Music

Patton Oswalt: Feelin' Kinda Patton

Zeth Lundy

Patton Oswalt

Feelin' Kinda Patton

Label: United Musicians
US Release Date: 2004-06-29
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

Comedy is hard. I have great respect for the performer who gets up on stage alone, microphone in one hand and drink in the other, in an attempt to make a drunken audience laugh. Some comics opt for the easy route of clichéd dick and fart jokes to appeal to the lowest-common denominator; others elevate the art of joke-telling to subversive social commentary. Of course, the latter is the more fearless and desired of the scenarios, but one can't fault a comedian for falling back on safe material after sensing hostility in a crowd that clamors for mediocrity.

Comics like Patton Oswalt fall uncomfortably in between art and edifice, achieving a sort of stymied irreverence that doesn't always connect or satisfy. This is not to say that Oswalt isn't funny, for he's quite capable of inducing hearty belly laughs throughout his first comedy album, the recently released Feelin' Kinda Patton. But Oswalt is more of sprinter than a marathon runner, and therefore is more successful at bizarre, seemingly off-the-cuff bits than the stretched-out sections that slow the album's otherwise quick-witted flow.

The best moments on Feelin' Kinda Patton are those that don't feel too forced or wear out their welcome. Oswalt scores big on 1980s heavy metal videos ("Bands that rocked so hard, they could change the physical properties of things!"), TiVo ("Greater than even the gift of life!"), parenting ("Be a boring parent so that your kids will hate you and become cool!"), President Bush ("I really think he can get us into the apocalypse"), and peaks with exaggerating the confrontational ads of the Black Angus restaurant chain. He can get an inspired, almost manic riff going that's highly effective, especially when he moves swiftly between topics. His random visions of the apocalypse (which includes Avril Lavigne and the Good Will Hunting screenplay) and ironic insights into the mixed messages inherent in liquor ads are also highlights. It's only when he gets stuck on a topic for too long (a lunatic comedian he watched in Toronto, slowing down an Alvin and the Chipmunks LP, Robert Evans' ESPN ads) that he loses speed and the listener's attention.

Oswalt's got a couple of repetitive obsessions that are immediately problematic. First, he's in heated pursuit of the title of Analogy King: too many of his jokes hide their punchlines in a tacked-on analogy. After you've heard "...that's kinda like" used in abundance on every other joke, it becomes more of an expected crutch and loses any intended impact. Secondly, he takes any chance he can get to imitate the stereotypical Down's syndrome voice for a joke's big payoff, and the fact that he does it often is uncomfortably off-putting. Don't misunderstand me here: I'm all for comics with edgy material and a disregard for the stifling politically correct atmosphere of the 21st Century, but the problem here is that Oswalt seems to derive great pleasure from just aping the voice.

Oswalt has seen his notoriety increase in the last couple of years and is finally coming to be known as Patton Oswalt the Stand-Up Comedian (he who opened for Aimee Mann and Michael Penn on the couple's 2000 Acoustic Vaudeville Tour) rather than simply Patton Oswalt the Guy I Can Sorta Place When I See Him But I Don't Know His Name (he who has a regular role on the TV show King of Queens and small roles in films like Magnolia and Starsky and Hutch). Feelin' Kinda Patton is a bid to help boost his stand-up profile, and it does a reasonable job of representing where he presently stands. Oswalt certainly has the promise to deliver an entire set of solid comedy, but right now he's only halfway there.

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Keep reading... Show less

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less
3

Gabin's Maigret lets everyone else emote, sometimes hysterically, until he vents his own anger in the final revelations.

France's most celebrated home-grown detective character is Georges Simenon's Inspector Jules Maigret, an aging Paris homicide detective who, phlegmatically and unflappably, tracks down murderers to their lairs at the center of the human heart. He's invariably icon-ified as a shadowy figure smoking an eternal pipe, less fancy than Sherlock Holmes' curvy calabash but getting the job done in its laconic, unpretentious, middle-class manner.

Keep reading... Show less
5
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image