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Creator / Patton Oswalt

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Pictured: A drunken halfling.

"Bring forth my doom-spawn from your stink-crevice AND PROVE THE GYPSY WRONG!"
Patton Oswalt's way of announcing his wife's pregnancy to an audience.

Patton Oswalt (born January 27, 1969) is an American stand-up comic and actor, known for his "nerd-philosopher" comedic style, and working with fellow alternative comedians such as Brian Posehn, David Cross, Zach Galifianakis, Maria Bamford, and Blaine Capatch. He has a daughter named Alice, and was married to crime writer Michelle McNamara, until she suddenly passed away in April 2016. In 2017 he married actress Meredith Salenger.

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    Comedy albums 
  • 222 (2003)
  • Feelin' Kinda Patton (2004)
  • Werewolves and Lollipops (2007)
  • My Weakness Is Strong (2009)
  • Finest Hour (2011)
  • Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time (2014)
  • Talking for Clapping (2016)

    Comedy specials 
  • HBO Half Hour Comedy Hour (1997)
  • Comedy Central Presents (1999)
  • Patton Oswalt: No Reason to Complain (2006)
  • Patton Oswalt: My Weakness Is Strong (2009)
  • Patton Oswalt: Finest Hour (2011)
  • Patton Oswalt: Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time (2014)
  • Patton Oswalt: Talking for Clapping (2016)
  • Patton Oswalt: Annihilation (2017)
  • Patton Oswalt: I Love Everything (2020)
  • Patton Oswalt: We All Scream (2022)


