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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Patton Oswalt

The Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album went to Patton Oswalt for Talking for Clapping. The album itself doesn't seem to be available in CD form, but the performance was also taped for Netflix, which now seems to have replaced HBO as the go to place for comedy shows.

Oswalt is a versatile performer--an actor (he was the voice of Remy in Ratatouille) and is now filling in as TV's Son of TV's Frank on Mystery Science Theater 3000. But he's been doing stand-up for almost thirty years. I found him amusing if not hilarious.

Dressing heavily in what looks like a blue serge suit over several layers (and he did a lot of sweating, which he made jokes about), the portly Oswalt did not tell one-liners, but instead illustrated points by telling stories. Watching him was kind of chatting with him at a party, the guy who tells great stories and collects a group. Some of his stories have no particular point--he describes the worst set of his life, when he tried to MC a show with the stomach flu but a heckler through him off his game by calling him a faggot and he ended up shitting his pants on stage.

His set is also fairly political. He wonders why anyone would be against gay marriage or transgender people, but he's preaching to the choir. He makes other observations, such as on cell phone ringtones, how radio jingles remain in his head years later but he can't remember his CPR training, and parenting--did you know that boys are different than girls? Much of this is not terribly original and he overkills the punchline. Sometimes I liked throwaway lines that weren't necessarily funny but were great set-ups, like "I went to the DMV and the post office on the same day." He really didn't have to say anything after that, because that sounds so horribly funny. The follow-up didn't meet the promise of the premise.

Probably his best bit was the closer, a story about a kid's birthday party and a strange birthday clown, who came out of the woods and was dressed in very little clown apparel. Oswalt tells it well, and the last line of his show is "a clown with a knife in his chest."

Oswalt comes across as a great guy, rather than the typical neurotic comedian. But his stuff needs to be tightened. I smiled a lot, but I never laughed out loud.

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