I like Patton Oswalt — his guest spots on various shows (Parks & Rec, for one) have always cracked me up, and while I don’t do the Twitter, I always enjoy seeing his funny tweets when they go viral. Sadly, a general like for a funny dude did not translate to great love for his book about film — but if you’re a film buff (I am not, although I do love a good — meaning bad — disaster movie), you might want to check this one out.
In the 1990s, living in L.A., Oswalt was halfheartedly working at MadTV while trying to make it big in stand up. He was also trying to watch every movie listed in five different film books, attending shows night after night in various theatres in the city (mostly the New Beverly). His obsession really took off when he superstitiously began to believe that his stand up performances went more successfully after a night of attending shows. At that point, he couldn’t stop.
The book is not all about films — Oswalt talks a lot about stand up, about breaking into TV and film. He’s pretty hard on himself, talking about what a film snob he was/is, and how he viewed himself as above his fellow comics because of it. Unfortunately, most of the book just didn’t click with me. He says something at the beginning about while the film stuff might not be for everyone, that he would at least make it funny — and most of it didn’t deliver on that front. It’s funny, but in a pretentious way that I think he intended to be self-mocking, but it misses the mark. At one point, he says about his stand up comedy at the time: “I was still in that awkward stage where my ideas were simpler and less startling than I cared to admit, so I masked that with a lot of unnecessarily ornate vocabulary and dense cultural references.” Judging by this book, I don’t think he fully grew out of that.