[For The Jim Gaffigan Show‘s “My Friend the Priest” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]
My Friend the Priest. When Jim is finally invited to do “The Tonight Show,” Jeannie invites Father Nicholas.
Jim finds out he’s finally booked his dream gig on Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show and immediately tells his best buddy, Dave who tries to place what show that is.
“Struggling a bit, right?” says Dave after pretending not to know who’s been hosting it lately. “Huge among every demographic except my bitter friends,” Jim replies. As Gaffigan leaves disgruntled Dave behind on the sidewalk he spies Father Nicholas nearby and crosses the street to avoid him. Unfortunately Father Nicholas also has crossing the street privileges and he really wants to talk to Jim. Then it turns out he’s coming to dinner – oh joy.
“I’m not interested in a bromance with a member of the clergy,” Jim attempts to explain to baffled Jeannie after she’s just gone on about how normal and everyday a person Father Nicholas is. We’ve all been in this boat where we just don’t click with the the other guy in there but he’s got the steering wheel and access to all the life preservers… such a fun day at sea. And for Jim, it’s truly a never ending showboat of an episode.
Next thing Jim knows “weird” Father Nicholas tags along to his gig that night and his mere priestly presence shuts the laughs down. All comics seem to agree that priests are audience poison. It’s apparently a universal truth – a Platonic ideal, if you will, of toxic comedy sets. So, inevitably, Jim gets the dreaded news the next day just as he’s leaving for the dream gig. Father Nicholas will be joining him on set at “The Tonight Show” and there’s nothing Jim can do about it.
Father Nicholas glows with a beaming naive sincerity through the halls of NBC. He grins and introduces himself to everyone as “famous comedian, Jim Gaffigan’s priest” then makes so many friends that by showtime he’s playing tambourine with the Roots. Father Nicholas ends up playing ping pong with Julianne Moore and the seemingly ever-present-on-The-Jim-Gaffigan-Show-these-days Macaulay Culkin. Jimmy and the audience adore having him on the show so much that Father Nicholas ends up bumping the last guest. Yes, that’s Jim, watching it all from his sad sack green room with his resident sidekick, Bitter Dave. The episode ends on Macaulay Culkin asking Father Nicholas who Jim Gaffigan is – indeed.
Kudos to The Jim Gaffigan Show’s Tongayi Chirisa. The actor playing Father Nicholas nails his character’s awkward sincerity so perfectly that he doesn’t just steal “The Tonight Show” from Jim… Chirisa slips in lines with comedic ease, like when Dave and Jim are fighting bombastic and he gleefully says, “You comedians are so funny all the time. It is very enjoyable!” He maintains a stilted manner that serves his character while remaining completely real and believable in sincere emotional moments like when he thanks Jim for bringing him to Jimmy Fallon and, for just one fleeting flicker of a moment, touches the Gaffigan heart buried deep beneath all those food jokes.