Jim Gaffigan Got His Comedy Start at Ogilvy & Mather

Comedian chats with Live Happy magazine about his blessed current life

Headshot of Richard Horgan

In both stand-up comedy and magazine feature-article writing, it’s wise to rely on a potent set-up. For the cover story of the July issue of Live Happy magazine, author Shelley Levitt stays true to her end of the bargain.

Levitt’s piece begins as follows:

In the mid-’90s, a young copywriter working at Ogilvy & Mather, the giant New York City advertising agency, suffered from a fear of public speaking so acute it was causing alarm among his colleagues. He had been the class clown back home in rural Indiana. But now, called upon to voice an opinion in meetings or to give a presentation, his pale skin would turn bright red and he’d stammer, tremble and sweat, appearing to be in the full throes of a panic attack.

A colleague suggested that taking an improv comedy workshop might help him manage his anxiety. He followed that advice and felt so in his element
trading quips he went on to enroll in a seminar in stand-up comedy. For the final class, each student performed a stand-up set. Those few minutes
changed his life.

From there, Levitt delineates how that nervous copywriter, Jim Gaffigan, developed his stand-up comedy craft, met his wife and forged an enviable live-work balance, choosing to end a recent Netflix series in favor of a routine that allows the couple to spend more time with their five young children. When Gaffigan’s Noble Ape comedy tour heads to Australia and New Zealand late this summer, all five kids will be in tow, then and throughout the rest of the 10-month international swing.

The article went to print before some sadder news involving the Gaffigan household was revealed. Levitt, a Los Angeles-based editor at large for Live Happy, previously worked for People and Self.

The July issue of Live Happy, which is published bi-monthly, hits newsstands May 23.

@hollywoodspin rhorgan@gmail.com Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.