Werewolves and Lollipops
t’s true: comedians are assholes. On his DVD Let America Laugh, David Cross publicly insults and embarrasses the owner of the club he’s performing in. Zach Galifianakis regularly confronts and pokes fun at his audience members. Louis C.K. even goes so far as to call his four-year-old daughter a “fucking asshole.” And while all of these tricks of the trade are typically hilarious, one can’t help but cringe at what the recipient of these verbal beatdowns might be experiencing. Maybe not all comedians are pricks; Dane Cook is a pretty nice guy. He’s also not funny, and a giant douchetit to boot.
If there’s been any change in Patton Oswalt in the three years since his last album, Feelin’ Kinda Patton, it’s that he’s becoming a nicer guy. In many instances throughout the course of Werewolves and Lollipops, he quits poking fun at other people and focuses his scrutiny on himself. Dealing with his comic-book and science fiction-obsessed nerdiness, he recalls an encounter with a physics professor wherein he complains about a final exam problem that fails to correctly place the characters of Star Trek (“Physics for Poets”), and then follows it up with his own disappointment over the last three Star Wars films (“At Midnight I Will Kill George Lucas With a Shovel”). Describing his weight troubles, he touchingly details his own self-loathing among the beautiful celebrities at the Batman Begins premiere (“Beautiful People and a Bridge Troll”), only to find himself gloriously comforted by none other than Brian Dennehy with one of the album’s best lines (“Character actors! Who gives a fuck if we’re fat?!”). Later on, he sincerely recounts getting fired from Best Week Ever, only because he affectionately referred to Paris Hilton as “a cunt who should die of AIDS.”
OK, so maybe he hasn’t exactly been injected with cheerfulness, but it’s not like the album’s title minces words on what it advertises either. There are lollipops and werewolves about, which means that there are a fair share of people who receive a whipping from Oswalt’s notoriously sardonic witty whip. Among them: Kentucky Fried Chicken, whose Famous Bowls are dubbed “a failure pile in a sadness bowl”; Arch Campbell, his local film critic growing up, who trashes The Road Warrior but attributes the tag of “brilliant concept” to Three Men and a Baby; and, of course, Pro-Bush Americans, who puzzle him with their admiration for Cirque du Soleil, which Oswalt describes as “what a gay French dude sees in his head when he’s tired and horny.”
For the most part, however, Werewolves and Lollipops finds a gentler, less vitriolic Patton. Bush and Cheney, who were shredded to pieces on Feelin’ Kinda Patton, get compared to Dukes of Hazzard characters (“Can you believe these two guys covered up a child molester for five years?! Ain’t no way they’re gonna get themselves out of this bucket of syrup!”). Rather than lash out at obvious targets, he performs a clever bit about the absurdity of people who throw themselves birthday parties every year (“You Are Allowed 20 Birthday Parties”).
Yet where Werewolves and Lollipops finds its best balance of the scurrilous and the sincere is on the six-minute “I Tell a Story About Birth Control and Deal With a Retarted Heckler.” Finding a soft point in an emotional story about how him and his ex-girlfriend had to go get the morning-after pill, Oswalt is awkwardly yelped at by a childish audience member. Confused by a cheer during a vulnerable moment, and having his bit ruined, he proceeds to senselessly berate the audience member, endlessly calling him variations of “douche” and going so far as to tell him, “You’re gonna miss everything cool and die angry.”
While Werewolves loses some steam at the end, it’s a minor complaint on a much more well rounded, smoothly transitioned, and better-paced album than Feelin’ Kinda Patton. With his appearance in the new Pixar flick Ratatouille giving him a greater profile in the general public, Werewolves is a classic comedy album in that it captures a seasoned comedian at his prime, spectacularly displaying his trademarks while proving himself able to bring in audiences skeptical of his cynicism. Comedians are assholes; remember? But nobody said that they didn’t have to be nice guys too.