Jim Gaffigan: Dark Pale Review – A special full of death and diarrhea jokes

By Ricky Valero
Published: July 26, 2023 (Last updated: October 3, 2023)
Jim Gaffigan: Dark Pale Review - A special full of death and diarrhea jokes


Jim Gaffigan: Dark Pale isn’t perfect, but Gaffigan delivers some incredibly funny dark humor to keep us laughing.

This review of the Prime Video film Jim Gaffigan: Dark Pale does not contain spoilers.

Jim Gaffigan broke into the comedy world in 1999 after an appearance on The Late Show with David LettermanThe comedian has spent time writing on several shows, including the animated short series Pale Force which appeared on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. Gaffigan returns to the stage on Prime Video for his 10th stand-up comedy special titled Jim Gaffigan: Dark Pale

Jim Gaffigan: Dark Pale review and plot summary

Jim Gaffigan: Dark Pale follows Gaffigan telling jokes about the emotional landscape post-COVID, going to funerals, and making fun of Starbucks.

Gaffigan hits the stage with a mask on, followed by a bit about him taking it off and unbuttoning his shirt. He jokes that he only has the mask on because he has COVID and asks the audience who got the virus.

Look, some of the jokes landed here, but most felt like something we’ve heard a billion times before with other comedians. It was quite an underwhelming opening to the special.

Gaffigan did something in this special that comedians rarely do this far along in their career — reinventing himself. Of course, most people know Gaffigan for his funny jokes about Hot Pockets or McDonald’s, but he veered more into a darker tone that we hadn’t seen from him in Dark Pale. Funnily enough, in the middle of one of his bits, Gaffigan said, “This is when people usually ask when he is going to do the food jokes.” While the food jokes were there, including a funny bit about Starbucks, his tackling the darker side of things was fun to watch.

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Another thing Gaffigan did on the stage that we rarely see from him is his turn into a more storytelling aspect. It’s not something he hasn’t done, but this was geared more toward the style, and he pulled it off incredibly well. He also had some callback to jokes from earlier in the special, which was a home run.

Is Jim Gaffigan: Dark Pale good or bad?

Throughout the special, some of the material was hit-and-miss. Gaffigan seemed to throw things at the wall to see what would or wouldn’t stick, and some of it lacked that punchline to deliver the best joke.

However, this new version of Gaffigan is a delight in a space where comedians continue to push the boundaries like never before, which was refreshing. While not great, it’s still a very good comedy special.

Is Jim Gaffigan: Dark Pale worth watching?

Outside the rough opening, Gaffigan spends an hour showing this dark side of himself, making Dark Pale an easy recommendation.

I don’t think that this is Gaffigan’s best work, but I do believe that if he continues to toy with riding the line of this dark humor, his best is yet to come. It was refreshing to see someone of his stature willing to take the stage and take this risk with his 10th stand-up special.

What did you think of Jim Gaffigan: Dark Pale? Comment below.

You can watch this film with a subscription to Prime Video.

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