Patton Oswalt: I Love Everything | Netflix special reviewed by Steve Bennett
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Patton Oswalt: I Love Everything

Netflix special reviewed by Steve Bennett

As the title suggests, Patton Oswalt is putting a positive spin on things in this Netflix special. It’s certainly a change of tone from his last show, Annihilation, which included a powerful and emotive section about being consumed by grief following the sudden death of his wife Michelle McNamara at 46.

Since then, and to his surprise, he has rediscovered happiness after meeting a ‘poem of women who relit the sky’. ‘If you find love, run toward it,’ he tells the North Carolina audience in an earnestly sentimental moment.

Positivity in comedy needn’t mean toothlessness, however, and Oswalt serves up some choice routines here. He mocks, but always emphasises that it’s done with affection. 

The signature segment concerns the unsophisticated diner chain Denny’s – it’s even trailed before the show proper starts – which he portrays as the sort of place you only wind up after a string of bad decisions. Yet even as his pinpoint observations of what could be considered the eatery’s failings become increasingly incredulous, he maintains a respect for the establishment for having no delusions. ‘It’s more self-actualised that any of us,’ he asserts.

Similarly, the weirdos and misfits who came to work on his house emerge as idiosyncratic folk happily ploughing their own furrow, even as he jokes about their oddness.

Talking about Donald Trump might pose a challenge to this upbeat worldview, but even here he skips directly engaging with the politics just to point out how ineffective comedians are against the car-crash shitstorm of his presidency.  Even the Maga brigade are unlikely to take too much umbrage at Oswalt’s take, which – as in so much of this special – is brimming with memorable imagery.

Closer to home, the comic also takes a swipe at Louis CK, without naming him, for his propensity for masturbating in front of colleagues. It’s an astute, waspish look at the nuance of consent but putting the emphasis on dick jokes, not moralising.

Patton starts on less contentious ground, considering middle-age as he turns 50. He’s not the first comedian to make some of these observations, such as breakfast cereals changing from the fun to the practical, but his imagery remains impeccable, noting, for instance, that the colour of his morning meal is now ‘as brown as the soil in the ground that awaits you’.

He contrasts how people behave in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, with the world-weariness of his current decade, where his pastime is the drudgery of hiking, suits his natural hangdog demeanour

With age comes empathy and generosity of spirit, at least judging by the content of this special, even while highlighting lif’s absurdities. In Oswalt’s capable hands, that mix is a lot more appealing than his Sorghum Farms Amaranth Flakes.

  • Incidentally, Oswalt’s largesse extends to offering a special to fellow comic Bob Rubin as an extra. An influential, if commercially unsuccessful, stalwart of the comedy scene, Rubin’s shouty weirdness is in complete contrast to the headliner’s style and is probably an acquired taste. But will appeal to fans of Tony Law, as the two are very similar, but Rubin has less explicit self-awareness.

Patton Oswalt: I Love Everything is available on Netflix here.

Review date: 20 May 2020
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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