Patton Oswalt may be familiar to most as Spence from "The King of Queens," for which he also served as a writer, but in truth, the 20-year veteran stand-up comic, writer and actor has had his hands on much more than we know. Just this year, in addition to providing the voice of the lead character in the Pixar film "Ratatouille," the Virginia native has appeared in the movies "Reno 911!: Miami" and "Balls of Fury"; provided "touch-up" work for more than 25 scripts; all but stole the show on the Comedy Central's roast of Flavor Flav; and released the stand-up album "Werewolves and Lollipops" (Sub Pop) in July.
At 8 p.m. Saturday, he brings another labor of love to the University at Buffalo Center for the Arts: the Comedians of Comedy tour (the show is only open to UB undergraduate students). Started as a vehicle to showcase his lesser-known friends in the business by performing at traditionally music venues instead of high-priced comedy clubs, the tour has spawned a documentary, a six-episode series on Comedy Central, and a new DVD, "Live at the Troubadour."
During a two-day break in New York City, the L.A. resident Oswalt spoke from his hotel room.
>You've talked about a new wave going on in comedy right now. Is that a matter of more talent out there, or are people easier to find through new mediums?
I think it's more that new talent that's out there sees that there's way more than one way to make it. There are more entry points, so people can be less scared of "Oh, how do I start," or, "How do I get over these hurdles," because if there's too many hurdles down one path, you can just choose a different path, or make your own, with the new technology, or with the Internet, or whatever. So that's definitely a big positive.
>You've got a lot of irons in the fire. What's the most fulfilling for you right now?
Well, stand-up has always been at the forefront. Acting is the most rewarding, and writing is the most satisfying.
>So you get the best of all worlds then?
I try for it every day, yes. I mean, some days, it doesn't quite balance, but for the most part, yeah.
>Speaking of "Just Livin' the Dream," you worked with one of Buffalo's proud products, Nick Bakay, on "King of Queens." Got any good stories that'll embarrass him in his hometown paper?
He did come from Buffalo, didn't he? Ah God, I'm trying to think. It's hard to embarrass that guy, he's always such a cool guy. He really is. He's like a Midwestern James Bond almost; he's just a smooth dude.
>How does one be a Midwestern James Bond?
That's for you to figure out.
-- Seamus Gallivan, Special to The News