    Film and television roles 

    Video game roles 

    Theme park attraction roles 

This comedian's material contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Abominable Auditorium: Once recounted an incident in which he and his brother got drunk and decided to see Jerry Maguire at the (now closed) Galaxy Multiplex, which he refers to as "The Crappiest Theatre in LA," featuring such things as choppy prints, meth addicts and public urination. On Christmas Eve, there were only eight other customers in the building - and because of this, nothing went wrong... right up until Patton's brother lost his temper and screamed "FUCK YOU!" at Tom Cruise.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: One segment of My Weakness Is Strong has him talk about people who are "b-word" fat, meaning you can just hear it in their voice when they say words that start with 'b', then goes into a sentence that qualifies for this trope.
  • The Alcoholic: Tends to be drunk on his comedy albums, and often does bits about drinking and being drunk. He stops a bit to have the server refill his Merlot and opens one album by saying: "I'm drunk. Here we go."
  • The Anti-Nihilist: Patton talks about his first wife developing this mentality in Annihilation. As a true crime writer, one of the things that absolutely annoyed her was the phrase "everything happens for a reason." According to Patton, she insisted that the world was pure chaos, and that good or bad things were mostly just luck; the only way to stave off some of the darkness was to be kind to everyone. She later condensed it into a Survival Mantra: "it's chaos, be kind." Patton points out that she won the argument "in the shittiest way possible" by unexpectedly dying.
  • Apocalypse Wow: One bit about how much cooler people who died in the apocalypse would be compared to those that died more mundane deaths in heaven.
  • Ascended Fanboy:
    • He got to write a Justice League one-shot comic called JLA: Welcome to the Working Week, and it's pure background-reference continuity porn.
    • He absolutely leaped at the offer to play TV's son of TV's Frank on the revival of Mystery Science Theater 3000, telling Joel Hodgson on Twitter that "I am ready to push the button."
  • The Atoner: After a lifetime of making fun of and sneering at people who wear sweatpants in public, he had a kid. Suddenly he totally understood, and dedicated a bit to how wonderful sweatpants are.
  • Awful Wedded Life: His take on two characters in a Stella D'Oro breakfast treats commercial is of a married couple who bitterly hate each other. The wife is cheating on the husband with the pool boy, and the husband says his wife's vagina is "a baby's coffin".
  • Bait-and-Switch Comparison: Brilliantly done in this series of tweets.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Plagiarism. In 2010, he had bits of his stolen by both an upstart comedian and a Columbia University valedictorian. Internet based smackdowns ensued.
    • Also, do not call him a "Sad Clown." He really hates the distinction.
    • Also, don't interrupt his set - you might find yourself on the receiving end of an Overly Long Gag if you do.
    • On a less funny note, insulting or dismissing his late wife Michelle McNamara is a good way to make Patton genuinely mad, to the point that he's threatened legal retribution against people who take it too far.
  • Big, Fat Future: A side joke in his bit about time-traveling to visit himself ten years ago and what his past reaction would be.
    "Look, you can't eat fried rice for breakfast every day."
  • Black Comedy: Quite often.
    • A particular example is his "Uncle Touchy's Naked Puzzle Basement" song: "You won't wear a shirt and you'll cry."
    • And who can forget this line from his Stella D'oro Breakfast Treats joke:
      "Your twat smells like a baby's coffin!"
    • In Annihilation, he visits his wife's gravestone to try and talk to her, only to be interrupted by an arguing Armenian family and another group blasting "My Heart Will Go On" by Céline Dion with all treble. From the same special, he talks about how his wife insisted that the world was completely chaotic and random, "an argument that she won in the shittiest way possible" by unexpectedly dying.
  • Call-Back: To his infamous KFC bowls bit below. The president of KFC actually commented on it and attempted to defend the product, and he made a whole second bit out of it.
  • Cessation of Existence: As an atheist, he's talked about how this is his belief, to the point that he doesn't care at all what happens to his body and anyone can have any piece of it they want.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Patton sent in over-the-top movie reviews to Ain't It Cool News under the pen name "Neill Cumpston." No one figured out who it was until Oswalt admitted it months later. It was definitely Gushing About Shows You Like, and you only wish they printed his quotes on the posters.
    Neill: (in a review of 300) I can't spoil the plot because THANK GOD THERE ISN'T ONE. Just ass kicking that kicks ass that, while said ass is getting kicked, is kicking yet more ass that's hitting someone's balls with a hammer made of ice but the ice is frozen whiskey.
