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Patton Oswalt Biography

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Photo of stand-up comedian Patton Oswalt
Photo by Frederick Brown/Getty Images

Born:

January 27, 1969

Quick Patton Oswalt Facts:

  • Oswalt is a native of Sterling, Virginia.
  • He began doing stand-up comedy at age 19.
  • He wrote for the sketch show MAD TV for two years.
  • Oswalt organized his own comedy tour, called The Comedians of Comedy.
  • Played the voice of Remy the rat in the Disney/Pixar hit Ratatouille.

Patton Oswalt Overview:

Patton Oswalt is a 20-year veteran of the stand-up comedy scene. With two albums, a concert DVD, his own comedy tour and various acting and voiceover roles under his belt, Oswalt has become ubiquitous in the world of stand-up.

Oswalt has always been at the forefront of the "alternative comedy" scene - that is, comedy that eschews the traditional setup/punchline approach in favor of new and unique styles. Oswalt's English major background and science fiction/comic book obsessions often play into his routines, as he can casually reference George Orwell and the Green Lantern in the same sentence.

In the Beginning:

Patton Oswalt was born in Sterling, Virginia, in January of 1969. The son of a Marine colonel father, Patton was named for the famous military general. Though inspired at a young age by comedians like Johnathan Winters, Richard Pryor and Steve Martin, Oswalt didn't consider doing standup comedy until he was in college. After working as a paralegal and a DJ, he decided to give comedy a try.

A Career in Comedy:

Oswalt performed his first stand-up routine at an open mic in Washington, D.C. in 1988, and began doing comedy professionally the next year. In 1992, he relocated to California with comedian friend Blaine Capatch to try his hand at stand-up on the West Coast.

Breaking Out:

In 1995, Oswalt got a job as a writer on the then-brand new comedy show, MAD TV. He lasted only two seasons on the show, admittedly spending more time playing Doom on his computer than writing sketches.

After leaving MAD TV, Oswalt finally appeared in his very own HBO Comedy Half-Hour in 1997. In that special, he riffed on a version of Star Wars with Nick Nolte, and performed extended routines on "celebrities" like ice cream maker Tom Carvel and painter Bob Ross.

Patton Oswalt Albums:

In 2004, Oswalt released his first comedy album, Feelin' Kinda Patton. That same year came No Reason to Complain, his first hour-long special for Comedy Central.

His second full-length album, Werewolves and Lollipops, was released on Sub-Pop Records in 2007. It features Oswalt's popular "KFC Famous Bowl" routine, which he had previously performed on Comedy Central's Last Laugh '06 and Late Night with Conan O'Brien.

The Comedians of Comedy:

Fed up with the traditionally overpriced comedy club scene, Oswalt organized his very own stand-up tour in 2004. Called The Comedians of Comedy (a sly jab at other packaged tours like The Original Kings of Comedy), it featured Oswalt and fellow comics Maria Bamford, Brian Posehn and Zach Galifianakis. Shows were performed at smaller rock clubs and alternative venues in the hopes of bringing new and younger audiences out to see live comedy.

Comedians Documentary:

The tour was filmed and turned into a documentary in 2005, appropriately called The Comedians of Comedy. It featured live stand-up material cut together with footage of the comics on the road - checking into hotels, doing promotions, buying comic books and generally goofing off. A six-part behind-the-scenes series also ran on Comedy Central in 2005.

The original documentary, packaged with a one hour performance called The Comedians of Comedy: Live at the El Rey, was released on DVD in 2007.

Patton Oswalt the Actor (and Cartoon Voice):

As an actor and voiceover artist, Oswalt has close to 60 film and television credits. He's had bit parts and character roles in movies ranging from Magnolia to Blade: Trinity to Balls of Fury. His biggest break in film came in 2007, when director Brad Bird handpicked Oswalt as the voice of Remy the rat in the animated film Ratatouille after hearing the comic's first album.

On television, Oswalt is probably best known for his recurring role as Spence Olchin on The King of Queens, which ran for nine seasons. In addition to that series, Oswalt has frequently appeared on Reno 911! and Crank Yankers. He also provides voices for a number of cartoons, including Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Kim Possible, as well as video games like Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories

In 2008, Oswalt became a regular guest on Lewis Black's Root of All Evil on Comedy Central, decrying topics ranging from YouTube to Vice-President Dick Cheney.

In 2009, Oswalt played his first live action leading role as an obsessive New York Giants fan in the independent dark comedy Big Fan.

Additional Patton Oswalt Facts

  • A self-proclaimed comic book nerd, Oswalt has penned issues of Justice League of America and Batman for DC Comics.
  • An unedited version of Feelin' Kinda Patton, called 222, was also released in 2004. The title comes from its length: 2 hours and 22 minutes.
  • Oswalt has appeared on the Comedy Central Roasts of both William Shatner and Flavor Flav.

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