Friday, April 18, 2014

Patton Oswalt's "Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time"


I’m a fan of Patton Oswalt. I have been ever since I first listened to “Feelin’ Kinda Patton.” From there it’s been good times all the way and his subsequent albums never failed to live up to the comedy bar he had set for himself (and trust me, he set the bar pretty high). So, the question is, does his new project, “Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time,” live up to the rest of an already stellar discography? Let me answer the question I posed to myself with another question: Is Orudis Blampfortt a horrible name for a person? And flower?

Everything you’ve come to know and love about Oswalt’s comedy, I am happy to report, is still very much alive and kicking. When viewing Oswalt’s personal life from afar and how it feeds into his comedy, it’s a bit amusing to see how he’s evolved. If you were to tell 2004 Oswalt that 2014 Oswalt would be doing bits about raising his scooter-loving daughter while delicately balancing accidental sightings of The Wolfman with Schoolhouse Rock, he might cut you off, letting out a horrible scream before breaking into the gnashing of teeth. If, though, you were to assure 2004 Oswalt that 2014 Oswalt hasn’t lost a bit of his edge and his bite still….has bite…then I think he’d be OK (Just don’t tell 2004 Oswalt that 2014 Oswalt has come to accept all forms of music. I don’t know how to explain that away).

Don’t let that last paragraph make you think Oswalt’s material is now all playground adventures and dancing before bedtime. There’s an incredible story of his sort-of encounter with a prostitute that ends…well…not how you think it will end and his line about the only reason to visit Florida (I won’t spoil it by saying it here), is so simultaneously beautiful and groan-inducing…it was like an angel came down and touched my iPod. So be assured, Oswalt-ians (I have no idea what Oswalt fans call themselves, but from now on, they’re Oswalt-ians), your hero has not sold out. Well, he sort of has, and his 11-minute chunk on just how he did it is incredible. And sort of makes me want to figure out how to book myself at the Tulalip Resort Casino because if that’s selling out, then consider me sold.

While I listened to the CD my only complaint was the handful of visual punchlines that didn’t translate to an audio format. I wondered what the audience was laughing at and, no matter what I imagined in my head, nothing struck me quite as funny as what Oswalt seemed to be doing (That’s why he’s the one being booked at the Tulalip Resort Casino and not me). Truth be told, though, I really have no room to complain because this is a CD/DVD combo and after listening I watched the video and was able to enjoy the show in its entirety. And - just as I suspected - Oswalt’s reactions and expressions were much funnier than anything I envisioned.

If you’re a fan of Oswalt and you don’t already have this project in your collection, I’d like to encourage you to pick yours up. And if you’re unfamiliar with Oswalt and his comedy, then I would say to you, “Really?” And then I would encourage you to pick it up, too. 


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