  • Composite Character: Suggests that if only because of his ability to raise the dead, Resurrective Immortality and then multiplying food, the Jesus we read about in The Bible must have been combined with other contemporary miracle workers or his disciples.note 
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: He describes witnessing one in Annihilation where a power lifter dealt with an angry drunk by simply picking the drunk guy up and dropping him on his face.
    And he didn't put his cigar down to do this, which haunts me to this day.
  • Defictionalization: The ridiculous list of food offered in his Black Angus bit? A fan had the entire menu served up for a friend's bachelor party. Also included a gravy pipe, and a name tag with "Peaches" written on it for the bachelor. No word on whether the doors were locked from the outside.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: Patton's increasingly tortured efforts to explain how "barn-full of clown pubes" isn't kink-shaming in the We All Scream special.
  • Dramatic Irony: Deconstructed; when discussing what will be the "little ironic moment" in a biopic of his life (such as Paul McCartney looking at a guitar in a pawn shop window), Patton hopes it'll be someone sarcastically saying he's a comedian, rather than him drawing a rhino with a huge boner as a kid, and then, as an adult, falling into the rhino enclosure at the zoo and getting humped to death.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • From Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time: Being in a nearly empty grocery store at 11:00 AM on a Tuesday, looking at the Lean Cuisines? Perfectly fine. Being in a nearly empty grocery store at 11:00 AM on a Tuesday, looking at the Lean Cuisines, as Toto's "Africa" starts playing over the speakers? He'd have put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger if he had one, without even feeling any despair or sadness. Also, he feels that the cops would understand exactly why he did it, in a "oh yeah, we see this all the time" kind of way.
      Oswalt: I have never felt more... peacefully, effortless, joyously suicidal and— and it wasn't even despair. If I had a gun right here, I would've just brought it up, one smooth movement. Just like "Oh, they have French bread-crust pizza. Blam!"
    • In college he took a class called "Physics for Poets," where the head of the science department struggled through his hatred of the liberal arts students to get them the minimum science credits. Patton angrily correcting a Star Trek based word problem on the final exam apparently pushed him over the edge: "I'm going home and slitting my wrists, because I don't want to be on the same planet with you people anymore."
  • Everything Is Racist: Discussed in his Netflix special Talking for Clapping in which he recounts a story about his formerly closeted friend, who finally came out after years of internalized homophobia and self-loathing due to attending a very anti-gay high school. As a result, he was very overly protective of his openly gay nephew, who was attending the same school. When he asked the nephew if the school was still as oppressive as he remembered it, the nephew's eyes filled up with tears and said that it was: "My LGBT group was trying to book the gay prom the same night at the straight prom, and we just found out that it's being pushed to two weeks later, and it just feels really oppressive, y'know?"
    Patton: And my friend told me later that "At that point I was really struggling with the urge to tell him 'You need to shut the fuck up, because I don't think you know what oppression is.'"
  • Filling the Silence:
  • From the Mouths of Babes: In Annihilation, he talks about taking his daughter Alice to school the Monday after his wife died. Alice's classmates all came up to Patton to ask questions, which revealed more about their home life than Patton wanted to know.
    Kindergartner: Is Alice going to get a step-mom? 'Cause after my mommy moved out, I got a step-mom right away.
    Patton: I'll bet you did! Is she teaching you Russian right now? Because I'll bet she's not teaching your old mom Pilates anymore.
  • Genius Ditz: His view of subcontractors in I Love Everything, who seem to have focused on getting incredibly skilled at one specific thing to compensate for serious mental problems. One guy Patton hired to redo the wallpaper in his home spent the whole day yelling at a nonexistent person named Kirby, but the wallpaper the guy put up was done to perfection.
  • Germanic Depressives: Patton claims that this stereotype is true, based on the people he met during his own trip to Germany. He theorizes that Germans act this way on purpose, because they feel like if they don't stamp out all attempts at humour as quickly as possible, someone will eventually break out the All Germans Are Nazis jokes.
    Patton: [seeing a nightclub with red laser pointers shining on the outside walls] Oh, looks like the snipers are out tonight.
    German Cab Driver: No, zose are not sniper rifles, vhat zey have done is zey have pointed many small laser pointers at zee outside of zee nightclub to create a sort of visual effect. [Beat] But even if zey vere sniper rifles, you vill notice zat zey are in no way pointed at any Jews!
  • He Also Did:
    • Naturally, as a geeky comic, he would be writing geeky comic books.
