Patton Oswalt

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Regular viewers of CBS programming have known Patton Oswalt as Spence Olchin, the loveable character he portrayed on the CBS sitcom King of Queens since 1998. This past weekend, his starring role in the latest Pixar film, Ratatouille debuted at the number one box office spot on its opening weekend raking in more than 47 million dollars. With over a decade of television credits to his name and the number one movie in America, Oswalt’s fans lie in both mainstream America and the die-hard staunchly independent music fans from coast to coast, as this coming July 10th Sub Pop Records will release his second proper comedy album, Werewolves and Lollipops. IMPOSE was able to catch Patton on the phone in early June 2007 during the beginning of his recent press junket.

So was Sub Pop the only label that approached you, or were there other offers?

Patton: Yeah, a few of them did, but so many of my favorite albums were on Sub Pop it was for me, like, I just wanted to do it ya know?

It seems like Matador would’ve been a great fit for you as well?

Patton: Yeah, I love Matador Records.

So how long ago was this record planned?

Patton: I wasn’t trying to spring it on anybody; but I did the first album and that one was from a 2 ½ hour show, and because I put the 2 ½ as kind of a bonus thing, I wanted to take sometime to work on completely new material. I think what messed me up was that Comedy Central hour-special I did. So I wanted to do all new stuff that really wasn’t on the special either, so I just really wanted to take my time and do something really airtight and good. I didn’t want to have like, a sophomore slump I guess?

When I spoke with Brian and Zach, they both mentioned how you’re constantly writing tons of new material.

Patton: Gee, thanks.

Do you feel that you write a lot and how does your own personal process go about developing new ideas?

Patton: Again, my process and I wish I had a different one sometimes; I just go onstage a lot and try to keep churning out stuff until I whittle down exactly what it is I want.

Was there anything that didn’t make the cut on Werewolves and Lollipops? Like timely subject manner ripped from the headlines?

Patton: I don’t really rip stuff from the headlines I more so rip it from my daily life.

Well, like the KFC sadness bowls, that was a huge item last year and you commented on that. Was there anything else that wasn’t included in the scope of things?

Patton: Umm? I don’t know? For the most part, the stuff that I don’t do it’s not like it’s a whole developed bit that I then go, “Nah!” I’m just kind of half developing it and then along the way it just doesn’t really go anywhere, or I just file it away for later. So I’m not really conscious of what I leave off the albums, ya know? For the most part I try to make it as close to the actual show and live experience for both me and the audience as I possibly can.

About how often do you go up on average every week in Los Angeles?

Patton: I try to do three or four a week, and then especially when I’m touring I’m always writing new stuff when I’m out on the road working on new things. So it’s not like a set discipline, because to me I like going on stage, it’s not like work it’s like “Yay!” I get to go blow off steam for a little bit. Again it’s not something that I keep myself all that aware of.

Well it’s definitely not exactly like you’re doing stand up to pay the rent anymore.

Patton: No, but it’s good to know [stand-up] is there, when I go through lean times, or when there’s a lot of projects I’m just not interested in. Right now, knock on wood I’m lucky enough to if there’s movies or TV shows, and I’m like, “Aw fuck I don’t like these,” I can go earn money doing stand up, so I’m very, very lucky in that respect.

Now that King of Queens is over, with such a big chunk of your life gone and down, what are you doing during the day know?

Patton: I miss King of Queens, it was really fun, but now I’m promoting a movie and I got this album coming out, so trust me I’m plenty busy. I’m on a press junket tour this entire month for a movie that comes out at the end of the month so it’s not like I’m not doing anything.

Yeah, there’s a line off your new album where you talk about a woman’s vagina looking like, “a rat in a rain storm.” Was that in any direct correlation with Ratatouille?

Patton: No I wrote that bit right before I got Ratatouille. That was just the universe lining up.

You referenced the Pixies quite/loud dynamic in regards to the rhythm of stand up comedy, all while doing crowd work on a drunken heckler.

