Jim Gaffigan is almost entirely an apolitical comedian, that’s what’s refreshing about his comedy. The comic doesn’t remind you about the horrors of the world; he takes your mind off them for an hour of laughs. Gaffigan’s humor rarely ruffles feathers and it’s all innocent, mostly PG-friendly and great stuff. That’s why Twitter and Gaffigan fans were a bit shocked when Gaffigan started tweeting about President Donald Trump during the Republican National Convention.
Gaffigan, who’s from the midwest, a Christian, and a father to five children, did not mince words about how he feels about the current administration and the man at the top. Without question, many of Gaffigan’s fans are Trump supporters. Gaffigan’s comedy, especially politically and socially, isn’t polarizing. It’s just expertly crafted fun and silliness for everyone to consume. Gaffigan mostly publicly stays out of politics, but this year, the comedian doesn’t want to stay silent.
Gaffigan is a famously clean comedian, too. He does not drop F-bombs. During his Twitter thread, however, fans could see Gaffigan telling people off in a tone very uncharacteristic of the comic. At one point, even his wife and co-writer, Jeannie Gaffigan, told him to tone down the language. As Gaffigan later explained on Facebook, “So if I believe I won’t sway any voters, why speak out like I did? Honestly, I feel I had no choice at this point. I think Trump is ruining and possibly has already ruined my country.” Last Thursday night, Gaffigan’s name was trending as the second most popular search on Twitter. Here are a few of Gaffigan’s surprising tweets:
Will any of this effect Gaffigan’s career? It doesn’t matter to Gaffigan. He’ll maybe lose a few fans, but he’s wildly popular and beloved anyway. In his own words, the comedian hopes he can change a few minds, but if not, at least he exercised his right to freedom of speech, most likely knowing threats and insults would be made:
“To be clear upfront I don’t think anyone is going to let an actor or a comedian tell them who to vote for despite the fact that the current President is essentially both and actor and a comedian. However, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I want to change some minds. Of course I do, I feel strongly about what is going in our country.”
Gaffigan received both signs of support and threats from social media users following the Twitter thread. As a horrifying example, one person told Gaffigan, “Unsubscribed – you’ll be looking over your shoulder for the rest of your life. Enjoy.” Gaffigan confirmed “many messages I received that are quasi threatening or flat out threatening.”
Gaffigan Empathizes Too
Gaffigan didn’t personally attack Trump supporters unless provoked. Even in his Facebook post to give more context to his tweets, Gaffigan expressed empathy for some of the president’s followers. Having grown up in the midwest, the comedian is in touch with people beyond coastal states:
I also believe many of the people who support Trump are good, decent people that have been fed lies and misinformation (yes, from Fox News and conspiracy theorists)…. Having grown up in a small town in the Midwest and having traveled the around the country for last 20 years I know there are people that really don’t like Trump but they do like what Trump is selling. Like many of these people I do feel the “flyover states” are condescended to by the coastal folks. These people own or work for a small business destroyed by Covid. They have friends and siblings that are police officers and youth ministers. They believe in equality and truly care about their neighbor.
These people know Trump is a con man but in the end they simply want what is best for the their community and the people they love. Nobody wants anarchy. I realized Thursday night if these people were frightened enough by Trump and the GOP lies, they would pinch their nose and vote for Trump. Maybe by stepping out of my presumed lane I could help inspire them to do what they already know is right and consider what they are actually voting for rather than feel they had no other choice than to vote for Trump. Did I make a difference? I don’t know.