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'I Had Stage Fright And A Fear Of Public Speaking': Jim Gaffigan On Stand-Up Comedy & Movie 'American Dreamer'

(CBS Local)-- New York resident Jim Gaffigan doesn't own a car, but the character he plays in his new movie "American Dreamer" spends a ton of time driving around as a ride share driver.

The stand-up comedian shows the audience a much darker side of his personality in his new mystery thriller that hits New York theaters today. While Gaffigan has spent a ton of time in front of the camera with his seven comedy specials and appearances in movies like "Super Troopers" and "13 Going On 30", this role challenged him in a different way.

"It was amazing. I had read the script and really responded to the story. I loved the fact that this character was somebody at the beginning that maybe you empathize with him and by the end, you have a different opinion," said Gaffigan in an interview with CBS Local's DJ Sixsmith. "I think overall acting is just kind of concentrating. It's hard with small Indies just to get people to check it out. There are so many options of things to check out. This one is pretty heavy."

Gaffigan first came to New York in his 20s after he finished playing college football at Georgetown. The stand-up comic quickly realized his degree in finance and job at an advertising agency wasn't going to be the path for him.

"A big inspiration was David Letterman, but also his sensibility... the way that he was sarcastic and it was open to people and that was really appealing," said Gaffigan. "I'm a huge Bill Murray fan and [Jerry] Seinfeld and [George] Carlin. When I got to New York, I realized I had always had an interest in performing. I had this fear of public speaking and I took this improv class and then someone in the class dared me to do a stand-up seminar. This was 30 years ago and I fell in love with stand-up immediately."

While Gaffigan is one of the biggest names in comedy today, it took him a long time to find his voice on the stage and the on screen.

"It took me a while. I've heard that it can take 10 years for a comedian to find a voice and I think it probably did take me 10 years," said Gaffigan. "I had a lot of stage fright and stand-up is a coversation with the audience and you will learn through this conversation with the audience... you'll learn how you come across and whether you're saying things that will make people feel uncomfortable. It's a learning process and it's also transferring what makes you funny on stage. It didn't happen immediately for me."

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