Comedian continues hot streak

Patton Oswalt may be best known to the public for his role as Spence on CBS' "The King of Queens," but the comedian shares little in common with the less-than-successful character he portrays on TV.

For starters, he doesn't sleep in the same bedroom as his mother — always a good thing — and he certainly doesn't share Spence's burden of being the hopeless, hard-luck loser of his group of friends.

Unlike Spence, the 35-year-old resident of Burbank, Calif., has been riding a hot streak that began this summer. In June, the funnyman released his first full-length album, Feelin' Kinda Patton. Now he's got his own hour-long comedy special, "Patton Oswalt: No Reason to Complain," which debuts at 9 p.m. Sunday on Comedy Central.

He's also fallen in love with a woman who's "a little muffin-basket made out of rainbow kisses," as he explains during the special.

In other words, things have been going so swimmingly for Oswalt lately that while most comedians have little trouble pulling from their hard-knock lives for material, he might have to start looking a little bit harder.

Oswalt, who's a regular on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," has appeared on Comedy Central stand-up shows and has had his own half-hour special on HBO, said his first full-hour special was a great reward from the folks at Comedy Central for the effort he poured into Feelin' Kinda Patton.

"It just shows that a lot of the hard work I did earlier this year paid off for me in a nice way," he said. "I released the album and that's why they gave me the special."

Earlier this year, Oswalt said the release of Feelin' Kinda Patton stood as the highpoint in his career. While he's proud of the special, which contrary to its title features a laundry list of far-reaching gripes that hit everything from his girlfriend's obsession with serial-killer TV documentaries to why a baby is merely "a bag of crap that can make noise and grab stuff and ruin movies," Oswalt said he's still proudest of the album.

"If (the special) helps to promote the album, that's great," he said. "I'm trying to establish an identity outside of what I do on TV and films. That can be hard to do sometimes."

It might be especially difficult considering Oswalt's been popping up in so many places lately. In addition to working alongside comedic geniuses Kevin James and Jerry Stiller on "The King of Queens," the Virginia-born comic can be seen cracking wise on VH1's pop-culture mock-umentary "Best Week Ever" and has lent his voice to crank-calling puppet Boomer of Comedy Central's "Crank Yankers." He's also appears in the upcoming "Blade: Trinity" and played the biased disco DJ in "Starsky & Hutch" whose controversial dance-off decision sends a drug-addled Ben Stiller over the edge.

Oswalt, who said he's not a trained actor, said he enjoys the various avenues he's had a chance to venture down in his career, but he really loves coming back to his stand-up roots.

"Stand-up is the most fun, acting is the most rewarding and writing is the most satisfying," he said.

Unlike his scripted appearances, "Complain" finds Oswalt doing what he does best: taking his off-the-wall observations and adding to their hilarity with a delivery chockfull of bitterness. The special finds Oswalt rallying against individuals who heap adoration upon recovering alcoholics and people who "pollute the Earth with kids" while his normal-guy actions go unnoticed. He also asserts his hatred for President George W. Bush, but despises hippies with such fervor that he declares himself to be "a man without a country."

He also longs for a return to the days when musicians could deflect bullets with the mere power of their rocking — at least in their music videos. As Oswalt sees it, few modern musicians possess the aptitude to do what Ted Nugent did as a member of rock supergroup Damn Yankees in the early 1990s.

"From what I hear from my metal-fan friends, Lamb of God might be able to do it," he said. "I'm sure there is some Ukrainian or Japanese band, or some Norwegian death metal outfit out there that can do it, but I'm sure I'll never hear them."

Though there's no underlying theme tying all of the bits found on "Complain" together, Oswalt said there's one thing he hopes viewers have no problems realizing.

"That I'm a funny m—– f—–," he said."

This article appeared in The Marquette Tribune on Dec. 2 2004.