The Roush Review: The Jim Gaffigan Show and Impastor Serve Up Snark With a Smile

Matt Roush
TV Land

Watching TV Land evolve its comedy brand from retro to “uh-oh”—as in, did they just go there?—has been anything but a sobering experience. The delightfully dizzy, and at times surprisingly raunchy, Younger set the tone earlier this year, and two new snark-heavy romps sustain the madcap pace nicely. Or not so nicely.

The Jim Gaffigan Show, originally developed for CBS, is like a lighter (though perhaps physically weightier) Louie in which the stand-up/late-night vet portrays himself as an overwhelmed family man with five rug rats, a “Shiite Catholic” wife (charming Ashley Williams) and an obsession with junk food. Described by a friend’s dad as “a walking recessive gene,” he’s a human Homer: lazing on the couch, scarfing his kids’ Fudgsicles, skipping church and dodging hecklers at home and on stage. As this glutton for self-punishment bumbles through bizarre misadventures, celebrity cameos by the likes of Chris Rock and Jon Stewart remind us that Gaffigan is more a player than a loser. His show’s definitely a winner.

Impastor

In one of the more inspired episodes, Gaffigan is “outed as a Christian” when seen in public with his wife’s giant Bible. And yet this irreverent scenario pales when compared to the OMG antics of Impastor, a naughty farce about con man Buddy Dobbs (Smallville’s raffish Michael Rosenbaum), who takes over the identity of a gay preacher hired sight unseen by a quaint town’s Lutheran church. (The good Samaritan perished trying to save Buddy’s suicidal soul. It’s like a biblical Banshee.)

Smoking weed, fending off advances from church staff of both sexes, learning scripture from flash cards, Buddy is the unrepentant antihero of a cheerfully improbable comedy that includes fine support from Sara Rue as his adoringly naïve assistant and David Rasche as the skeptical church president, who responds to Buddy’s “cheap carnival preacher” showmanship by calling it “tomfoolery of the highest order.” This summer, that somehow feels heaven sent.

Gaffigan 4 stars | Impastor 3. 5 stars

 The Jim Gaffigan Show, Series premiere, Wednesday, July 15, 10/9c, TV Land

 Impastor, Series premiere, Wednesday, July 15, 10:30/9:30c, TV Land

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