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Salt Lake City feels sort of friendly and familiar to Jim Gaffigan. Although that's not the reason he's commuting here for a couple of weeks.
Gaffigan is bringing his "Fully Dressed" comedy tour to the Vivint Smart Home Arena on consecutive Fridays Dec. 2 and 9. Which was not the original plan.
"It was definitely not by design," Gaffigan said. "The first show sold so well that they came back to me with this, and I was, like, 'Yeah, all right. That sounds great.' It might have been availability of the venue, but I was excited."
As a matter of fact, there's a Jazz game at Vivint on Dec. 3. And Gaffigan only performs on weekends he's got a wife and five kids back home so Dec. 9 was the next available date.
He's eager to return to Salt Lake City.
"There are certain cities where I feel like I'm going to have a good time and I'm going to walk away with some new material," Gaffigan said. "I feel like there's some environments where you do standup where it's a conversation. It's the difference between telling a story to a friend or a stranger. When you tell a story to a friend it's probably going to be longer and you're going to come up with a funny bit or two. You're on the same wavelength. And I feel like when I've been in Salt Lake, there's been kind of that level of communication."
He recalled performing here once when LDS General Conference was in session "and just riffing on that. I mean, half the audience probably wasn't even Mormon or former Mormon, but it's just kind of like it's an environment where your material can expand.
"I've even joked that I look like a Mormon. And, obviously, I know that Salt Lake is not all Mormon. But there's just something about it."
Gaffigan and Utah seem a perfect fit. His act is not filled with profanity indeed, he's been declared the "King of Clean" by the Wall Street Journal and his fans range from kids not old enough to drive to adults old enough to collect Social Security.
"I feel like that's where I got lucky, honestly," he said. "That's not like a design or a calculation the fact that my currency is not shock. My currency is surprise and observation."
He's not critical of comedians whose language and material are not appropriate for the family. But Gaffigan believes that's a harder way to get laughs … even though so many comics go that route.
"Shock and irreverence that's a fluid thing," he said.
"What was irreverent for Bill Hicks [who died in 1994] is not irreverent today. So if you deal in irreverence, that's always moving. Whereas if you deal in observation or in storytelling, it's always relevant."
That does not mean he expects to come into Salt Lake City and coast. "There's a higher expectation" among his fans now, he said, than when he was a young comic starting out.
Those who attend his performances at Vivint Arena are "going to know my sensibility. My sense of humor. They're not going to know my material. They might know Hot Pockets. I'll do that, but the rest of it'll be new."
But it won't be like trying out new material when he's home in New York City.
"They might applaud when I go on, but a third of them might not even speak English," Gaffigan said. "A third of them might not like my comedy.
"And that's the difference between telling a funny story to a friend versus a stranger. You're going to be funnier with your friends. They're more comfortable. You're more comfortable. You're going to have a better time."
Jim Gaffigan: Fully Dressed
When • Friday, Dec. 2, and Friday, Dec. 9, at 8 p.m.
Where • Vivint Smart Home Arena, 301 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City
Tickets • $36.75-$56.75, available at the box office; at vivintarena.com; at smithstix.com; or at all Smith's Tix locations.