Jim Gaffigan, Jenny Slate & Tig Notaro Talk Parenthood & The Best And Worst Things About Being A Comedian Today

Jim Gaffigan, Jenny Slate & Tig Notaro Talk Parenthood & The Best And Worst Things About Being A Comedian Today

For Jenny Slate, there’s much to love about working as a stand-up comic today.

“We have the opportunity to be really thoughtful about saying something deeply important about our own personal development, about the world at large, about current events, about censorship in art, about what is the current vernacular in art,” the comedian says.

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Certainly, she acknowledges, “cancel culture is frightening,” and it’s always “scary to be a person with a microphone, [but] it’s also a great privilege. If you’re a performer and you feel that you’re talented, if you pair that talent with thoughtfulness, I think [it’s a] great opportunity to feel fully expressed.”

On Monday night, Slate was at Deadline’s Studio at the Prime Experience to promote her latest special Seasoned Professional, which debuted on Prime Video on February 23. Also appearing for solo interviews were comedians Tig Notaro and Jim Gaffigan, who while discussing their respective Prime Video specials Hello Again and Dark Pale, giving their take on the best and worst of being a modern-day stand-up.

Check out the interviews here and photos from the event below.

“I guess it’s that double-edged sword. There is so much going on and so much opportunity, but then it can feel a little oversaturated. But I don’t know,” Notaro said. “I don’t have any complaints. I started doing stand-up solely because I was obsessed with it … and so from open-mic days to now, it’s really a need to get on stage and a want to just share stories and experiences.”

After joking that when he started in comedy “there were wooden microphones,” Gaffigan reflected on the greater extent to which comedy permeates culture today. While “true comedy nerds” have always existed, he said, we’re at a point now when even each of his own kids has their favorite comedian, and an appreciation of one particular style of performance. The greatest challenge comedians face, from his point of view, is maintaining an “ongoing relationship” with audiences, keeping the dialogue with them interesting  and “continuing to challenge” viewers.

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During their time at the Deadline Studio, Slate, Notaro and Gaffigan also reflected on the influence of their children on their work. Welcoming her first daughter Ida in 2021, after getting pregnant the first night of Covid lockdown — as she discusses in depth in her special — Slate shared that “parenthood has really helped me to feel a deep sense of belonging and a much clearer understanding of myself, and the power of how I can be thoughtful, and what it means for me to participate in love.” When she goes on stage now, she continued, “I still have a lot of doubt, but I think being a parent has helped me to feel a sense of personal belonging that’s made me into a stronger performer.”

Getting married and welcoming twin boys via a surrogate in recent years, Notaro shared that she could now easily do “an entire special” on her family life. “Sometimes I get into my head and think, do people want to hear about this? But I think that’s something I kind of can’t bother myself with too much because it goes back to, you want to be happy on stage first,” the comic said. “Because then the audience will be more interested and amused, hopefully.”

A father of five, Gaffigan told Deadline that his children “force” him do to things he wouldn’t do, which has led to great material. In the Prime Experience panel following the Deadline interviews moderated by comedian Iliza Shlesinger (who recently inked a deal to shoot her own special for Prime Video), Gaffigan shared that he tends not to call his kids out by name in his act, for the sake of their privacy. He observed, at the same time, that “kids would rather hear you talk about them in stand-up then post a photograph of them. If you posted a photograph, that’s crossing a line. But if you make reference to them being misanthropic, they’re like, ‘Yeah, that’s great.’”

Gaffigan might have his gripes with his kids from time to time, he said. But from his perspective, the parents that complain about their kids tend to be the ones that are actively involved. “If parents don’t complain about their kids, then I’m nervous about them,” he told Shlesinger. “Either they’re not there, or they’re on some level of antidepressant I want access to.”

As you’d expect, Gaffigan lobbed out one sharp one-liner after another during the panel, riffing on resembling “Hitler’s wet dream” and the barber who “butchered” his haircut right before his special taping. Slate joked about being “shocked” to realize “how much screaming there is” in her comedy, with Notaro meditating on the “awkward and hilarious” side of the moments in life that are most difficult.

When asked what’s next for him, Gaffigan deadpanned, “I don’t know if this is the appropriate place, but I’m going to be Donald Trump’s running mate.” Currently filming the limited series Dying for Sex with Michelle Williams, Slate also has her second book, Life Form, coming out this fall.

“You’re making this up right now?” Notaro asked her of the title.

In addition to mentioning that she has a few TV parts coming up, as well as the long-awaited release of her Sundance movie Am I Okay?, Notaro joked, “I’m editing [Jenny’s] book. We haven’t settled on a title.”

For more Deadline Studio at Prime Experience content, click here.

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