On his 2011 album Finest Hour, Patton Oswalt semi-accurately summarized our fair city: “Don't get me wrong, New York is a great place to visit. But if you live there full time, it turns your skull into a cage, and your brain into a rat and the city is just a stick poking the rat all day.” Despite his hilariously traumatic experiences here, he’ll return on November 3rd for a stand-up performance at the Beacon Theatre as part of New York Comedy Festival.
Though Oswalt’s year has been marked with the tragic and sudden passing of his wife in April, which he chillingly recounted in the NY Times recently, it has nevertheless been peppered with beautiful moments, be it a spot in a Weezer video, an Emmy win for his Netflix special, and one of the best celebratory photos in years. He will also be featured in the Orlando benefit comic Love is Love and will be seen in the upcoming Netflix reboot of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Though he was justifiably guarded about both his losses and his new endeavors, we were lucky to talk to Oswalt over the phone recently about our nightmare election.
I wanted to start off by talking about a tweet you put out in June: “Dear 2016: You are a 100% shit year. In every aspect: personal, professional, emotional, historical, moral, cultural & rational. Fuck you.” Four months later, how true does this still hold for you? (audible sigh) I mean... the fact that we’re, as you and I speak right now, fifteen, sixteen days from the election where this overqualified person has to fight over the future of America with this frighteningly unqualified...I don’t even want to refer to him as a Republican, because most Republicans hate him… just this black sheep of where our country’s gotten to at this point. Despite the little spikes of good here and there, it’s been a pretty crappy year. A lot of wrong turns got made, and hopefully we can laugh at it and steer back in the right direction, but who knows?
Throughout this whole election, I kept thinking of your old bits about Bush and how he might bring us the Biblical apocalypse, and maybe it’s just because I’m older and paying more attention to it now, people seem just as worried that Trump may actually do it. He’s the one to pull it off. I’ll give Bush credit—if he was going to carry out a Biblical apocalypse, he’d actually do it by the book. Trump’s Biblical apocalypse would be sloppy—and he only read the first couple paragraphs—and fall apart and reformulate and the demons would end up getting pissed off. Like, the whole thing would suck. It’s just mediocre! It’s mediocre shittiness. It makes me miss the competent shittiness of George W. Bush.
You’ve also said that you hope that he does stay in the race. Oh yeah, because of all the damage that he’ll do to the truly shitty aspects of the Republican Party. Especially the Alt-Right, and all this faux-rebellious young conservative bullshit, he’ll end up tearing it all down. I so hope he starts Trump TV, because he’ll take Breitbart down with him. Anyone he gets in league with, he costs them everything going forward. He’s like this beautiful missile of failure and everyone that tries to use him...he’s like a monkey’s paw! Everyone that has to rickshaw him or get something out of him has just been destroyed. Look at the people he’s destroyed—his allies! The people who align themselves with him get destroyed! It’s perfect! [Paul] Ryan, [Chris] Christie, Billy Bush, it’s just...mwah!
For myself, I get very tired of the relentless coverage, and yet something happens, like that Al Smith dinner, that just makes me enjoy it so much more again. It’s such an accurate representation of how two-faced it all is. Yeah. And also, it just shows you that he’s one of those guys who feels entitled to be good at everything. I mean, he tries, but he’s not good at anything. Like, literally, anything. “Oh, if you fail, that’s because the whole system is stupid. It’s not me, who’s the best!” He’s like all these guys who come to L.A. and who wanna make it and are really just mediocre and go to parties and they don’t actually put in the work, and five years later they’re like “L.A. sucks.” No, you just didn’t put in the fucking work, dude. That’s why you failed.
It’s also interesting because I think of your bits when people say “When Trump wins, Thunderdome will be the law,” because you use a lot of Mad Max and Escape From New York imagery, especially since all that climate change stuff they warned us about has really been starting to happen. We’re past those signs! They’re not starting to happen, and God knows what’s gonna happen next because we’re too busy talking about all this other bullshit.
I’m very delighted to hear you’ll be doing a piece for your friend Marc Andreyko’s benefit comic. Yeah, that was nice, I was flattered he asked me.
Are you able to give any hints or a little preview of what you’ll be doing for it? In the comic? (pause) No. That’s the whole fun of it!
I appreciate that. Do you want to be doing more comics-related stuff in the future? If I get a good enough idea, sure. I just don’t know what that would be yet.
For this year, when did you know it was time this year to get back to working on stuff again? I don’t know. I don’t know when I’ll get back to working on stuff again. It’ll happen when it happens. I’ve kinda given up planning for a while. I’m just gonna let things happen when they happen.