If you haven't watched Late Night with Conan O'Brien lately, you might not know that comedian Jim Gaffigan and his brother-in-law, cartoonist Paul Noth, have created a bit of a following with their Pale Force shorts. In fact, the animated adventures of Gaffigan as a pallid superhero and O'Brien as his whining sidekick so impressed NBC that they ordered 20 episodes to air on Late Night before being made downloadable by cell phone on the Peacock's website. TVGuide.com spoke with Gaffigan about the colorless crime fighters as well as his role on the new TBS comedy My Boys.
TVGuide.com: Is pale just a skin tone, or is it a state of mind?
Jim Gaffigan: The whole pale thing is really weird. It's something that I've always dreaded. When June comes rolling around, everyone's always like, "Great, I can wear shorts!" I'm like, "Do I have to get out of this turtleneck?"
TVGuide.com: So your fear of shorts inspired Pale Force?
Gaffigan: Indirectly, yes. But what's really fascinating is how people have responded to the whole Pale Force thing. At my stand-up shows, all of a sudden there have been these pockets of unique pale groups, whether it's Goth kids or Ashkenazi conservative Jews or old Irish Catholic ladies.
TVGuide.com: Those are your comic groupies now?
Gaffigan: Yeah. Basically, anyone in the pale spectrum is starting to show up. As pale people, we've come together as not being the generic "tall, dark and handsome."
TVGuide.com: Besides empowering the pale, it seems like the main purpose of Pale Force is to emasculate Conan O'Brien.
Gaffigan: Very much so. That's what's so fun — it works on this other level. When I appear on the show, I present them as if I'm doing Conan a favor and that I'm unaware that this could be offensive to him. He is such a good sport about it, and it fits in with the tone of his show.
TVGuide.com: So Conan has been generally supportive of his pathetic animated presentation?
Gaffigan: Yeah. The most important thing is that it always makes him laugh.
TVGuide.com: NBC is promoting Pale Force as cell-phone downloadable. What’s that been like?
Gaffigan: It's an incredible opportunity. The NBC website has a whole page for it, and they've got this whole campaign behind it, but basically they've just let us do our thing. There's no bureaucracy. Paul and I are in charge of it, but we always just sit there with my wife and Patrick [Noth], who does all the music, and we just hang out for an hour a week and think of funny ideas. What comes from that is basically the final product.
TVGuide.com: Can you let us in on any upcoming Pale Force adventures?
Gaffigan: Well, we just recorded the Christmas episode, which I think will be really funny, with the whole pale-Christmas idea. Wherever there's a white theme, we can go there. It is one of those things where we're having fun doing it. It's a lot of work, but compared to auditioning to be Matthew McConaughey's semiretarded buddy in a movie, it's great to do something like this.
TVGuide.com: How was your experience as part of the cast of TBS' My Boys [premiering Tuesday, Nov. 28, at 10 pm/ET]?
Gaffigan: What was really interesting about My Boys was that it's an ensemble piece that's single-camera, which I prefer because you feel like you're acting. With four-camera, one of the lead characters enters the room and there's a five-minute applause break. I had so much fun doing a recurring role on Ed and some indie films, and you feel like you're in more of a scene when it's single-camera. I know that sounds different from what a stand-up comedian is expected to say.
TVGuide.com: Not necessarily. There are a lot of stand-ups who look to test their acting chops.
Gaffigan: Yeah, but it's interesting — I have played the really dumb guy so many times, and I didn't want the character I play in My Boys to come across as the dumb victim. Sure, his wife is pretty hard on him, but he's more realistic and less naive than some of the characters I've played.
TVGuide.com: Now that My Boys is wrapped, will you be getting out on the road to do a stand-up tour anytime soon?
Gaffigan: Yeah, I'll be starting my big tour on Jan. 19 in Baltimore. It'll be 30 cities, one of those Comedy Central live things. It's great to have their backing, because they have a monopoly on the comedy world. They're the one bar in town, so when they offered me a free beer, I was like, "All right!"
Read Matt Roush's review of My Boys in the Nov. 27 issue of TV Guide, featuring Fox's Bones on the cover.
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