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Comedian Jim Gaffigan Shares How To Survive Holiday Political Debates


Whether you're counting votes, counting your blessings or counting olives for your martini, tomorrow is a big day.


JIM GAFFIGAN: Thanksgiving, you know - Thanksgiving - it's like we didn't even try to come up with a tradition. The tradition is we overeat.


GAFFIGAN: Hey, how about at Thanksgiving we just eat a lot.


GAFFIGAN: We do that every day.


GAFFIGAN: Oh, what if we eat a lot with people that annoy the hell out of us?


GAFFIGAN: Oh, he's anti-family.

MCEVERS: That's Jim Gaffigan from "Beyond The Pale." And since he is not anti-family, we've asked him to help us help ourselves this Thanksgiving when we will not only be mixing in-laws and cocktails but also politics. Jim Gaffigan, welcome to the show.

GAFFIGAN: Thank you for having me. I think this is a unique Thanksgiving, right?

MCEVERS: Yeah...

GAFFIGAN: This is...

MCEVERS: ...You think?

GAFFIGAN: The timing of Thanksgiving - it seems like, you know, I think Abraham Lincoln started the official date and it - now it seems like a cruel joke. It's like, OK, here's the idea. We'll have an incredibly divisive election...

MCEVERS: (Laughter).

GAFFIGAN: ...And then we'll have a couple weeks to stew on it, and then we'll make everyone eat turkey.

MCEVERS: With people they haven't seen since last year.

GAFFIGAN: Right. And so there's something about it that's funny, but I think that - maybe I'm being an optimist. I think it's almost fortunate that this is happening. How about that for positivity?

MCEVERS: (Laughter) Oh, really, Why?

GAFFIGAN: I mean, look, I'm, you know, I'm kind of an Irish Catholic guy. So, like, you know...

MCEVERS: Kind of.

GAFFIGAN: ...My family - people, you know, if you have an argument with someone, you're just kind of like - you're like all right, I'm not talking to them the rest of my lives, you know, whereas with Thanksgiving, you're forced to put in this situation.

And I think it's a positive scenario where, you know, maybe somebody voted a different way, but you can remember oh, yeah, that's right, they took me to the state fair when I was eight. So we can humanize some of these issues that divide us.

MCEVERS: What are your plans for Thanksgiving?

GAFFIGAN: My wife has decided to cook, which on appearance it seems like a really bad idea because we have five young children.


GAFFIGAN: And essentially, Thanksgiving is the most complicated meal you can think of. Every night, dinner is just pasta. It's just different shapes of pasta.

MCEVERS: (Laughter).

GAFFIGAN: That's so - like, now the Thanksgiving meal is just so unnecessarily difficult. I mean even mashed potatoes - it's like the most difficult kind of, you know, medieval idea. All right, instead of just cooking them, why don't you spend, like, eight hours peeling them and then we'll have to mash them up. It feels like prison labor, really...

MCEVERS: (Laughter).

GAFFIGAN: ...Making mashed potatoes. So...

MCEVERS: For that many people, but also, like, I would imagine that many people with, like, a bunch of, like, differing demands - like, I want my mashed potatoes cold, and I want my potatoes sliced. Like, that's what it sounds like at my house.

GAFFIGAN: Yeah, well, kids - the Thanksgiving dishes, even the side dishes - I think people can forget. To a little kid, candied yams are not something they've even heard of, and (laughter) they're not interested in having something...

MCEVERS: (Laughter).

GAFFIGAN: ...For instance, like stuffing that - it's like some bread dish that was cooked inside of a carcass of an animal. Like, it's - for a little kid...

MCEVERS: It's like, can we just have chicken fingers, like what's the problem (laughter).

GAFFIGAN: Yeah, it's a big leap, yeah.

MCEVERS: I want to talk about how we can deal with the, you know, the elephant in the room like politics. Want to start with a note from Annalee Oakley, who sent a photograph of a sign that her daughter drew. She hung it on the door the day of her 10th birthday party. And it's this pink sign that says no politicking. And, like, in the O of the no is, like, this, like, angry sad face.


MCEVERS: And Annalee writes, you know, by the way, the party was wonderful. She had an awesome, conflict-free celebration. They think they'll do the same for Thanksgiving. So I mean, what do you think? Like, lay the responsibility on the kids to keep the peace. Do you think that's a good tactic?

GAFFIGAN: I - you know, look. I've built a career on food as medicine. So I think it's just consume food. I mean, alcohol - never a good idea (laughter). You know what I mean?

MCEVERS: (Laughter). You're Irish. What are you talking about?

GAFFIGAN: I might have a disagreement with this guy. Adding booze - probably not going to help solve it.

MCEVERS: OK. Do you think that the adults are going to behave better or worse with kids around?

GAFFIGAN: It's interesting you say that because my eldest children are 10 and 12, and they are the most opinionated on this presidential election. But I like people with different opinions. I think it'll be fun. It's a little bit like an Agatha Christie situation. You don't know. Like, you might think it's going to be grandma, but you know what?

MCEVERS: (Laughter).

GAFFIGAN: It might be your niece. You're like well, wow, you're the crazy one.

MCEVERS: (Laughter).

GAFFIGAN: I mean, (laughter) you know.

MCEVERS: You're the one trying to stab me under the table.

GAFFIGAN: Right, you're mad because I'm not mad enough, you know?

MCEVERS: (Laughter) So just keep eating. Just eat your way through.

GAFFIGAN: Yeah, just keep eating.

MCEVERS: Jim Gaffigan is on his "Fully Dressed" tour now. Thanks so much for coming in.

GAFFIGAN: Thanks. It was fun. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.