Jim Gaffigan 

Jim Gaffigan follows just about every joke with a whispered self-criticism: "That guy's a dick." "He lost me with that one." Parodying listeners' potential reactions renders the whole process transparent--he challenges audiences to consider not only what his jokes mean about him but what their resistance to his libidinal humor says about them, vocalizing the battle between id and superego. As efficient as Seinfeld and as fixated on the mundane as Larry David, Gaffigan (who was born in Barrington and grew up in Indiana) looks decidedly nonmanic. Yet his stories have a surreal edge--he talks about stealing wheelchairs and respirators, drinking gravy, and hiding under the neighbors' bed while they're having sex. The eight-year-old Gaffigan approaches his sister, who's announcing the family's zodiac signs: "What am I? You're Cancer. Oh no, I killed grandma!...What's my symbol? Crabs. Oh no, I killed grandpa!" His comedy is like a scary carnival ride--your stomach's turning, but you don't want it to end. Probably best known these days for his late-night-TV guest spots, though he's played numerous TV and movie roles, Gaffigan taped a one-hour special at the Vic in early October that airs January 29 on Comedy Central. Thu 12/29, 7:30 PM, Zanies, 1548 N. Wells, 312-337-4027, $25. Fri 12/30, 8 and 10 PM, Zanies, Pheasant Run Resort, 4051 E. Main, Saint Charles, 630-513-1761, $30. Sat 12/31, 7 and 10 PM, Zanies, 230 Hawthorn Village Commons, Vernon Hills, 847-549-6030, $40 for the early show, $50 for the late one. Two-drink minimum for all shows.

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