Bethel Woods celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, and the place looks damn good. The lawns continue to be meticulously maintained, the grounds are still immaculate, the museum still draws thousands from all over the world. Even the comedian Jim Gaffigan was singing its praises last Saturday at his first time gig at the Sullivan County landmark.
“It’s beautiful here,” he said, gazing at the distance, with the skies as big as Montana. And then he went into his shtick. “The Fall must be amazing….the FOLIAGE,” he says reverently as if describing a trip to Lourdes, and with an excited girly voice proclaims, “Let’s go for a ride in the car and watch leaves DIE.” The place goes wild. We’re all guilty.
“More chlorophyll….more chlorophyll,” says one leaf as his partner-leaf, named Carl falls to his death. The pine trees nearby chuckle at the weaknesses of their neighbors.
For an hour, Gaffigan was non-stop funny. Explaining his weight, he blamed it on growing up in the Midwest where it’s too cold to do anything but eat. As a youth, he had watched a documentary about Siberia, where the Russians sent their enemies, and gazing at the snow covered land, little Gaffigan yelled, “There’s my house! My bike….” Why would anyone LIVE here,” he moaned to his father. But his style is very unique in these days of foul-mouthed comics. Gaffigan’s act is very much PG, more observational than cruel, and occasionally lapses into the third person, someone in the audience who might find his joke about the Pope, for instance, offensive. “It must be a tough job,” Gaffigan says, “the last one just quit.”
Or his love for meat, especially Omaha steaks which come in the same kind of cooler that paramedics will one day bring his new heart.
Or on his touring, when his youngest says, “Daddy, I miss your voice,” Gaffigan shoots back with a “Well, buy my album.”
Or (one more, I promise), his famous “Hot Pockets” hilarity. The frozen meat patty comes two to a box, he says, “One to eat now and the other to keep in your fridge until you move.”
It’s just too funny, and so as not to give any more away, you can watch him in The Jim Gaffigan Show which is starting its second season on TVLand. In the show, he plays a fictional version of himself as he tries to find a balance between being a father of 5, a husband, a comedian, and having an insatiable appetite.
Opening for Gaffigan was the funny Ted Alexandro who uses his past job as a teacher for his comedy. “The recorder,” he says. “Who remembers Satan’s instrument?” And he proceeds to show the crowd the three notes used to perform “Hot Cross Buns.” The same three notes used to perform “Three Blind Mice. BUT NOBODY NOTICED!” Alexandro performed heroically, got in his own funny licks, and then as soon as he left the stage, Gaffigan walked on to great applause.
Now a word about Bethel Woods. It’s more than just a summer concert destination. Throughout the year, the Center is host to indoor classical concerts, movies and lectures. Its museum tells the story of the 1960’s and the Woodstock Concert, with lots of music videos, plenty of memorabilia, and the fascinating timeline of the tumultuous decade.
Upcoming shows include:
August 4: Toby Keith with Brandy Clark
August 5: Counting Crows & Rob Thomas
August 7: Pitbull with Prince Royce
August 20: Smokey Robinson
September 10: Don Henley
For ticket information, overnight accommodations, dining and travel options, visit bethelwoodscenter.org.
All photos by Mike Solomon/ Bethel Woods Center for the Arts