Pandemic parenting stinks and we are over it. COVID continues to burn through the Greek alphabet with what feels like a parade of unending variants, leaving parents exhausted, frustrated, and disheartened. And while he can’t save parents from the pandemic marathon, Jim Gaffigan has a unique ability to normalize parental frustration while loosening everyone up to laugh at themselves and with each other.
In Comedy Monster – Gaffigan’s new Netflix special – he starts by comparing the pandemic to a TV show you thought was canceled before getting picked up for another season. And with more than a tinge of resignation he encapsulates the pandemic weariness that we all feel so deeply: “Oh, I didn’t really pace myself for another season.”
It’s an empathetic line that delivers knowing chuckles from the audience, but it doesn’t fully encapsulate how deflating it is every time your kid has to stay home from school because they’ve been exposed to COVID, gets COVID, or the school can’t function due to COVID-related staffing shortages. Fortunately, Gaffigan was just getting started, and he brings the point home by making a perfect multi-sensory comparison.
“Parents know the feeling,” he says. “It’s like changing that diaper in the middle of the night. You’re exhausted. It’s disgusting. But you have to do it. So you change the diaper, you finally get the sleeper back on, and as you gently lay the baby back in the crib, you hear the diaper fill up again. And that’s what the year 2021 is. Over and over. It’s just a diaper filling up over and over.”
It’s funny because it’s true. And much like those dirty diapers we are all too familiar with, the mess has seeped into 2022. It stinks, but at least Gaffigan has found a way for us to get a laugh out of it and help us remember that pandemic fatigue is one of those universal parenting struggles.
Jim Gaffigan’s Comedy Monster is streaming now on Netflix.
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