Monday Sep. 05th, 2011

Patton Oswalt, My Friends! Watch his Special

I started standup Feb, 28,1989 at the Holy City Zoo in San Francisco. I was on 35th. The guy before me, Mel, panicked and ran off stage never to be seen again. Seriously, never seen again. I took the stage. I killed. I did. Sure I only did three minutes out of my allotted five and if you put a gun to my head I couldn't tell you what I said but I know I'd ask you "Why do you have a gun to my head? It can't be that important! I HAVE A FAMILY" I'm certain what I did was "weird" had very few hard jokes and ended in screaming. Everyone has a formula. That one's mine...and that other guy that wears the wrist cuffs. My best comedy friend, Laura Milligan (Now a singer/performer in Maynard James Keenan's Puscifer) started doing standup the very next week and had similar great results. For a short moment we became the new darlings of the open mic comedy scene San Francisco. It was nice. We were treated to lot of french fries and Jager shots. In fact all of San Francisco's comedy open mic elite were living on a happy, happy cloud of booze, fried food, and denial. That is until Patton Oswalt showed up and ruined it for everyone... with his jokes.Now of course this might be a wild over statement of the arrival of Mr. Oswalt and what was happening in SF in the early 90's (and really just my personal experience of it). But it was a scene to be sure. Margaret Cho was killing it, as were other comics like Dana Gould, Kevin Kataoka, Alex Reid,Tony Camin, Jovanka Steele, Ed Marques and of course the stellar Greg Proops. Marc Maron, Blaine Capatch, Brian Posehn (who I love) had all just unpacked their bags for a stay in hipsterville and would soon be joined by Mitch Hedberg, Tommy Rhodes and very briefly Dan Whitney AKA Larry The Cable Guy. Lank and Earl, Bob Rubin, Geoff Bolt, Tree, Jeremy Kramer Sue Murphy, David Felman, Marty Maceda,Ray James and Michael Meehan were the kings of the Holy City Zoo, the towns tiniest but most important room for new comics. Patton's arrival sent a ripple though the puddle of funny for a few of reasons. Unlike most of us he was openly ambitious, stupidly young, oddly cute and funny in a way that makes comics mad at you and themselves. Now let me explain all of that because it doesn't sound complimentary but it's meant to be. For real no one was actually mad at Patton, on most days at least. But you have to remember that the early 90's was the era of the "slacker" and there were no greater practitioners of the "slack" than the coffee n' tequila swilling, alt music listening, serial killer loving, apathy courting, open mic comics of San Francisco and later Los Angeles. So when I say Patton was ambitious I mean to say Patton seemed to have a plan, a goal, perhaps a vision board, a chicken foot, and a prayer mat. I can't say for sure. Let's just accept that Patton had a dream, and I assume that dream was, besides just sticking it to some asswipes from high school, to be a fucking great standup comdian, maybe the greatest, and to be IN actual show business. The kind that Don Rickles, Richard Pryor, Albert Brooks, Joan Rivers, Steve McQueen and John Fucking Davidison were in. You know, movies, tv, standup specials, etc. For that you had to put forth an effort, which in the early 90's, wasn't easy to do in front of or around this particular crowd. Shit you might as well have said "I wanna get me some AIDS!" than actually admit it would be "...cool to be on a sitcom." (Which it is by the way. Ask anyone who's been on one...including David Cross) Most of us would do sets in laundromats, drink like we'd just won EMMYS, and then complain about our undiscovered genius and how fucked everyone that wasn't us really was. It wasn't that Patton wasn't angry it was that he was proactive about it. The distinction between Patton's ambition and others (we all had it but it was dormant) is that he put that ambition directly into his standup comedy writing. Patton would show up with new bit with all of his stupid...

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