Only Jim Gaffigan can make cannibalism funny.
The man who used jokes about Hot Pocket gluttony to become one of America's most well-known stand-up comedians is now riffing on history: Columbus, the Roman Empire, the Alamo and aboriginal tribes of New Zealand ... you know, the island natives that used to eat each other.
It always comes down to food with this guy.
Gaffigan brought his "Fixer Upper Tour" to Amsoil Arena on Sunday night, cracking jokes about his wife and kids, telling stories about the road, and poking fun at his waistline while 6,300 fans howled with laughs. The 70-minute performance came five years after his last Duluth appearance at Symphony Hall.
"History? Why are you talking so much about history?" said Gaffigan, imitating a confused concertgoer. "I thought this was a comedy show."
It was a comedy show - and pretty darn good one.
Gaffigan, sporting a beard, took the stage in sneakers, jeans and a button-down shirt. The Indiana native whose wife hails from Wisconsin immediately launched into a routine about visiting cold, Midwestern climates.
"People are very nice in Duluth," he said. "But I've notices a pattern. They say: 'Thank you for coming to Duluth, you gotta come back for the summer. ... Come back LATER. Summer: It's amazing.' Are you trying to convince me ... or yourself?"
Had Gaffigan arrived two weeks earlier, when Duluth was under more than a foot of snow, he would have gotten his answer.
Gaffigan joked about the Rust Belt ("Why does every building look like it was designed by Stalin?"), a DaVinci painting of Jesus Christ that recently sold for millions ("You see paintings of the baby Jesus and the adult Jesus, but never teenage Jesus. No Acne Jesus."), and Finnish saunas ("Who doesn't love being trapped inside a smoldering volcano?")
One of his longer bits may not have gone over so well in June during Grandma's Marathon.
A former collegiate football player, Gaffigan joked for almost 10 minutes about marathon culture. He questioned the existence of a "runner's high," called reading about running boring and mocked anyone who spent time attending a marathon: "What is going on in your life that you are WATCHING a marathon?"
Still, the heart of Gaffigan's humor is the self-deprecating stories about his unhealthy lifestyle. At 51, Gaffigan finds trips to the gym are no longer productive and only blames himself: "I used to exercise to stay fit," he said. "Now I exercise to fit into cars."
After a 60-minute performance earned a loud closing ovation, Gaffigan returned to the stage and treated the audience to his famous Hot Pocket routine. Most stand-up comedy fans have heard his rant about the microwavable processed food before - and it's still funny.
Veteran New York City comedian Ted Alexandro opened the evening. His announcement that the "Fixer Upper Tour" stopped in Green Bay on Friday night was greeted with a round of boos. "That's OK," he said. "When I told them we were stopping in Minnesota next, they booed you."