Jim Gaffigan’s viral Twitter thread about President Trump last week was an eye-opener for him, too.
The family-friendly comedian, generally perceived as apolitical, shocked many fans when he went on a tear against Trump during the incumbent president’s acceptance speech on the final night of the Republican National Convention.
The responses ranged from those cheering on the clean-cut comedian, a practicing Catholic and famously a family man, for standing up for his political beliefs to Trump supporters swearing off of the standup comic’s act forever.
Gaffigan responded in a lengthy Facebook
post Sunday night entitled “What I’ve Learned Since I Lost My Mind,” which he also shared on his official Twitter
and Instagram accounts. And he explained what set him off, as well as what the responses taught him about the state of American politics today.
First things first: He says he was not drunk, and that he didn’t really think most people would let an actor/comedian sway their vote, “despite the fact that the current President is essentially both an actor and a comedian.” But he was hoping to “change some minds,” he admitted — particularly the minds of the people he believes are “frightened enough by Trump and the GOP lies, they would pinch their nose and vote for Trump” despite not really believing in him.
‘Why speak out like I did? Honestly, I feel I had no choice at this point. I think Trump is ruining and possibly has already ruined my country.’
And the responses proved to him that “Republican talking points work,” and that Trump is “possibly the best salesman I’ve seen in my lifetime.” Many of the comments he received underlined just how devoted Trump’s supporters are to their president. “It doesn’t matter that Trump and his folks are breaking laws, trying to kill Obamacare, [a prohibition on excluding insurance coverage of] pre-existing conditions or that his handling of the pandemic was disastrous,” Gaffigan continued, “to Trump voters he is THEIR guy. More importantly he’s ‘THEIR president’ and disagreeing with them is a personal insult.”
And so, some of the fallout has been furious. Gaffigan shared a screenshot from one reader responding to the comic’s anti-Trump Twitter thread with a not-so-veiled threat: “You’ll be looking over your shoulder the rest of your life,” the comment read. “Enjoy.”
Gaffigan revealed this is just “one of the many messages I received that are quasi-threatening or flat-out threatening.” And he used it to argue that the president “is not a unifier,” but that he and his followers instead “stoke hatred and violence.”
“I’m not saying that both Kenosha shootings wouldn’t have happened with a different President,” Gaffigan wrote. “I’m just saying there would have been leadership to solve the issue rather than capitalize on it.”
But threats and responses from “tons” of bots aside, Gaffigan said the experience was a “liberating” one. “It was refreshing to let four years of frustration boil over and offer some straight talk on what Trump has done to our country or our democracy,” he wrote.
Gaffigan’s post drew more than 26,000 comments in less than a week, and had been shared more than 23,000 times, while 115,000 Facebook users had “liked” the comic’s explanation of his words and their motivations, even as a Wall Street Journal op-ed six days later was excoriating him as having courted the death of laughter, instructing Gaffigan that, while “[t]here’s a time and place for [political comedy],” now and here, for reasons not fully explained, do not meet the op-ed author’s criteria.
Check out Gaffigan’s remarks here: