Spotlight: A whole lot of Patton, the funny kind

By Jeff Kubik

It’s good to know there are people able to ask life’s tough questions, to consider probing insights left untouched by a timid public. How has our society, for instance, allowed testicle shaving to wax into the mundane? Are midgets really optimal for the making of Sleepy Time tea? And, of course, what would happen if the Gay Pride Parade were to take to the road, touring the Deep South?

With the release of his first album, Feeling Kinda Patton, comedian Patton Oswalt has answered these and many more burning, itching, uncomfortable quandaries. And yet, for all his insight into America as a retarded trust fund child, Oswalt admits most of his material is born on stage.

“I don’t actually sit and write,” he says. “It all comes from me talking onstage, writing as I speak, so that it sounds the way I talk when I talk. The audience lets me know when it’s something special. Sometimes an aside that isn’t even a punch line is the funniest thing in a bit, but you don’t know it ’till you say it.”

Come now, you scream impotently at the page (calm down reader, it’s all right), surely there has to be something held back in this first release, some tidbit simply too risque to find its way on to the record store shelves. You will not be denied!

“I blew out my pipes on the CD, and now I’m writing new stuff,” explains Oswalt, dispelling your immature tirade. “There’s talk about putting out a limited version of the uncut show. It was two and a half hours long, unedited.”

Pipes blown, it might seem that the veteran comic might has exhausted his creative juices, leaving them spent and hardening, unchanging.

“The permanence doesn’t bother me, because now I have to write new stuff, which if fun,” he says. “And, of course, when I say, ‘write’, I mean getting onstage and babbling until a bit comes of it.”

Despite 15 years as a comedian, Oswalt will remain to many as Spence Olchin on The King of Queens– a sidekick extraordinaire. Fortunately, maintaining versatility as a comedian and articulate obscenity-monger has allowed him to differentiate himself from his sit-com persona.

“It’s a funny, well-written show,” says Oswalt in defense of his bread-and-butter television show. “When I say ‘distance myself’, I mean that in the sense that what I do is more graphic and adult. I’m no funnier than most of the writers on King of Queens.

“Unfortunately, in this country, once you’re on TV, especially if you’re acting, people tend to believe what they see on the glowing box. So, to a lot of people, I’m Spence, and my comic sensibility must be the same as King of Queens. They don’t understand I’m an actor for hire.”

Actor, comedian, and Entertainment Weekly’s “It” comedian for 2002. He may be gifted with the ability to lambaste American foreign policy through simple comparisons to the mentally challenged and blessed with the praise of a premiere entertainment magazine, Oswalt remains humble.

“They made me a king,” he says magnanimously. “It’s nice being able to fuck anyone I want.”