Humor Can Be Funny
Patton Oswalt is hilarious. This isn't a critical observation but rather an objective fact. If you don't find Patton Oswalt funny, there's something terribly wrong with you. Just kidding.
No, seriously, if you haven't seen Oswalt's Comedy Central special No Reason to Complain, you should get someone to TiVo it for you. The bit on his secret desire for George W. Bush to go ahead and bring about the "biblical apocalypse," complete with nightmarish poetic imagery involving volcanoes spewing menstrual blood, "sentient razorblades" and a satanic Avril Lavigne is not only gut-bustingly hysterical but has also landed the King of Queens co-star on a few Christian-right-enemies lists, always a PR plus. Some of the same material is included on his Feelin' Kinda Patton CD, but see the special if you can, because the guy's facial expressions and half-spritely/half-dour physical presence add hugely to the overall joke-to-laugh ratio. Or you could just head out to Mary Jane's Fat Cat Friday night for the Houston stop of the "Comedians of Comedy" tour.
"It's frustrating just doing comedy clubs all the time," says an affable Oswalt into his cell phone in Burbank, California. "What with drink minimums, bad food, jacked-up prices and all that. We thought if we toured some smaller rock clubs, we could get in front of some of the younger fans who we really want to reach, but who don't generally go to shitty comedy clubs. This way it's more of an event, not just five nights in one place with no real control on our part. With the tour, we get to set ticket prices, play with the comedians we want to play with and just have more fun all around."
Right-wingers aren't the only targets on Oswalt's firing range. His real, uncured hatred is for hippies ("I think I enjoy eating steak more than I actually enjoy it, because I know that every time you eat a steak a hippie's Hacky Sack lands in the gutter") and the uptight children of hippies, whom he credits with ruining all the fun for the rest of us with their prissy, politically correct ways. And his, um, speculative routine about "retarded gay people" is as screamingly funny as it is unforgivably tasteless. Now that's comedy. On top of his sitcom gig, Oswalt's been in a few movies, most bizarrely in the surreal prologue section of P.T. Anderson's Magnolia as the scuba diver who winds up hanging in the branches of a tree. "Everything else I do, all the acting and sitcom stuff, is really just a means to the end of being able to keep doing stand-up. One supports the other," he says.
Fans of HBO's legendarily defunct Mr. Show with Bob and David should be thrilled to know that the "Comedians of Comedy" tour also features Brian Posehn, perhaps better known as "that tall, slouching, bald guy with the thick glasses and nasal voice who wears a lot of flannel and radiates lethal venom." You also might recognize him from Just Shoot Me, where he spent five years playing Kevin. Posehn was responsible for the Mr. Show heavy-metal send-up wherein the fictional metal band Titanica's song "Try Suicide" inspires a young fan to soak himself in a vat of acid. The kid survives, and the band pays a visit to his charred body in the hospital, ultimately dedicating a new tune called "Adam's Song (Try Again)" to the hideously defleshed teenager. Obviously, Posehn is not a comedian we can expect to play friendly. The same can be said for Zach Galifianakis, who is renowned for melding his prepared material with hostile interactive "riffing" with audience members.
The Comedians of Comedy already have been documented for posterity in a concert film of the same name, bankrolled by Netflix and to be released on DVD sometime this year. In addition to Oswalt, Posehn and Zach G., the movie includes the hilarious Maria Bamford, who won't be at the Houston show. "Maria's in Australia right now and she's utterly irreplaceable," says Oswalt, "so we decided not to replace her." (Those wanting a small dose of Maria anyway can call her "storyphone" at 323-960-4481.)
So let me get this straight: three hilarious, uncompromising, nationally renowned, up-and-coming comedians for $15 at Mary Jane's Fat Cat? This has got to be some kind of joke.
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