    • He also was a writer for the first two seasons of MA Dtv.
    • He was hired as an (uncredited) script doctor for Transformers (2007). Plans were to also have him play Glenn, but scheduling conflicts prevented this.
  • Patton talks about an Evil God in his Christmas Shoes routine. Also one with the Jesus isn't evil variety.
    God: What's this? Someone in a bad mood on my son's birthday? Bullshit! Give that kid's mom cancer! Make sure he's in front of him in line, make him seven cents short for the shoes! This guy'll buy them, then he'll be in a good mood!
    Jesus: I don't think we need to give the mother cancer...
    God: You shut the fuck up! This is gonna be the best birthday you ever had!
  • Heavy Meta: Has a few bits about stand-up comedy, including one famous bit where he reenacts a heroin addict's open mic act. "Doctor Pepper" was so high, he would pass out mid-sentence...only to wake up and pick up in the middle of the routine, alternating between three different stories, completely out of sequence. The irony being, it killed, and if he had did so intentionally, Oswalt would have considered him a genius on the level of Andy Kaufman.
    • In Werewolves and Lollipops, he starts off by making fun of comedians who brag how "edgy" they're going to be in their act and then proceed to do the same tired material that's been done 100 times.
    • His story about headlining a week of gigs in Canada early in his career as chronicled in his book Zombie Spaceship Wasteland is all about this.
    • In his Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time special, he recounts being hired by a casino to do a gig for an insane amount of money, and didn't get to tell a single joke in his entire half-hour set, because the incredibly drunk audience kept interrupting him by yelling out the names of TV shows and movies they recognized him from. Pretty much all he did was say "yes, I was in that" over and over again for half an hour, and when his half hour was up, he got a roaring standing ovation. According to him, he has never made an audience happier than he did at that show, and the casino said he could come back and do a show there whenever he wanted, for the same insane amount of money.
  • Hypocrisy Nod:
    • During his second bit about the KFC Famous Bowls, he stops himself mid-setup because he'd said "I don't know why". He immediately acknowledges that he'd spent ten minutes talking about the product the last time around, so there's a damned good reason he's tied to it.
    • When his daughter got just as into My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic as he was into Star Wars at her age, he claims to have decided to not try to get into it himself, saying that he simply can't cram a single other extensive fantasy setting into his head at this point. He then proceeds to give a detailed and completely accurate description of the show, revealing how much supporting her fandom really has rubbed off on him. This then became Hilarious in Hindsight when he made two guest appearances on the show, including one where his daughter also played a character.invoked
  • Immediate Self-Contradiction: In Talking for Clapping, he describes how his daughter is getting into My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic the same way that he got into Star Wars, describing it as "her own thing" that he simply doesn't have time to watch or absorb. Patton then spends a good two minutes describing the premise of the show. He eventually guest starred in two episodes, the latter of which also involved his daughter.invoked
  • "Just Joking" Justification: With a bit of Lampshade Hanging and Refuge in Audacity thrown in.invoked
    "Yeah, boo robot I just made up!"
  • The Lost Lenore: Detailed in his special Annihilation, where he talks about his wife's death, trying to help his young daughter through the loss, and his moving on from the trauma.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Oswalt deconstructs the lyrical dissonance of "Christmas Shoes" by New Song in this comedy skit.
  • Mistaken for Racist: Discusses in Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time how his toddler daughter, after seeing a black man while at Starbucks, yelled "Monkey"! Turns out she was referring to Rafiki from The Lion King (1994). He then picked up his daughter, put her in front of his face and ran out, which, from a distance, isn't any better. In fact it might be much worse, as it looks like he's "protecting" his daughter from a black man.
  • Money, Dear Boy: He talks about how he once performed at a casino for a "sacrilegious" amount of money, also saying it was the most money he'd ever been offered to do anything. Even then, the audience was so drunk that all he did was listen while they shouted his past roles at him.
    • That said, Patton openly admits he only takes acting and voice-over roles for the money. His stand-up is something he won't let be encroached on, even turning down corporate sponsorship for his tours. And that's not to say he doesn't have limits for gigs he takes. He and his manager returned money for a gig when they found out Paris Hilton was going to be there; Patton had a LOT of Paris Hilton jokes at the time.
