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The Eastern Echo Sunday, June 16, 2024 | Print Archive
The Eastern Echo

Patton Oswalt's newest stand-up album a bit of a step down

Comedian Patton Oswalt released his first two stand-up albums, “222” and “Feelin’ Kinda Patton,” to little exposure. However, released on popular indie label Sub Pop, his 2007 album “Werewolves and Lollipops” went to #1 on Billboard’s Top Comedy Albums, establishing him as one of the finest stand-up comedians currently performing.

Since “Werewolves and Lollipops,” Oswalt has been constantly topping himself, with 2009’s “My Weakness is Strong” (released on Warner Bros.) and 2011’s “Finest Hour” (released on Comedy
Central Records) proving him to be consistently hilarious and enormously entertaining.

His new stand-up album, “Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time,” is a bit of a step down. It’s mainly being criticized for being more subdued, and that’s definitely an issue. The material is still funny, but none of it stands out in the way his bits about birthday parties and rats did on previous albums, and the album feels less full than “Finest Hour,” even though it’s only five minutes shorter.

But, like I said, the material is still good.

The two-part segment “I Am a Great Dad” and “I Am an Awful Dad,” as well as “Adorable Racism” offer observations about parenting on par with Louis C.K.’s, and “My Prostitute” is an example of the kind of self-deprecating humor that Oswalt does best.

Oswalt is most famous for voicing Remy in “Ratatouille,” as well as for his role on “The King of Queens.” He’s never let these career-making roles be forgotten in his stand-up routines, and here, the best moment revolves around just that.

On “Sellout,” Oswalt talks about his highest playing job ever, at a casino, where the show consisted of the drunk audience yelling out the titles of things they’d seen him in.

“I said to myself, ‘I just paid for one year of my daughter’s college, I did not tell a single joke and
I’ve never made an audience happier.’”

That joke ultimately proves why Oswalt is so enjoyable to listen to. He obviously loves being up on stage, even when he’s just complaining about life, or when he’s focusing on his mental illnesses (as he does on “Creative Depression”). It’s clear that the stage is where he’s most comfortable.

So, when he comes back for an encore at the end of the performance and comments on how cliché encores are, it’s as much a celebration of the cliché as it is a snarky comment on it. The encore, titled “Orudis Blampfortt,” consists of a long joke about the zoo and rose cultivation that is pretty bizarre and even sad, but it’s also pure Patton Oswalt.

Even if this album isn’t on par with his last few releases, it’s still a funny hour of stand-up. As for why he seems calmer and less angry, I think that his daughter, who he talks about a lot in this performance, may have something to do with it.

Grade: B PLUS