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Monday, Feb. 22, 2010

Patton Oswalt @ The Pabst Theater

Comedy Review

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Not since 1992 has Milwaukee had the pleasure of hosting comedian Patton Oswalt. His recent performance at the Pabst Theater on February 20 was far from his visit to Sir Laughs-A-Lot, a “comedy club” under the stairs of a hotel. Never heard of Patton Oswalt? Not for long. This indie comic seems to be breaking free of the reputation as “that guy from that show I saw once.” With specials on Comedy Central, comedy albums, and the role of Spencer on The King of Queens, Oswalt is building a comedy empire. He also has the show The Comedians of Comedy, and guest appearances as a delusional Dungeons and Dragons fan on Reno 911.

Cracking jokes about being overweight and making references to Star Wars is only a bit of what the man has to offer. Oswalt is shameless when it comes to tirelessly putting down restaurants like Black Angus, Yoshinoya Beef Bowl and Kentucky Fried Chicken. He touched on his early career opening for a comedy magician who “hate fucked the audience for ten minutes” after being stiffed out of five dollars. And, of course, he took a little time to talk politics, focusing on the country’s favorite rogue, Sarah Palin, and the gay marriage controversy.

However, the old jokes about smoking pot in Amsterdam, missing ‘80s metal, and hating “tambourine banging” hippies have been replaced by bits about being a new dad and the glory of sweatpants and flip-flops. But don’t think Oswalt has softened. Even though not too long ago he said a baby is really only “a shirtless, bald human being with a bag of its own crap tied around its waist,” Oswalt didn’t disappoint. He kept it real nice and adult with jokes about saving money on drugs by hallucinating from lack of sleep, and touring a house with his wife shortly after an orgy took place.

In typical Milwaukee style, people started shouting out what jokes they wanted to hear towards the end of the show. Oswalt hid his annoyance by playing along and joking about being too old to remember. He even got a round of applause when he told a particularly loud fan, “You can’t yell out the punch line!”

Along with touring, Oswalt has been busy since his comedy album My Weakness is Strong came out and his indie flick Big Fan premiered. The movie, which made its way to Milwaukee’s film festival back in fall, is on the circuit of film festivals, and was even named an “Official Selection” at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. The dark comedy shows the turmoil of Paul Aufiero, a religiously devoted New York Giants fan whose football bubble bursts after a sighting of the Giants linebacker Quantrell Bishop (Jonathan Hamm) turns violent. With tough family drama, a public legal battle, and a much anticipated game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Aufiero must reevaluate everything he holds dear.

But Oswalt wasn’t the only entertainment on Saturday night. One person to keep an eye on is comedian Kyle Kinane. The show opener also didn’t spare eating establishments when he talked about the absurdity of a pizza place by his house having a four and a half foot-long pizza. His tales of Las Vegas shenanigans and his hate for Southwest Airlines could have easily went hack, but he pulled out fresh material that kept the audience going.

Photo by Cj Foeckler

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