Jim Gaffigan’s L.A. favorites

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Jim Gaffigan gets offered Hot Pockets wherever he goes. You know, those frozen pastry thingies that can be thrown into the toaster oven or the microwave when the munchies hit? They’re also a cornerstone of Gaffigan’s comedy career along with his love of bacon, the joys of being lazy and being really, really pale.

It’s a legacy, however, that leaves Gaffigan with mixed feelings. “I don’t want to be known as the ‘Hot Pocket guy,’ do I?” he said recently. “I never really imagined I would be this guy who talked about the mundane so much.” He admits he’s jealous of the social satirist -- you know, the comedian who feels like a kid on Christmas morning when Vice President Dick Cheney has an ill-fated hunting trip. “That guy gets to talk about Cheney shooting someone, and I’m talking about stumbling through a revolving door ... or doing 8 million ketchup jokes.”

Well, Jim, we beg to differ. Sure, satire has its time and place. But we’ll take the universal appeal of bacon any day. And Gaffigan’s new DVD, “King Baby,” serves up plenty of laughs. While we had Jim on the phone, we also had to ask: Where did he develop that signature routine where he gives voice to the audience’s presumed thoughts?

At that question, we got him laughing.

“I call it the ‘inside voice.’ It’s one of those things where it was an aspect of my personality in everyday life. I was using it when I was a teenager, because it was an easy way to defuse a situation.... If I was meeting someone, and I was running late, I’d walk up to them and say, ‘Jim, I can’t believe you’re late, you wanted to meet me here and then you’re 10 minutes late,’ because I knew it’s what they were thinking. I started mixing it in a little bit in my act. It was hit-or-miss at first.”

Well, Gaffigan’s got it down pat now. Give the man a Hot Pocket!

Here are some of Gaffigan’s favorite haunts when he’s in L.A. with his two kids:

The pony rides at Griffith Park

Griffith Park is like the lazy parents’ paradise, isn’t it? You just literally show up and put your kids on a pony. Kids love riding those ponies. And then boom, you turn around and there’s a train right there. And then there’s some crummy simulator [ride], but the kids love it and you can just stand there and watch them. And then you turn around and there’s the snack stand. You don’t have to move. You go during the week, when it’s less crowded. It’s just so easy. The Santa Monica Pier is nice, but that can be kind of chaotic with kids. I think every city in America should have a place like [the pony rides at Griffith Park]. Why don’t they?

The pool at The Palazzo East

This is the corporate housing that I stay at when I am in L.A. It’s legendary for the bicoastal person. Like the Oakwood, only you feel less of a desire to kill yourself because it’s nicer and it’s ridiculously expensive. The pool, if you’ve got kids, is just the go-to thing. There’s young Hollywood and the hipsters and I’m this incredibly white guy in a sun hat throwing a 3- and 4-year-old around while they scream their heads off and annoy everyone. It’s really about the simplicity of it all.

Mastro’s Steakhouse in Beverly Hills

This is where I go whenever my agent or manager takes me out. You never grow out of getting treated for a meal. That’s just a beautiful thing. They take their steaks seriously, and it’s just heaven for me. I always get the filet mignon and the wedge salad, ‘cause I’m an old white guy, I think we have to order that.... I wish I could go there every night.

The Improv

L.A.'s got great comedy clubs, but the Improv is just such an easy one where I know I can do a set and see familiar faces.... There is nothing more rewarding.

Todd Glass’ house

Fellow comedian Todd Glass hosts a regular Sunday night dinner party that Gaffigan tries to make whenever he’s in town. “A Todd Glass dinner party is literally that much fun. From the moment you arrive, to the time you leave. It reminds me of what Old Hollywood must have been like, where you know everyone who’s there.... Todd is crazy and hysterical and everyone is very inclusive and nothing is pretentious about it. It’s a very rare thing.... I think it should be on TV.”