You may wonder why Patton Oswalt’s new Netflix special is titled I Love Everything. I wondered the same thing at first. Like most great comedians, he is annoyed with the same things that I am. However, in Patton’s case, he excels at finding the joy in these frustrating, terrible parts of life, while others would shake their fists in the air and curse them. Despite the hell he’s been through with the passing of his first wife, he now walks through life with a glowing smile, and it’s admirable to witness.
Patton, who recently turned 50, is relatable in many ways. He comes across as the perfect comedian to get drunk and barbeque with. It would be particularly enjoyable if the setting resembled the beautiful piece of Americana that is his stage, complete with a pool and palm trees. I feel his pain when he grieves over how boring adult cereal is, and how everything in a house magically breaks the second you buy it. Nothing describes adulthood (in the First World) more perfectly than dealing with these two issues.
Maybe it’s weird for a comedian to mourn the loss of “fun cereal” in his 50s (I went through this tough transition in my 30s), but Oswalt has always come across as a big, lovable kid trapped inside a big, lovable adult’s body. I mean, who doesn’t wish their cereal had a maze on the back of the box so you could “help sugar-bat get to his insulin”?
My favourite quality in Oswalt is that he’s a creative writing genius. I’m convinced there’s no comedian alive who can string words together like him. Much of this stems from the fact that he’s a giant book nerd. The audience benefits from his obsession with popular novels, comics, movies, TV shows, and everything in between. There are some references you might not catch, but the material stands out because of its originality. Regarding his newfound consumption of grown-up breakfast, he sadly describes it as, “eating cereal that tastes like an unpopular teenager’s poetry.”
Unfortunately, I know his troubles with contractors and sub-contractors all too well. Oh, the stories I could tell (but I won’t because the internet is forever). Luckily though, I’ve never had to deal with a wallpaper guy who is constantly yelling at his imaginary friend (yet). Come to think of it, I don’t know anyone under the age of 80 who has wallpaper. What is happening to you, Patton?
Being middle-aged doesn’t mean Oswalt is afraid to still get dirty with his creativity. Often, he’s better the raunchier he gets. When describing the dangers of having sex with a really fit person, he describes the climax as, “I came but I’m dented.” A few seconds later the audience is treated to a glorious slice of TMI, in which he refers to his ejaculation as “fresh Twinkie filling.” This instantly brought me back to my all-time favourite bit, “Clean Filth,” from Werewolves and Lollipops, in which he creepily said, “I’m gonna fill your hoo-ha with goof juice!” I’m glad to see the old guy still has it.
There is some time spent discussing the #metoo movement, with some more classic one-liners, but for the most part his act isn’t focused on current events. A refreshing part of the special is that he mostly shies away from Trump jokes, admitting, “What is the point at this point?” After all, how do you follow with something wackier and more ridiculous than the current presidency? It’s impossible. I’m not even a comedian and I feel his frustration. He wisely accepts that he’s not going to convert anyone. Eating organic bran flakes really has matured him. Or, maybe it’s that damn wallpaper.
Another impossible task is to pick a favourite line from a Patton Oswalt special. As I said, the man is a damn wordsmith. However, I’m going to do just that: “Run at love if you see it. Trust me.” This poignant advice is an inspiring moment reflecting on his state of mind and attitude toward life after losing his wife. Dick jokes and Star Wars references are great, but he wields a certain power when he lets his guard down. The mood shifts, but never in a bad way. His humour is on a different level because he connects with people through his honesty and vulnerability. He had every person at the Knight Theater in Charlotte, North Carolina in the palm of his hands (hands that proudly wear rings from both his late wife, and the new love of his life), and they were happy to be there.