Patton Oswalt Sony Centre, Toronto ON, October 2
Published Oct 03, 2015There's a pretty good chance that Aparna Nancherla stole Patton Oswalt's bottled water last night, which fucked up the space-time continuum for the best.
After her charming, revealing opening set that played up her personal foibles and afflictions ("I do suffer from depression, which means I get sad for no reason. But then I'll remember… some of the reasons"), Nancherla prepared to introduce Oswalt. Seconds before doing so, she picked up a previously untouched bottled water that had been sitting on a stool beside her.
After welcoming him to the stage, she shared a half-hug with Oswalt, who received the adoring crowd, stepped to the mic stand, cast a sidelong glance at the waterless stool and then a more befuddled one towards the wings where Nancherla had disappeared with the abscoded H2O, and told the audience how jet-lagged and dehydrated he was.
Oswalt, possibly parched, then laid waste to the room, destroying with 90 minutes of golden, new material that was a healthy mix of autobiography, observation, and, most stunningly, crowd work.
He talked about his own battles with depression and a recent bout with insomnia that led him to discover that while his doctor only parcels out four Ambien per prescription, his elderly parents seem to have an unlimited supply of every fashionable Hollywood anxiety pill invented.
Oswalt suggested America needs a woman president simply by citing the fact that every major motion picture directed by a man is edited by a woman, illustrating this by suggesting males shoot loads of cum all over the place before a woman calmly makes something comprehensible (like, say, a baby) out of this man spray.
He also laid into homophobes and anti-trans people who decry biological transitioning with this gem: "If the thing that nullifies your argument is the word 'pants,' then you didn't have an argument."
A standing ovation brought Oswalt out for an encore where he told an incredible, ten-minute story about attending a kid's birthday party with his six year-old daughter that featured the most disaffected, slacker hipster clown ever. At the very least, the mom running the party gave him his new parenting maxim: "I'm super pissed off but I also want to see where this goes."
If Oswalt commanded the room for the entire set, it was due in no small part to crowd work conducted halfway through. "Might I get a bottle of water? Please? I'm ever so dehydrated," he said, looking off-stage with just a slight hint of "Jesus Christ! Water! I need water! I am not an animal! Nancherrrrrrrrrla!!!" in his voice.
Once the new bottle arrived, the jewel of the set took shape via an exchange with a woman in the audience who told him that she was an environmental analyst for Blackberry in Kitchener.
"You work at Blackberry?! In 2015 — isn't that like working for a CB radio company?" Oswalt replied to a huge Canadian roar. "It's nice working with old people isn't it? You do environmental analysis for Blackberry? Are they fucking with the environment? What are they, dumping porn into the rivers?"
It went on and on and got better and sharper, with Oswalt turning this fresh fodder into some of his funniest material of the night. He had us already, but when his brilliant, imaginative mind seized into this new thing, it became a master class in improvisation. When it comes to Patton Oswalt, for best results, please subtract and then add water.