Patton: Well yeah, I had just seen that Pixies documentary. Certainly that’s not something I think about in my comedy but it was all happening in the moment as I was yelling at that guy.

It’s such a great analogy between a great example of live music and live stand up comedy, where it’s about rhythm and timing and. . .

Patton: Good stand up comedy is based on that, a lot of it is just screaming all the way throughout. There are no nuances, it doesn’t build anything, because the comedian doesn’t trust the audience to actually just sit and listen to them. They’re just like, “Oh I gotta go out there and yell and scream.”

Like Donkey Kong throwing kegs at people.

Patton: Exactly. But if you listen to classic Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor, it’s like music ya know? With the different levels and when they quiet the audience down, I love stuff like that.

There’s a definite dialog between them and the audience.

Patton: Well not even a dialog, it’s the comedian is like, “I am taking you somewhere and you’re in good hands. So just everyone calm down and know that this is going somewhere.” And that heckler was just an example of guy that cannot handle silence. It just freaks him out.

So had that ever occurred to you about the loud/quite dynamic between the Pixies and good stand up comedy before?

Patton: No. It wasn’t until that very moment. If I hadn’t watched that documentary that day, I probably would’ve made a different correlation, but that was still very fresh in my mind. Even if you’re in a really fun and cool city, and you’re doing a show that a lot of people are going to, then there’s people that just like to go to a show because a lot of people are there. There’s a b-side on a Melvin’s 7” for a thing I do called the two dumbest cunts in the world at another Austin show, where these girls were at the show because the show was really crowded, and “I go where all the people go, because I want to be popular.” And then they’ll just sit there on the cell phone the whole time. And that’s a show, and it’s really packed and they never once listened to me and I just started ripping into them. It’s somewhere on eBay.

How was your experience at Coachella being the first comedians to perform there?

Patton: It was so sweet, we were so worried and we go out there and the crowds were so nice. They all scooted back for each other so the people in the front could sit down, and still see over the barriers. I can’t gush about it enough, it went so much better than I though it would.

Would you ever want to do a multi media tour with comics and musicians?

Patton: No. I would rather just do stand up. I don’t mind opening for a band every now and then, but I think combining them is too different, you just either have to do one or the other.

A great example I always use when mixing stand up and rock music is Yo La Tengo’s Chanukah shows at Maxwell’s in Hoboken.

Patton: Yeah but that’s not a tour, that’s like a specific show at very small club and everyone knows what they’re getting in to. But if you tour night after night, it’s gonna become really disastrous.

Is today the first day of your press junket?

Patton: Yesterday was all day nine to five, and today is all day.

What’d you do last night to unwind?

Patton: I went to the Punchline and did a set. I’m doing one tonight too.

Are you going to make it out to Comic Con this July? I’m looking forward to Tim and Eric’s Awesome-Com this year.

Patton: Oh god, how fucking funny is their show? Oh fuck, that thing kills me. There’s times I laugh so hard I think I’m going to fucking throw up. Remember that one with Maria Bamford doing the hand lotion with that woman? And then she has that meltdown. Did you see that episode?

No I work nights so I’m catching up on a lot of stuff I’ve been missing out from the hours of 8-12 PM.

Patton: Go on iTunes and just download all the episodes, they’re only eleven minutes long a piece.

I catch them on Youtube.

Patton: Just go to iTunes and download them.

I don’t have iTunes on my computer.

Patton: Then go to Youtube.

When I talked to you a few years ago, I asked if you had a message for the children? Your response was, “Work hard for the adults. Make things easier for us, because I’m for the motherfucking adults I’m not for the children. You know what I believe my future is? Me being comfortable and happy. That’s what my future is.” Is that still your answer if I were to ask you that same question now?

Patton: You know what? I’m gonna shake things up, and now I’m against adults and for children. And trust me guys it’ll change. It’ll change if you fuck up.