As the big, bawdy bard of Middle America, comedian Jim Gaffigan sings the praises of fatty foods, greasy foods, and sugary foods with love and flair; plus, he finds the state of laziness as something to embrace in the same way a motivational speaker embraces success. "I don't know if you can tell by my beard, but I'm fat" he admits during the opening of his 2014 release Obsessed, a show that borrows a bit from his 2013 book Dad Is Fat, including insights like "I don't know what happened. All I did was eat constantly, and now I'm fat." Sure, all this goofing on gluttony makes for a narrow set that no nutritionist should ever have to endure, but those who love the comedian know that an artery clogging diet has long been his muse, ever since his hilarious "Hot Pockets" routine hit the comedy scene hard, and would up his "Freebird" to his "Stairway to Heaven." Here, "Fried Bread" ("You ever eat food in your car so you don't have to share with your children? You're ready for fried bread.") is a worthy almost-equal-to-"Hot Pockets," with the rest of the gastric laughs coming from foods he hates. This includes crab ("Hey, I found a rock with some snot in it. I'm thinking of eating it!"), kale ("That stuff tastes like bug spray"), and that salty stuff in the tin that dad used to eat ("What exactly is the difference between an anchovy and a sweaty eyebrow?"), but after so many years, even guitar god Eddie Van Halen added keyboards to the mix, so don't be too shocked when Gaffigan flips the script, and wins. The weird world of weddings ("Last wedding I was at, everyone got a wine stopper filled with sand because the theme of the wedding was 'waste'") and their registries ("A nice way of saying 'You don't have to get us anything, but if you do, make sure it is one of these things'") are hilarious fodder, while solid social criticism comes under his command with the great "The Black Hills of South Dakota are sacred to the Lakota Indians, and out of respect, our government carved four white guys into one of the mountains." Add it all up, and it's as if Gaffigan's career was following the same blueprint as the punk rock group Green Day, coming out of the gate with a roar and then evolving into something bigger while losing none of that initial strength. Think of his 2006 album Beyond the Pale as his Dookie since it's got that new artist energy and the big "Hot Pockets" hit, then think of Obsessed as his mature and massive American Idiot, and hope that Broadway gets to work on an adaptation.
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AllMusic Review by David Jeffries