Why Do I Like Patton?

It all began a couple months ago, when Joe was over hanging out with me at Barnes & Noble while I worked on my laptop. He disappeared into the cd/dvd section and came out with Patton Oswalt‘s “Feelin’ Kinda Patton,” and I ripped it to my computer and set it up so we could both listen to it. Funny as hell. I introduced a bunch of friends to Patton via the ripped files on my computer (and at least one of ’em bought the DVD and CD himself, so my conscience is assuaged for the ripping). They found him equally high-larious. We started noticing him in other places, like (a favorite) in Reno 911, in Zoolander, here and there.

Month or three later, Joe got ahold of a couple of tickets to Patton and the other awesome Comedians of Comedy. We saw him. Great show, him and the other CoCs. When I talked to Patton and Brian Posehn as they signed some merch for me, I blurted out to both of them something like “you guys are some of the good guys,” you know, on the side of Good, which they seemed to be very surprised and flattered at.
What was that supposed to mean?

OK, here’s the thing. Patton’s comedy can be vicious and shocking. He does not pull punches. It is not something I’ll let my kids near till they’re like, 40 or something. Why “the good guys?”

I’m speaking about Patton here — I don’t know Posehn’s stuff well enough to cite examples — but here’s what I see.

On the album, Patton is doing a bit about how square his parents were, and how that made him rebel and do something cool with his life, and his cohorts who had hippie parents rebelled by becoming boring killjoys. At one point he goes, “my parents, whom I hated,” then catches himself and adds “at the time,” lest there be any doubt that he loves and respects his parents now. It was just a half a second throwaway line, but it’s like, man, this guy doesn’t feel right saying that he hated his parents without letting them and anyone watching know that he doesn’t hate them now. That’s cool. (Of course, some comedians spend a fair amount of time paying back parents that they still hold in contempt, like David Spade and his long-absentee dad, but that’s another story.)

OK, that’s one thing. Another is from an interview I saw online and can’t for the life of me find now, when he is speaking out against the Bush administration, and his accusation was that they “don’t recognize the inherent value of people.” I was floored, cause yeah, that really is a stab deep into the heart of what is wrong with Washington, but not something that you’d think of off the top of your head in connection to politics.

Then there are the retard jokes. Three or four times on “Feelin’ Kinda Patton” he involves or refers to retarded — or more correctly, “developmentally disabled” (DD) people in his jokes. That on the face of it is cruel and insensitive, but here’s the thing — my wife and my friend Dave’s wife have both put in a lot of time dealing with DD people in their careers as a social worker and a teacher, and both of them agreed that the man jokes about DD folks like he really knows them. Something about most of the jokes, cruel as they might seem, bespeaks a real-world familiarity with the people involved. (Especially the “Biblevania” one.) I would guess that Patton has a relative or friend who’s DD or has worked with them at some point in his life. Just a guess. There’s just enough reality there to suggest he’s not really trading in stereotypes but in observations of the real world, which makes it all good, to me.
Seems like I had two or three more things to add, but they’re not popping into my mind right now, and it’s late. So Ill leave you with the retard jokes. Lucky you! But you know how some celebrities just you feel like you know them and you’d enjoy hanging around with them? Oswalt gives off that vibe for me, that he’s just a damn good guy.

I’m glad that damn good people sometimes also happen to be damn hilarious, damn irreverent, and damn smart. We need more of that.

Oh, also he said kind things about Midwesterners of all political stripes in this interview.

Again, btw, I’m not singling out Oswalt as opposed to Posehn, Mirman and Bamford because he’s better than them somehow. Just that I know his stuff better at the moment.

And that is all.  Bed beckons.  Hopefully this isn’t too incoherent from having been typed up late at night after a long day keeping up with the 5 year olds.

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