  • Moral Guardians: He hates them. He even has a sequence about how replacing 'adult' words with euphemisms results in a sentence even creepier than the original note  (see it under Narrative Profanity Filer, below).
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: Discussed in "Clean Filth". Patton says that, under the right context, G-rated filth can actually be more disturbing that what it's censoring.
    Patton: What's more disturbing? "I'm gonna shove my hard cock in your wet pussy," or "I'm gonna fill your hoo-ha with goof juice!"
  • Nostalgia Filter: He mocks this when discussing how his "Whole Foods" friends kept telling him to have a home birth because "that's how the pioneers did it". He says that it wasn't that great back then, and if they're going to say that, they might as well go all the way and have the baby outside in a "birthing trench" during a hailstorm, and to make sure to have at least nine children, since five of them will die of rickets.
  • Old Shame: Blade: Trinity. Though he's also said that given the film's Troubled Production, the fact that it even exists should qualify it for an A+.
  • Overly Long Gag: He tends to combine this with Genius Bonus for some truly hilarious bits; i.e. his bit about the Apocalypse. His impression of Dr. Pepper the heroin addict comedian goes on for quite a while. The audience gives a big applause towards the end, assuming that he's reached the punchline, but it keeps going.invoked
  • Pet Homosexual: Mocked in Finest Hour, where he relays the experience of being offered to play the role of the "gay best friend" in a romantic comedy. As written, the character was basically every walking cliché of gay people. Patton hated it, saying that the stereotype had become so old hat and worthy of mockery, he couldn't simply play it straight. Patton offered to do it only if he could portray the character as really stupid, which made the director turn him away.
    "I might as well put on blackface and tap-dance, that's how old [the gay best friend] cliché is now."
  • Platonic Prostitution: In Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time, he mentions he wound up doing this by accident during a tour. A madame (or web administrator of an online escort service) offered him a prostitute. He accepted, then took the hooker escort to lunch because he wasn't aware one could go straight to having sex, but ultimately didn't have the nerve to go through with it. Mostly because she told him her life of horrific domestic abuse and drug addiction. "She went from fake name to Werner Herzog film."
  • Political Correctness Is Evil:
    • "Welcome to comedy in 2015, Trevor Noah!"
    • He's ranted about people who attack the slightest cases of non-PC behavior, even from people like him who are genuinely trying to not offend anyone and simply can't keep up with what feels like a whole new set of rules every week. He also had some choice words for the people who attacked Ru Paul for using the word "tranny," since if anyone deserves N-Word Privileges on that one...
  • Promoted Fanboy:
    • He got a role voicing a character on The Venture Brothers after he met the show's creators at a convention and told them what a huge fan he was.
    • His appearance in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 reboot is also largely due to him being a huge fan of the original show.
    • He invoked this with his second appearance on My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. While he reprised his role as Quibble Pants, he also got his daughter Alice to voice a character in the episode, who was a huge fan of the show at the time.
  • A Rare Sentence: In the prelude to the Curb-Stomp Battle, the drunken cowboy said "That's it, motherfucker. The fuckin' boots are coming off!" To which everyone in the area "instantly became friends" simply because of the douchebag that made that absurd statement.
  • Refuge in Audacity: The track "Wackity Schmackity Doo!" on Werewolves And Lollipops, where he talks about adding jokes to footage of the Holocaust and 9/11.
  • Self-Deprecation: He frequently says that he looks like a lesbian.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: In his analysis of "The Christmas Shoes," Patton theorizes that the little boy is tricking strangers into buying women's shoes for the boy. His father was a Vietnam vet who gets off on women's shoes a stranger was tricked into buying because "that's what Vietnam did to me!"
  • So My Kids Can Watch:
    • His turn as Remy. He actually has a routine about how much the movie has affected his day-to-day life, and how jarring it is to realize that he now has child fans.
    • Once he found out that his daughter was into My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic the same way that he used to be into Star Wars, he took a guest role on FiM as Quibble Pants.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Intellectual alternative comedy peppered with swear words.
  • Stout Strength: As seen under Curb-Stomp Battle, he witnessed one where a "roly-poly butterball" simply lifts up a drunk guy and drops him in one smooth motion.
    'Cause real powerlifters, the serious ones, their bodies, they look like these little chubby guys. It's like their torso turns into a bicep. It's just one lifting— it's like a bicep with a dick and legs, and that's his— that's his one move. Just lift and drop.
