Monday, November 24, 2008

Feelin' Kinda ...

The first time I saw Patton Oswalt live was the stuff of legend.

Wait ... let's go back.

The first time I saw Patton Oswalt ever was a repeat of his Comedy Central special, "No Reason To Complain" on TV. This after being reassured that, "No, no, he's really good," after my arched-eyebrowed query, "uh ... isn't that the dude from 'King of Queens?"

He is easily the funniest person I've ever seen; certainly one of the funniest comics, and quickly became my favorite. Call it blasphemy, but even more so than Bill Hicks or the other obvious choices. What can I say, this guy speaks with a voice that I understand. And he has killer timing, and works the hopeless, nerdy schlub thing so deftly in his favor.

So shortly after "No Reason," the "Comedians of Comedy" series aired on Comedy Central. I was addicted. On their own, I can do without the antics of the in(s)ane Bamford, the toilet-obsessed Posehn, and the hell-bent-for-leather-on-being-"out-there" Galifanakis; but as the team behind Oswalt, the series never failed to disappoint.

So in the spring of 2006 when it was announced they'll be doing another tour, I bought the tickets for the Chicago stop; we ended up showing for what turned out to be the 2nd show at the Logan Square Auditorium (actually a ballroom).

I don't even know how long the show went on; all I know there was a brief period before when Bamford was politely annoying, Posehn told his dick jokes, and Mirman was just plain weird ... and then a whiskey-addled Patton went on for about 2 1/2 hours with maybe a 5 minute breather somewhere in there.

It was easily the hardest I'd laughed, in earnest, ever. I barely had 2 drinks that night; and was on my feet all night after one of the longest weeks of my life, after having just buried my great-aunt, who was like a grandmother to me, before making the 5 hour drive up north on a Friday night after a full week's worth of work.

The next day, Patton would refer to it on his site's blog as, "[T]he best show of the tour, and maybe the best show I ever did. "

This Saturday's show was very different. It was eons away from that balmy April night in Chicago 2 years ago. The room of the swanky downtown casino was lined neatly with rows of cushioned seats. Patton himself has lost a good 30lbs (or better). He was dressed in tweed and slacks. No whiskey this time, just a bottle of water. Instead of fronting a pack of guerrilla comedians, he was announced by the emcee as the "[V]oice of Ratatouille," and "[Y]ou know him from 'King of Queens.'" He was all alone.

And yet, the audience -- including myself -- roared the entire hour and a half. At his second show of the evening.

It is clear from his act that he's a changed man by his family comedy successes, especially those of late. I certainly wouldn't say for the worse ... but you can tell that he's not really sure what to do with himself these days. He's still searingly witty and cynical; and while it is clear that he's at odds with that fact, I don't see it ever changing.

So, long story short (too late); it's best to sum up that I still strongly identify him. Perhaps now more than ever.


  1. Isn't it wonderful when the artists we love evolve along with us?

  2. It was a great show, I just hated the venue. Surely he could have had a two night stint at The Pageant. Having to walk through an entire smoke filled Casino, surrounded by degenerates to the highest degree irked me.

  3. Oh, agreed. He could have easily rocked the Pageant for one if not two shows.

    And yes, Di. It very much is.