Comedians can be a walking embodiment of duality. They spend their lives making other people laugh, bringing joy to the masses and even helping bullied kids in school keep the big kids at bay by providing hours and hours of material to use as their shield. Yet, while this fount of laughter pours from them, many of the most famous and gifted have silently (or not-so-silently) dealt with the internal tornado of despair, misery and the black-hole abyss that is depression.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not every comedian, and it is not an intimate description of the one I’m reviewing here, but Patton Oswalt does spend a good deal of time on his new album being open about his own psychological battles.
Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time is Oswalt’s newest release, which comes packaged with the CD audio and a DVD of the performance. He is a true Titan of the current comedy scene; his Star Wars-filled filibuster during a 2013 guest appearance on Parks and Recreation is classic.
Oswalt is an admitted and avowed geek, and his comedy speaks directly to those who never wore the letter jackets in high school (although those guys can enjoy a good laugh here too).
Those hoping for a ton of inside humor for the Comic-Con crowd in the new DVD, you won’t find it in Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time. The release is titled intelligently because Patton Oswalt spends much of the performance describing the humor found in everyday misery. This theme is encapsulated brilliantly in his encore bit, “Encore: Orudis Blampfortt,” which truly has to be seen to be appreciated.
During the performance, Oswalt is also open about his depression; one of the bits deals with how the depression has gotten more creative since the birth of his daughter. The bit is called “Creative Depression”.
I wonder how much new material comedians glean from the birth of their first child? Being a new father myself, I can only imagine what someone more hilarious than myself might pull from each and every day with a wobbling, bobbing baby.
Patton Oswalt has never seemed afraid to be human, to have faults, and to play with the reality we all face. Some things are happy, some truly suck, and there are even times when we are the ones who suck. In those moments, we need to be able to laugh at ourselves or suffer becoming drones or douchebags. In another bit, “Sellout”, Oswalt details one of those moments when he had to decide whether to take a truly demeaning gig for a absurd amount of money or keep hold to some societal determination of artistic nobility.
You can guess which way he went.
Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time is a slow burn, filled with tragic and touching scenarios, which bring laughter, and a reminder to not take ourselves so seriously. For that alone, Patton Oswalt could very well give up his career as a comedian and become a life counselor.
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