Patton Oswalt’s newest book, Silver Screen Fiend, is a must read for any movie buff and/or anyone that has ever spent more than 5 minutes thinking about Largo. This is the point in the piece where I insert myself. I’m sorry. I really don’t like when reviewers do this but I feel that it’s necessary for this book/appearance review for reasons that I will hope become obvious.
Patton Oswalt is the type of performer fans feel they know. Similar to Amy Poehler, Louis CK and David Cross, this comic/actor/writer became well-known to a certain type of comedy fan because they were always themselves, even when they were just doing a role for the security of a regular check. These are not bad things, the fandom and the regular check, it just helps explain who likes this guy and who will like the book. Kevin James, the lead in The King of Queens, the show Patton worked on for nearly a decade, a show that bought him a house and allowed him to take The Comedians of Comedy (Patton Oswalt, Brian Posehn, Maria Bamford and Zach Galifianikis) on the road, does not have this type of fan. James is also able to sell-out large theaters, but no one is going to attend an author conversation between him and a Slate writer. It’s just different. Not good or bad, just different.
Last night at Sixth & I, it wasn’t weird to gush about minor Star Wars characters. It was a safe space to be a super fan, worshiping at the altar of the superest of super fans. Maybe a little too safe. Sixth & I is a fantastic venue, especially for literary and comedy events. The staff is polite and the setting is comfortable. Maybe that’s why one Star Wars superfan felt fine asking Patton for a job, making the 500 or so other superfans incredibly uncomfortable.
You are not Patton Oswalt’s good friend. I am not Patton Oswalt’s good friend. In fact, we are not even acquaintances. Though I am a rational human being who does not desire to befriend famous people, I feel like I know Patton Oswalt. Because he writes passionately and protectively of the films and alternative comedy rooms he loves, I feel connected. That’s the sign of a talented writer. He is not my friend. He is most likely not a friend of anyone else that attended the conversation. Regardless of reality, we all felt connected.
Patton was the nerdiest guy in the room. Nerd no longer means what it means when Patton was a nerd in Sterling, Virginia. (Sidenote: seemingly everyone in the room that currently lives in or near Sterling, Virginia really wanted to let Patton know they live in or near Sterling, Virginia.) Being a nerd now means you watch prime time major network television multiple nights a week because MARVEL COMICS HAS MULTIPLE SHOWS IN PRIME TIME! That’s an absurd thought for anyone born before 1989.
Amy Poehler’s Yes Please has a few pages devoted to the type of superfan that would ask someone for a job at an authors discussion. It’s dismissive and funny. Patton was dismissive and funny with the individual that made it weird for everyone else. Even after that oddness and reading a fantastic book about fandom (You will consume this tome quickly, I got it on a Friday afternoon and was done by Sunday morning. It’s such a quick, welcoming read. I can not recommend it highly enough for anyone that has ever gone out of their way to an old movie palace.), I still feel connected to Patton. That’s messed up. Patton’s fans are messed up.
And now, for no other reason that this came up during the Q&A at last night’s conversation but is not mentioned in the book, Patton Oswalt’s fantastic Star Wars/Marvel Parks and Rec clip…