Linoleum movie star Jim Gaffigan knows a little something about comedy. He also knows when not to use it.
“There is comedy in every situation, but it’s more important for the comedy to serve a larger point,” the standup comedian and actor tells MovieMaker. “It’s an aspect of the situation, but it’s not a dominant point. I’ve done some comedy stuff, and I love comedy — I make most of my money doing comedy — but when you’re acting and it’s mostly comedy, that holds greater weight than story or character development. And that’s not as fulfilling. “
What is Jim Gaffigan’s Linoleum movie about?
In writer-director Colin West’s Linoleum, Gaffigan plays Cameron Edwin, an aspiring astronaut who makes a public access children’s television show about the wonders of science. But Gaffigan also plays Cameron’s arch-nemesis: a younger, better-looking, and more successful version of him named Kent Armstrong.
In the hopes of finally doing something great with his life, Cameron decides to build a rocket and try to fly to space. Rhea Seehorn plays Cameron’s skeptical wife Erin; Katelyn Nacon plays his daughter, Nora, and Gabriel Rush plays Kent Armstrong’s son and Nora’s new best friend, Marc. Roger Hendricks Simon plays Cameron’s elderly father, Mac, who suffers from dementia.
The wackier aspects of Linoleum, like cars and rocketships falling out of the sky, lent themselves to Gaffigan’s comedic chops — but there are far more somber and serious moments in Linoleum that balance it all out.
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How Gaffigan balances comedy and drama
“Comedy can serve a purpose, and I think it is part of any good drama — there should be some humorous elements. But I think that as a comedian, you can either alleviate the tension with comedy, or you can use it as a tool facilitating the character’s development,” he says.
When Gaffigan got the script for Linoleum, he was intrigued by the idea of playing not one, but two characters. But he’s not that jazzed about outer-space in real life.
“I knew there would be a challenge surrounding me communicating this enthusiasm for science. It’s not really my wheelhouse,” he says.
As a kid, Gaffigan fancied himself more of the Indiana Jones type than the Neil Armstrong type.
“It was one of those things where I would pack a lunch and I was like, ‘I’m gonna go exploring,'” he says. “This is when I was, like, seven. I would go, and our neighborhood ended, and then there was kind of a construction site and a creek, and I would imagine that I was some explorer. So finding that enthusiasm for science that Cameron has in his show was not foreign.”
What really excited Gaffigan was digging into the overarching themes of the story.
“The script was super ambitious, and I knew that if the writer-director Colin could hit five of the 10 themes or ideas that he wanted to talk about or present, the movie would be pretty special,” he says.
The result is a movie that leaves you searching for more answers and discussing ideas and theories with people around you.
“That’s what I think is so important about this movie and movies like this — some people call them parking lot movies, where you talk about it in the parking lot — I think that movies, or even a play, should present questions,” he says.
“I believe comedy has an aftertaste… it doesn’t necessarily have to resonate, but it should prompt some discussion. I was watching Severance with my wife. We were in two different cities, and I was like, ‘You gotta hurry up because I have some questions.’ I think that’s a great complement to a show or to a movie — that you don’t have the answers.”
Linoleum is now playing in select theaters.
Main Image: Jim Gaffigan in Linoleum. Photo Credit: Shout! Studios