August 2, 2007

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Patton Oswalt, Lollipops and Werewolves
Sub Pop, July 10, 2007
Peppering your off-color rantings on American hegemony with Green Lantern referances is a straight line to my heart.

Patton Oswalt, of Ratatouille, Reno 911 and Comedians of Comedy fame, lays down 20-odd tracks of blue material ranging from Kentucky Fried Chicken to the war in Iraq without missing a beat. Comedy albums frequently suffer from niche-oriented material recorded in front of a seemingly hand-picked audience — and while the Austin, Texas, show caught here has obvious liberal leanings, Oswalt’s humor is wide enough to endear him to all but the archest of conservatives. His bitingly satiric assaults on suburbia, racism and the refinements of the American appetite are sprinkled with just enough pop reference material. The asides to comic book geekery, post-punk music and underground film tweak and uplift his act. Smartly, these allusions stand alongside his central concepts, never keystoning the bit. Where many comedians would make this multi-media esoterica the focus of their act, Oswalt wields his nerd acumen to add flourish to his hammy anguish. Sure, he’s an angry, flustered spaz but his act finds meat on the old comedy bones of marriage, kids, food and idiots. Oswalt truly shines in his goofy assertions of his schlubiness and his critical understanding of the failure of conventional humor and entertainment. As he confesses his ongoing love for crazy artists of any medium (from writers to musicians to chefs) we can recognize the traits that his media heroes possess bubbling underneath his persona. He’s an envelope-pusher, not because of his ‘cussin, but because he explicitly questions the very tenets of humor and its place in society. Plus, Bush and Cheney as the modern incarnation of the Dukes of Hazzard is about the funniest allegory I’ve ever heard. A-Glenn Given