|Charmed I'm sure......|
Patton Oswalt is one of my favorite comedians and one of the smartest, funny people alive. His point blank sarcasm colors his observational humor in a twisted way which confounds some, but makes perfect sense to me. I have long been a fan and while his star is rising of late, it seems like he is only just now getting widely recognized as one of the better, more important humans among us.
Most people know Patton from his stand up specials, from his role as Spence on The King of Queens on CBS and the Pixar animated movie Ratatouille. You may have also seen him on VH1's Best Week Ever (he was fired for making fun of Paris Hilton), Zoolander, Blade: Trinity, Reno 911, The Comedians of Comedy tour, Blood Into Wine, Lewis Black's Root of All Evil show and some of Comedy Central's Roast of... episodes. Patton has had a big impact on me through his stand up and through his brilliant albums Feeling Kinda Patton (United Musicians) Werewolves and Lollipops (Sub Pop) and My Weakness is Strong (Warner Bros.), the Comedy Death Ray record and podcast, some comic books he has written (Justice League America for DC and the award winning Goon series) and seeing him perform live.
|See this film ASAP!|
More recently two of his performances that really jumped out and grabbed me are his portrayal of Neal on the United States of Tara on Showtime and his starring role in the dark comedy Big Fan. In The United States of Tara Oswalt's character Neal pines for Tara's sister Charmaine. She is always looking to trade up to a “better guy”, but does seem to really love Neal in the end. He is kind of a nice guy who finishes last/first type which I can relate to. Better still was his award winning turn as Paul Aufiero in Big Fan. As Paul, Oswalt portrays the character of a sports obsessed guy (New York Football Giants), who lives with his mom and doesn't do much else beyond work and listen to sports talk radio all day. Anybody that knows me knows that easily described me from about age 4-30 when I had Giants season tickets and I lived and breathed sports. Paul's journey takes him to some rough places and the ending of the movie has one of the better twists in recent cinema.
Oswalt has a new book out, his first entitled Zombie Spaceship Wasteland (Scribner). Part memoir, part missive on modern society; the book is really funny with the same kind of biting wit you find in his act. The title comes from a classification Oswalt creates that defines people. A classification that takes hold in your teenage years an usually sets your course in life. Not to give too much away, but it turns out I am a Zombie. I thought that would be cool at first, but it turns out I'd really rather be a Wasteland. Too bad for me I can't seem to get there in my life. Oh well. The book also has some musings on his crawl up the comedy food chain from serf to god (my words, not his), life in the perpetual fakeness that is Los Angeles, a short comic serial and some memories of his crazy grandma. I think Oswalt is really brilliant, but always brings things to back to home base after going off on an abstract idea or ten. Since his cultural references to music, sci-fi, literature, atheism, politics and comedy mirror a lot of my own life his material often resonates with me. When I heard he was doing a book release signing with a Q and A at the Brookline Booksmith I had to go.
|My favorite book store right now.|
|My ticket to ride and my java.|
Getting my five dollar ticket I recall thinking it should have cost a lot more. The Booksmith has become my favorite bookstore in the Boston area and the readings and Q and A were to take place across the street at the Coolidge Theater, the great restored art deco theater where I saw Howl last fall. I was early on the line to get in on the coldest day of the winter so far, but it was worth it. Patton tweeted that he was nice and warm in car and felt bad for us. Finally we got into the theater which was sold out and Patton joined us shortly. Thanking us for braving the cold and read three chapters from the book which were all hysterically funny. Then he took about thirty minutes of questions and he was as generous as could be considering he was exhausted.
|A work of genius and hilarity.|
Afterward back at the Booksmith the line was already forming for the signing and I was one of the first people out of the theater! After a bit of a wait I got to meet Patton. He was beat tired, but really nice as we chatted about Warren Ellis, United States of Tara and Big Fan. I told him that he and Louis CK were my only hope like Obi-Wan since George Carlin died. Thanking me for the sentiment he signed my book “Enjoy!” but the exclamation point looks sort of like a question mark. Weird.
|Enjoy! or Enjoy? What ever did he mean?|
That night Patton had a show at the Wilbur Theater where I have seen Louis CK, THE DRESDEN DOLLS and Oswalt himself a year earlier. His current act of all new material is incredible and it is really great to see him work live. I think he has the best sense of timing since Bill Hicks or a young Carlin. Delivery is everything in comedy. As my mother the choreographer once said “Three things in life take precise timing: bank robberies, comedy routines and dance”. The intellectual factor is not to be understated in his work and sometimes I wonder if some of the jokes are too smart for the crowd. Maybe he thinks this too sometimes, I wonder. Granted this is in Boston, a collegiate environment if there ever was one. On this night he definitely killed it and I was really happy for having stalked him around Boston proper for a day.