Sunday, May 4, 2014

Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

Why I Read It: Gift from a friend, a fellow sufferer.

Summary: Thoughts on parenting from a dad of 5.

My Thoughts: I guess I only have two immediate references on which to base my thoughts on this book. The first is Michael Lewis' Home Game, which I ultimately was somewhat distanced from. I just couldn't relate to the fact that when he and his wife wanted to do something different with the kids they picked up and moved to Paris (among other things; he generally outspent my life, making it hard for me to relate, though I will say that his thoughts on his experiences in trying to be a writer while raising young kids were spot on. I think about that more every day). The second reference I have is my own life.

Gaffigan has more kids than me, so what he has is multiplied in comparison to the insanity of the household I currently co-run. A friend once explained to me that the first five or six years of your children's lives you just try to make sure they don't do something so stupid that they will kill themselves. And he was right. In order to accomplish this feat, my wife and I have to resort to "divide and conquer" techniques; she takes one one way, I take one another, and we indulge each child in separate passions. That way no one child is teetering on the edge of the stairs or running full speed into the other to bonk heads. Gaffigan and his wife Jeannie have no such chance, especially living in a two-bedroom apartment in New York City.

Gaffigan and I share one more thing in common, too, in that we work at night. He's a stand-up comedian, and I stand up in front of crowds and lecture on history and nature, typically about once a week. His circuit is a bit bigger than mine, like the whole United States compared to my eastern Massachusetts, but the result is the same. I miss bedtime once, and I hear about it, many times from the kids themselves the next day. There's a bit of guilt that goes with being away for even a night, but if one wants any semblance of a career through the madness of the early years, sacrifices are made and guilt becomes a normal part of life. Besides, mommy and daddy do occasionally require the conversation of other adults. My wife's soccer games are her outlet.

The author tackles all the fun topics of youth: candy, children's books, where to take the kids when they're restless, school, vacationing (the stories I have from the White Mountains...sheesh!), and more.

While a book on parenting is not original, Gaffigan is a funny man, and subtly so. He's a self-professed clean comedian, never needing to resort to foul language or bathroom humor to get a laugh, and as such, his work is relatable to many of us out here toiling - lovingly - through our children's early years.


  1. I was first introduced to Gaffigan through the TV show My Boys. At the time, I had no idea he was a stand up comedian. I came across his stand-up routine sometime last year. I must have seen a promo for the book. It looks like it would be fun to read, but I am not sure I will spend the money on it. (Sorry, Jim). I'll have to keep my eye out at book sales - and watch his YouTube vidoes.


  2. "My Boys"! That's where I first saw him. He doesn't get into his career specifics in the book, so I kept wondering where it was I saw him. I even IMDB'd him, but didn't come up with much I could remember.

    Very fun read, if you've gone through having young kids, as I know you have.