While Jim Gaffigan is best known for bringing the laughs, the comedian has quieted his jokes over the past few months following his wife’s brain tumour diagnosis.
ET Canada exclusively sat down with the 50-year-old Daytime Emmy nominee at the “Laughter is the Best Medicine” charity gala in Toronto for the Michael Garron Hospital Foundation, where he opened up about his wife Jeannie Gaffigan’s serious health scare.
“It’s crazy,” Gaffigan explained. “My wife had dealt with some hearing loss and she went to an ear, nose and throat doctor and they did an MRI and they saw that there was a tumour in her head. You know, the joke is I always knew she was crazy to be interested in me, but there’s something wrong with her brain.”
Despite working in the entertainment industry for over two decades, with sold-out stand-up shows in Madison Square Garden and three acclaimed Netflix comedy specials, Gaffigan admits that he considered retiring from comedy once hearing about his wife’s life-threatening condition.
A six-centimetre benign brain tumour had been wrapped around her brain stem and suppressed her cranial nerves, before it was removed during a nine-hour surgery at a New York City hospital.
“We hear about some celebrities passing away and we unconsciously think, ‘I’m glad that will never happen to me or someone I care about,'” he says. “They removed the tumour, but it’s the brain. It’s serious stuff. She’s fine. She’s recovering. It’s something that I think 10 years ago, I don’t know what it would be like or 20 years, but it’s pretty dramatic.”
The new “Fargo” star adds that one of the biggest challenges was telling the couple’s five children. “I have five kids so there are five different types of reactions to it,” he says. “A four-year-old, you don’t expect them to grasp the gravity, and then a 14-year-old, you want them to understand because there’s the enormity of responsibility that could have been levied on them.”
Gaffigan first broke the news to the public on social media, where he shared photos of his wife’s recovery. “I didn’t have an expectation to be really public about it,” the comedian adds. “Probably the most amazing thing is the outpouring of support that people have given on social media, which is amazing.”