedian Jim Gaffigan muses on parenthood in his latest book.

Jim Gaffigan

Jim Gaffigan is a comedian, actor, father of five—and if that didn’t keep him busy enough, he’s now added author to his repertoire. The 47-year-old, famous for his hilarious asides and musings on culinary delicacies like cake and Hot Pockets, released a collection of essays earlier this summer dubbed Dad is Fat ($15, Crown Archetype). The book’s laugh-out-loud stories of parenthood, mixed with Gaffigan’s own upbringing anecdotes, have earned the tome best-seller status, plus an additional deal for another book to be released sometime in 2014 (this time covering another one of his great loves: food). His TV pilot, about life with a gaggle of kids, was also just picked up by CBS. In the midst of all this, Gaffigan found time to chat with us after a signing at Manuel’s Tavern in Poncey-Highland about writing his first book and why Brad Pitt would play him in his biopic, naturally.

Life as a professional comedian with five kids seems hectic. Why did you decide to write a book, too?
I knew that I wanted to write a book about parenting and being a dad a couple years ago, but I didn’t know what angle I wanted to take on it. I wanted to find a middle ground that captured my befuddlement with parenting, but on an observational level that also captured the amazing aspects of parenting, and how it’s baffling, but I love it.

What was the hardest part about writing the book?
I wrote it with my wife, so without her involvement, I don’t think it would have been such a great experience, and the book wouldn’t be as good as it is. The most difficult thing in standup is getting to a point where you can communicate an idea in the shortest way possible—and you have the advantage of facial expressions and vocal inflection that you don’t have in an essay.

What’s an ideal day for you?
It would automatically include a nap and spending time with my kids. I don’t need anything fancy. Just hanging out with my kids, making them laugh and eating some good food would be the peak of it all.

I heard the book title is the first sentence your son ever wrote.
Yeah! When little kids start writing and reading, it’s at a very simplistic level—words like ‘cat’ and ‘mom’ and ‘dad.’ The first sentence my son wrote on a dry-erase board was, ‘Dad is fat.’ Then I put him up for adoption, of course.

You’ve spent plenty of time in Atlanta. What did you think?
I’ve done shows at The Punchline, The Tabernacle and Cobb Energy Centre. I’ve been here enough to be conscious of the Atlanta traffic. I did an event at the Georgia Aquarium that was pretty spectacular.

Now for the fun stuff. Who was your first celebrity crush?
Maybe Courteney Cox in that Bruce Springsteen video for ‘Dancing in the Dark.’

What are you afraid of?
Missing out on opportunities

What’s the one thing you’re most proud of?
Not being as selfish as I used to be

When are you happiest?
After a nap with my kids

What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I’m not African-American.

What’s your favorite word?
Didgeridoo

Who would play you in your biopic?
Definitely Brad Pitt. You know, if they can clean him up and make him look better. He’s letting himself go a little bit.