This new stand-up special proves Amazon a viable competitor in the comedy world and Gaffigan the same likable everyman observational comic.
You know what to expect from a Jim Gaffigan stand-up special — except, perhaps, where it will air. This new one, Jim Gaffigan: Quality Time, is exclusive to Amazon Prime, the platform’s first original special. That’s kind of a big deal.
While Amazon has quietly gone about developing its own popular content to rival that of streaming giant Netflix — the recent The Boys proving to be a major hit — the Big Red N continues to casually dominate the world of stand-up comedy. Quality Time is proof they don’t have the market monopolized quite yet, and in his defection from Netflix for his sixth special and his emergence as the first-ever Amazon Original comic here in his seventh, Gaffigan has re-established himself as a beacon of go-your-own-way rebel spirit — a strain of counter-cultural revolution that was once integral to comedy and perhaps might be again if the parameters of what we’re allowed to laugh at get any more draconian.
Not that Gaffigan is a taboo-buster in his act. His brand of everyman observational comedy is, by design, agreeable; every joke a placating “Yeah, I know” in response to imagined questions of his lovable on-stage persona. That’s the point. He’s the baggy reflection of most of Midwestern America, his success always offset by his self-deprecation, which never feels put-on. Jim Gaffigan: Quality Time, directed and co-written by Jeannie Gaffigan, who in 2017 almost died of a brain tumour, seems designed to reassure long-time fans of the comic that no matter how far Amazon reached into their unknowably deep pockets to secure his exclusivity, nothing about him has been compromised as a result.
With that in mind, this isn’t a special designed to earn new fans. But this, as mentioned, is Gaffigan’s seventh special — he doesn’t need anymore. Some want their comedy to push moral boundaries, which Gaffigan’s never has, and those people will continue not to like him. Others want their comedy wholesome and welcoming, which Gaffigan’s has always been, and those people will continue to enjoy his work. This Quality Time is being spent with them.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.