Book notes: Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan book summary review and key ideas.

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Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan


“In Dad is Fat, stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan, who’s best known for his legendary riffs on Hot Pockets, bacon, manatees, and McDonald’s, expresses all the joys and horrors of life with five young children – everything from cousins (“celebrities for little kids”) to toddlers’ communication skills (“they always sound like they have traveled by horseback for hours to deliver important news”), to the eating habits of four-year-olds (“there is no difference between a four-year-old eating a taco and throwing a taco on the floor”). Dad is Fat is sharply observed, explosively funny, and a cry for help from a man who has realized he and his wife are outnumbered in their own home.” -Audible

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Opening thoughts:

I picked up this book because I know of Jim Gaffigan and how he’s a great comedian. I saw that he had some books and they had a pretty decent reviews hopefully he will be fun and entertaining

Key notes:

  • He had a weird experience with his good friend Tom and his wife and their baby on a trip to the Grand Canyon. They were so cautious and protective of the noise around the baby
  • He explains that parenting is like being in a cult and you won’t understand it until you’re there and a parent yourself
  • He thinks that anything labeled family friendly or kid friendly means not good and not adult friendly
  • He never expected to be a parent and never thought he would be
  • Most standup comedians are well aware that they are not normal
    • There’s nothing normal about going on stage and making strangers laugh
    • Comedians are natural contrarians. Tell them to do something, and they’ll do the exact opposite just to see how you’ll react
  • Some people think he’s anti-family
    • On the contrary, he loves being a parent and enjoys finding the humor in parenting
  • With parenting also comes a lot of guilt
  • Parents are not cool and trying to be cool it’s not cool
  • Powerlessness is the defining characteristic of fatherhood
    • During the birthing process the father is the most useless and yet he is appointed vice president
  • By today’s standards, the dads of the past don’t seem as great. He thinks that over time, dads are getting better
  • Parenting was literally a wake up call for his own simple selfishness
  • Women are amazing because of their role in continuing the human species
  • He thinks it’s strange when people feel like getting pregnant is this weird unwelcome and bad thing
  • All of their children had home births
  • He feels like once you have your first child you discover what true, unconditional love is
  • He believes having a dog is not the same as having a baby even though people like to make that comparison
  • Having another child completely changes the family dynamic and the other kids usually react negatively
  • His wife Jeannie is so amazing and can do so many things on top of taking care of their children, she also his partner and producer for his shows
  • Toddlers are hilariously entertaining
    • Toddlers are like caveman because they don’t use logic
    • Toddlers are adorable but they are so hard to take care of
    • Toddlers are self-centered and act like kings but there’s no consequences
    • Toddlers are walking petri dishes of bacteria and viruses. And there’s nothing you can do about that
  • All parents lie to their kids but they never thought they would
  • The question is the primary form of communication for a little kids
  • Children are synonymous with the screaming
  • With kids, you will be a terrible neighbor due to all the noise
  • Kids are afraid of monsters and this comes from the fear of the unknown
    • This fear doesn’t ever really go away when you’re an adult
  • Little kids have bad taste in almost everything
  • New York City is a hassle to live in with kids, but he loves the city
  • For kids, it’s easy to make friends and just start playing with each other
    • If adults did that it would be weird
    • If only all human interactions were as easy as they are for kids
  • Play dates for his kids with other strangers kids is the most awkward thing for him but it’s great for the children
    • There should be a dating service for play dates to make sure the parents are good match
  • Going to other children’s birthday parties will be such a normal routine but it’s still one of the most awkward things
  • It’s difficult taking kids to church
  • There are many different types of babysitters and it’s good to be aware of them
  • Bedtime is simply just a series of negotiations with terrorists
  • He loves sleep but had to give up his relationship with sleep because kids got in the way
  • Naps are a payday loan to three-year-olds because it’ll cause them to be insomniac and up four hours past bedtime
  • It’s almost inevitable to get fat when you have kids because it’s hard to get to eat healthy and you end up eating their leftovers
  • Pizza is the holy grail for feeding children
  • Bringing kids to a fine dining restaurant is also a big mistake and everyone knows it
    • The kids always need their food first
  • When it comes to feeding and bargaining with kids, McDonald’s wins
  • Gum is the worst candy for kids, and lollipops are the best because they keep them quiet
  • The holiday season is the time for kids to unlearn all of the good habits they developed during the year like going to bed on time and not eating sweets
  • Children love their cousins because they are like siblings but you don’t see them enough to get sick of them
  • He feels the question “are you done yet?” in regards to having children lacks any boundaries and usually followed by or filled with judgment 
  • Kids and disease are the true gateways to faith
  • One of the benefits of having five kids is that you get excused from many social events
  • Most vacations are you eating in a place you’ve never been
  • He knows he’s going to miss this time with his kids
    • Eventually they’ll be embarrassed at him but for now he feels like a superhero to them

Closing thoughts:

This book was everything I expected, but also a bit more. I knew Jim Gaffigan was funny, and he definitely delivered on that end with his humorous and witty take on kids. I was also expecting to get to know him a bit more and his personal life since all I really know about him is his comedy.

What I wasn’t expecting was to get a lot of great insights about parenthood and navigating a life filled with children. It’s interesting that people may interpret his comedy as “anti-family” because he makes fun of being a parent so much. In reality, he’s clearly pro-family and is grateful for how his kids have changed him for the better. He doesn’t sugarcoat how difficult and stressful it can be, but he ultimately says that it’s worth it and the best thing that happened to him.

One Takeaway / Putting into practice:

The main takeaway I’d choose for this book is the one he brings up at the very end of the book:

  • Cherish your time with your kids because you’ll miss it when they grow up

I think this is something I want to always keep in mind. Focus on and enjoy the present moment. No matter if it seems good or bad, it’s worth appreciating because it’ll be over before you know it.


Jim Gaffigan gives his hilarious insights on parenthood and raising kids in NYC.

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5.


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