Fatherhood is treating Patton Oswalt very well. The new father has come a long way since he first began to make his rise as the ringleader of the Comedians Of Comedy Tour. On his 4th comedy album, Finest Hour Oswalt may have traded the Star Trek jokes for ones about fatherhood and suburban living. But his witty observations and perfect storytelling is the best it’s ever been.
What makes Oswalt so strong on the album is what makes every great comedian great, possessing the ability to tell a great story. Patton has always been able to tell a tale that is enthralling and hilarious at the same time. For example, he tells a fantastic story about a visit to the grocery store deli and the man in line before him. Not exactly a premise that wasn’t heard before. What Oswalt does is take the story in a direction one would never expect by working in a Terminator-esque inter-dimensional war. It borders on ridiculous but the lingering impression of the man in line mixed with the impossible scenario just well, damn, funny as all hell.
Not convinced? Need another example of his perfect storytelling? One of the best stories on the album is when Oswalt tells the story about his second favorite Christmas memory of all time which involved seeing a movie with his brother on Christmas Day. The 3 minute jag relies heavily on one singular punchline delivered around the 2.5 minute mark. Don’t worry, it kills. Oswalt doesn’t seem to mind not getting a big laugh for that long period of time because of his masterful art of the story.
Oswalt’s sweet spot is the mundane subject, in the hand of a seasoned comedian it can be spun into gold as we lay witness to it. Wearing sweatpants? Check? Spam? Not a problem? Parking tickets and singing to yourself in a car? Handled with perfection.
But Oswalt isn’t just simple concepts he tackles the topic of gay marriage and stereotypes with one of the best and succinct summations on the subject I’ve heard in a long time. People have opinions and we might not need to allow them all.
The album pulls every aspect of the comedian’s life into focus and is pretty much guaranteed to top many end of year lists. It’s a terrific snapshot of the comedian as he just gets older, wiser, and flat-out better. A watermark for the Comedian of Comedy and it’s currently, most definitely his finest hour.