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Patton Oswalt

  • Orpheum 216 State Street Madison, WI, 53703 United States (map)

Patton Oswalt began performing stand-up during the seemingly prehistoric comedy boom of the late 1980s and early '90s, and over time he honed an amiable but surreal style that affectionately harnesses the frivolity and satirical potential of pop culture. This is perhaps best exemplified by his 2013 appearance on Parks And Recreation. Yeah, it's a dated reference for a show preview in 2017, but that's the point: Oswalt's oft-dissected, -celebrated, -mocked and completely improvised filibuster in that sitcom about J.J. Abrams helming the Disney-acquired Star Wars has proved prescient and ironic for reasons best left dissecting in greater detail in a Ph.D. thesis. "In character," Oswalt foresaw the rise of needlessly malleable crossovers bridging intellectual properties stuffing movie theaters today that, back then, seemed a little far-fetched. Oswalt, of course, has no shortage of other credits pointing to his range, passion, and nuance (Ratatouille likely to be the one most widely known), but the point is this: Oswalt is a smart comedian who doesn't mistake his astuteness or deftness for coolness. He's still unafraid to geek out, be more honest than the comedians he's usually lumped in with, and reliably point out that you can know a ton about pop culture and still have a brain and heart. Oswalt has also been doing a lot of healing and processing in public since his wife, Michelle McNamara, died suddenly in February 2016, just before the release of his Netflix special Talking For Clapping. That might make a stand-up show feel strange or uncomfortable right now, but the genuine warmth and openness Oswalt has always brought to his work should light the way for him and the audience alike. —David Wolinsky