  • Take That!:
    • Patton is NOT a fan of Yoshinoya Beef Bowl, ending his 2008 BlizzCon performance with a hilarious diatribe asserting that the chain must be a front for heroin distribution.
    • And if he had a Time Machine, he would travel back to the mid-nineties and kill George Lucas with a shovel.
    • One of his hallmark bits is a takedown on KFC's Famous Bowls, calling it "a failure pile in a sadness bowl" and ranting that it was a disgusting mash-up of things that shouldn't be together. He ended up doing a second routine based on a high-ranking executive of KFC chiming in about the routine, to which Patton argued that the guy should have just said that Patton's opinion was irrelevant.
    • His mocking of Black Angus Steakhouse's ads for its hearty meals actually won him the lead for Ratatouille; Brad Bird loved the way Oswalt talked in hilarious detail about the smorgasbord of food in that routine.
      "I'll suck a cock on the Golden Gate Bridge before I serve you any mixed greens, buddy!"
    • He outright calls NPR unlistenable, noting that racist, fascist conservative talk radio seems to have taken all the rock music, leaving NPR with boring jazz music and/or weird foreign stuff.
  • Tempting Fate: An extremely Black Comedy example. In Annihilation, he talks about how a few weeks after the death of his wife, he pulled his daughter Alice out of school for Mother's Day to take her to visit his wife's family in Chicago and see different attractions to distract her from it being the first holiday after her mother's passing. They both have a fun time and on the actual Mother's Day itself he takes her to the airport to take them back home, thinking that he had managed to pull it off. Just as they enter the tunnel to board the plane, an old Polish flight attendant tries to comfort them by telling them about how her own mother died when she was a child and how she and her father never got over it. Predictably, Patton and Alice spend the whole flight home crying and now Patton fears that old woman will show up every holiday to tell Alice about how sad she is since her mother died.
  • Tone Shift:
    • Throughout his book Zombie Spaceship Wasteland. More of a collection of essays vice a straight narrative, some of them autobiographical (working in a movie theater as a teen, recalling his schizophrenic uncle), some just silly and goofy (a fake collection of old hobo songs, a more realistic wine menu), some a mix. The tone shift from the humor you'd expect from him to some dead serious and often depressing chapters can be disconcerting, especially if you just went in for the funny.
    • The story from his early career about a week of gigs he did in Canada manages to cover the entire spectrum.
    • Halfway through Annihilation, he stops doing bits and talks about his wife's death, including having to tell his daughter that her mother was gone. While he does insert a few jokes and gags, it's mostly a straight-laced story about how awful he felt.
      Patton: The second-worst day of my life was the day my wife passed away. The worst day was the day after, when I had to tell my daughter. (...) I had to look at this little girl who means everything to me, and take everything away from her.
  • Tranquil Fury: His description of a comedy-magician when he was just starting out, when they'd both been shorted five dollars each. Oswalt had to accept it, but the magician was not pleased.
    Patton: But he doesn't scream and yell, he does that thing where you get so god damned angry you begin speaking very quietly, but you over-enunciate every fucking word that comes out of your mouth...
  • Trademark Favorite Food: According to his Black Angus routine, steak. He admits he thinks he loves steak more than he does, because he hates hippies that go out of their way to act like Straw Vegetarians.
  • Unknown Rival: The tactic that the president of KFC should have used in defense of the KFC Famous Bowls, according to Patton:
    Patton Oswalt: All this guy needed to say was, "Who the fuck is Patton Oswalt? I'm a OLIGARCH!"
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: Lampshaded heavily. Will often make an obscure reference in his act, then start topping himself, i.e., making references to H. P. Lovecraft and This Mortal Coil, then end up talking about Frank Belknap Long. He lampshades the trope on one album, laughing about how he's expecting the audience to know such obscure references. He makes another obscure reference and pretends to bomb.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Most of his "old hobo songs" in his book Zombie Spaceship Wasteland. (In the audiobook version, they're actually sung with accompanying instrumentation)
    Got a pecker made-a cigarettes
    And eight dead wives
    My ass is full of soup
    - Opening lyrics of “Squirrel House Christmas”


Video Example(s):


Quibble Pants New Story Idea

According to commentary, Patton Oswalt ended up going off on a tangeant during the final segment of the episode and it felt too much in-character that the editors decided to leave it in and have it play over the credits.

How well does it match the trope?

4.33 (18 votes)

Example of:

Main / ThrowItIn

Media sources: