Dad Is Fatby Published 07 May 2013
|Dad Is Fat.pdf|
In Dad is Fat, stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan, who’s best known for his legendary riffs on Hot Pockets, bacon, manatees, and McDonald's, expresses all the joys and horrors of life with five young children - everything from cousins ("celebrities for little kids") to toddlers’ communication skills (“they always sound like they have traveled by horseback for hours to deliver important news”), to the eating habits of four year olds (“there is no difference between a four year old eating a taco and throwing a taco on the floor”).
Reminiscent of Bill Cosby’s Fatherhood, Dad is Fat is sharply observed, explosively funny, and a cry for help from a man who has realized he and his wife are outnumbered in their own home.
"Dad Is Fat" Reviews
Hmm, where to come down on this book.
Jim Gaffigan is a really funny stand-up, and he doesn't sound like anybody else. Okay, he talks about food all the time, but who cares? His newish special, Mr. Universe, is on Netflix, and I can't recommend it enough.
The book is readable for the childless. Like myself. And there are still some laughs. Unlike a lot of parenting-type books, Gaffigan doesn't present his kids as unassailable. He makes fun of them. In a kind way, but still. And though he questions himself, anyone who spends this much time observing and doing things for his kids must be doing at least a decent job. I think if you take your kids to the park, you can probably make fun of them in a book for being dumb when they are first born.
The book is mostly centered around the decision to have 5 kids and raise them in Manhattan, and the only piece that comes off kind of defensive is one where Gaffigan expresses that he's tired of people asking if he and his wife are done having kids as this is a private matter. A fact with which I take umbrage.
To really solidify some feelings, I thought I would present the opposite perspective, a non-famous guy who lives in pretty much the opposite of Manhattan, unmarried, no kids, and skin that can tan. So here are some of the things brought up in the book and just what I think of them, in general:
Home Births: Weird. But whatever. It's your house. Just don't tell me I'm sitting in the exact spot where the placenta "splashed down" because I really don't know how to react to that information. I don't tell people how often I urinate in the sink. And also please don't explain to me how this is less distressful for the baby. This is like you explaining to me what makes a caterpillar happy. You can't possibly know, nor are we even certain that a caterpillar is capable of being happy.
Raising Kids in the City: I come off like a big fat harrumph here, but I'm a little opposed to this idea in general. Because where do the rest of us get to go and have grown-up fun? I like that some things are for grown-ups. There was a time when families moved to the suburbs. And look what you made there. It sucks. You should all have to fix the suburbs before you're allowed back.
Family Bed: A friend introduced me to this concept years ago. Basically, everyone is welcome to sleep in the same bed. Kids and parents. Dog piled. Maybe with a dog if that's a family member, I guess. I'm less opposed to the idea of everyone sleeping in the same bed because of some kind of family values situation and more opposed to it because of the value of sleep. I've woken up in a pile of small strangers before, and this is not an experience I care to replicate.
Let Me Tell You About How UH-MAZING My Spouse Is: Well, why? Are you trying to set me up with your wife? Am I supposed to agree with you and then take on a campaign of wooing your wife away from you now that I've seen the light? I just don't get it. A lot of people spend a lot of time online letting the rest of us know how much they appreciate their spouses. But not in super-specific ways. Just with words like "wonderful." How about you just tell your spouse about it? Or buy a thesaurus? And "Amazing" will be in the A's as opposed to the Uh's.
Having 5 Children: Yeah, I have to say that I'm opposed to this. I know it's sort of a personal choice. But it's sort of not. Let's put it this way: As selfish as it is for me to want to be first in line at the Donut shop every time I go, it is equally selfish for parents to create a large number of humans who will be in front of me at the Donut shop. I'm not saying that I'm right to want to be first. I think we can all agree that this is selfish. I'm just trying to make the point that having a large number of kids and saying that this has no effect on the larger world is just patently false.
Gaffigan made a point about how each of his children has made him happier, but I think that there is no way to really know if you would have been equally happy with fewer children as the same amount of time passed. Maybe it's baby number five, but maybe it's three babies combined with career milestones and a strong marriage.
I also think that Gaffigan is a rare person who makes enough money to adequately provide for such a large family and also seems committed to spending a lot of time with them. So maybe it's the right number for him. But I think that people should take a more carefully examined look at the right number for them, because for many a person 5 is too many. 1 is too many.
Citing overpopulation and all that is somewhat crazy, so I won't go there. But I think we can all agree that the world is not under-populated. Humans, so much about us is biologically designed to pass on our genes through children. To create as many children as possible. To have sex and create life. This is some very old mojo and accounts for SO much human behavior (the way people try to impress each other, the way people act at bars, the acoustic guitar, "baby fever"). That said, I think what makes a person a person is the ability to recognize those mandates set by outdated biology and to deny them.
For the most part, we DO make strides to get away from those sorts of things. This is why we have things like equal rights. I can't not hire a guy missing a leg because he's missing a leg, even though there's a reptilian part of my brain telling me that this person is an imperfect biological specimen. Diet. Exercise. Medication. We do a lot of stuff to deny those things that are lodged in our brains, or to hold them off until evolution catches up.
But babies, babies are the one thing that we still categorize as magical, and if you were to criticize someone having a baby you would look like a complete shit.
It sounds like a conspiracy nut typing, but procreation is so caught up in the whirlwind mixture of biology, economy, and religion that it's inexorable.
There will never be a day in human history where we can look at ourselves and ask, "Is it necessary to have children and why?"
I know, you're thinking I'm a lonely depressed loser by now. Which I totally am. But nonetheless, I think that if you can't honestly ask the question about the larger impact of humanity, what the universe would be short of if humanity were to decrease into non-existence, then I have to think that you're a person driven by biology, religion, or economy in a way that's harmful. You have to be able to ask the question, at the very least.
I really and truly believe that what makes us human is the ability to recognize and deny those forces now and then. Okay, not always. Sometimes I would really like to drive a rad car. And nobody wants to hang out with a complete nihilist. Believe me, if I'm 3 beers in the last thing I want to talk about is how religion has shaped the western economy.
But if I'm 3 beers in, I MIGHT be just about ready to ask you what the hell the point of 5 kids could possibly be.
This book may not appeal to everyone, but if you have kids, it should appeal to you!
Gaffigan says what every parent is thinking, but is afraid to say out loud. As a parent of a two year old and a five year old, not only did it feel like he was speaking directly to me, I wondered if he was following me around and taking notes - 95% of this book happens to me almost daily!
I did hear that some people didn’t care for it and there are a few reasons I think this might be:
• Gaffigan is very goofy and sarcastic. If you do not like this sort of thing, you may not like this. If you do, come on in and stay a while!
• Even if you do like goofy sarcasm, it may get a bit too much. Most stand up acts are 60 minutes at most. This book will take 3 to 5 hours to read. You may need to pace yourself to avoid getting tired of it.
• For this particular book, if you are not a parent or have no experience with kids, it may not be your thing. Try Food: A Love Story instead. But, if you don’t like food either, I’ve got nothing for you.
• Gaffigan prides himself on avoiding raunch in his comedy. Not that he is a goody two shoes, or if you enjoy raunchy comedy I am calling you a filthy pervert, but I can see how some may want a little more edge to their comedy than you will get with Gaffigan.
My final note as someone who has only been a father for a few years: I read many parenting guides. Many of them were very helpful. But, now that I have read this, Dad Is Fat may have been all that I needed!
Did you know Jim Gaffigan has five kids? He has five kids. Five kids. He must be crazy. Wow five kids. Wow in a tiny NYC apartment. Did you know that you don't sleep much when you have five kids? Did you know it is hard to go anywhere with five kids? Wow he must be crazy or something to have five kids. Did he mention he has five kids?
If you made it through that then you should thank me because I basically just gave you the experience and gist of reading this book but saved you the trouble of actually reading it. You're welcome.
I listened to the audiobook and everything about this was excellent! :D
It's simple: If you like Jim Gaffigan's work, you'll like this book -- especially if you get the audio version, because he reads it himself.
If you aren't familiar with his comedy, please stop living such a needlessly sad life and check out one of his albums. I recommend "King Baby" (an escalator that's not working "is like having a dead butler") and "Mr. Universe" ("If you want to know what it's like to have a fourth kid, just imagine you're drowning, and then someone hands you a baby"). Actually, all his albums are good; I just like these best.
So check out his comedy, and then read his book. (Or listen to it.) Or read his book, and like it enough to want to listen to his comedy. I'm not the boss of you. Unless I am, in which case I order you to read his book and listen to his comedy. At the same time. Just to really mess with your head.
But I digress. What I enjoyed most about this book was that, yes, okay, it's yet another parenting book about how holy CRAP is this parenting gig tough; but it's way funnier than most. And Gaffigan never once acts as if children have been foisted on him. (I hate it when men do that.) He has admitted in interviews that if he's on the road, the first day alone is kind of nice, but after that he really misses his family. He talks in this book about how and why he travels a lot with them.
And I love how cognizant he is of how hard he lucked out in marrying Emmy-nominated Jeannie Noth. She's his producer, co-writer, partner, and -- well, love of his life doesn't seem to go far enough. Also, she's a babe. Yes, after hearing so much glowing praise, I checked. Thank you, nosy Internet. Gaffigan manages to pretty much worship her in print without ever getting sticky or mawkish. Three cheers for a male comic who doesn't feel obligated to sneer at his spouse and marriage in general.
(Maybe we're finally trending that way. Paul F. Tompkins and Patton Oswalt are similarly tender, and Louis CK was respectfully affectionate and wistful toward his wife on every one of his albums even during and after their breakup. So there's hope.)
Back to Gaffigan. As he points out, it's very unusual to have five children these days; so even parents will find novelty in this story of juggling a large family of very close-in-age offspring. Non-parents should read this for the same reason they wanted to go the circus when they were kids: it's fun to ooh and aah at a spectacle that's nothing like what you think of as real life.
I've posted a bunch of quotes from the book if you want to get a sense of what this book reads like. I would have posted more, but I was usually doing the dishes while I listened.