Feelin’ Kinda Patton
atton Oswalt is best known for his supporting role on the CBS comedy, The King of Queens. But don't hold that against him; that's just his day job. His real job is stand-up, and he does this better than just about anyone else. I've been a fan of his since I first saw his HBO special back in 1997 and spent the succeeding month memorizing his "piss drinker" magazine editor soliloquy ("my great-grandfather had a dream…"). Hence, I've been waiting for a very long time for Oswalt to come out with an album. Finally, it's here, and I'm happy to say, it was worth the wait.
Feelin' Kinda Patton was recorded in late 2003 at the 40 Watt Club in Athens, Georgia. Oswalt notes in interviews that he was drinking wine throughout the set, so that by the end he was completely wasted. If that's true, then he's a pretty sober drunk, as his material at the end of the album is as sharp and as intelligent as the stuff at the beginning.
Oswalt is, first and foremost, smart; this comes out not only in the rich variety of topics he covers in his sets but in the intelligent, surreal wordplay that he often indulges (like when he describes the apocalypse as volcanoes spewing menstrual blood in the shape of Avril Lavigne's face). Yes, he tells the occasional midget joke, but his midget jokes are not only funny but also weird—and, to me, comedy isn't comedy unless it's twisting your brain with weirdness. Or, as he says, "If you hit a midget on the head with a stick, he turns into 40 gold coins."
The key to Oswalt's comedy, however, is his ability to articulate an idea in a cogent, insightful, twisted, and funny way. The "piss drinker" story I mention above (which is included here) is a good example. He notes that we all have deep, dark sexual turn-ons that we would never reveal even to our closest partners. Hence, he continues, what's amazing about pornography is that there's a magazine devoted just to that turn on. This means that the thing you think of as the most deviant, exotic, exciting thing in the world is someone's stupid job. So he goes into the mind of the guy who works at this magazine: saying goodbye to the kids in the morning, yelling at his staff, fretting over layout designs, and so on. It's a smart concept. However, what my words can't divulge is the humor that Oswalt packs into the idea. This is one of the funniest comedy bits I've ever heard.
Luckily, there other bits on Feelin' Kinda Patton that are just as insightful and just as funny. Among the highlights here are his rebuke of hippies and their boring kids, his condemnation of American culture ("America is like a giant, retarded trust-fund kid with nuclear weapons"), and the wonders of 80s metal videos (especially the ones where the band is able to change the physical properties of things simply by the power of their rockin'). I also like his idea for people who buy Humvees (they can buy the cars, but they have to go to Iraq and find the oil on their own).
Patton Oswalt is one of the funniest people alive. This is his first album. Get it. What more can I say?
Reviewed by: Michael Heumann
Reviewed on: 2004-07-09