When Jeannie Gaffigan takes the stage at Marquette University’s commencement this Sunday, it’ll almost feel like a victory lap. Gaffigan graduated from Marquette, back when she was Jeannie Noth. She’s been a comedy writer for years since then.
Jeannie - who grew up in Milwaukee - and her husband, comedian Jim Gaffigan collaborate on much of Jim’s stand-up material, and they'll both deliver the commencement speech and each recieve an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. This speech is also a return to the stage following surgery to remove a life-threatening brain tumor last year.
Jeannie recalls how their commencement message at Catholic University two years ago happened to be perfectly appropriate for the challenges they would face just a few months later:
"In retrospect, you go - wow," says Gaffigan. "It was about being together, about relationships and about carrying each other through the most difficult times in life. And then lo and behold, we are faced with something that we needed each other for."
Although many students will be thinking about their college lives and what's next for their new careers outside of school, Gaffigan says that her message will be about the people that impact your life.
"It's other people and relationships that are really the things that are going to carry you through your life," she notes. "You can't do everything alone, no one is Superman."
Although Jeannie and Jim Gaffigan will return to Milwaukee together for Marquette's commencement, she was solo when Lake Effect's Mitch Teich caught up with her via Skype from New York: