Time has not been kind, madam.
January 7, 2012 11:14 AM   Subscribe

A story about "That One Time When Patton Oswalt was an Asshole" and Oswalt's response.
posted by eugenen (196 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've been watching this unfold on Twitter, and it has reinforced my already substantial respect for Oswalt. I really think that in the future, he will be remembered as one of the all-time great comical (and otherwise) minds.
posted by jbickers at 11:16 AM on January 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm no fan of Oswald, in fact I think he sucks. But I totally agree with him on this, and might just give him another try because of it. This Gray woman seems like a frustrated beginner, and this blog post a way to attach herself remora-like to Oswald as far as internet infamy.
posted by timsteil at 11:26 AM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Regarding that first link, thank god for readability.
posted by idiopath at 11:28 AM on January 7, 2012 [13 favorites]


I am a fan of Oswald and think he rocks. And, as for Barbara Gray, even Oswald admits it looked bad unless you saw the whole thing.
posted by UseyurBrain at 11:28 AM on January 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


Is... is... he really looking to Harlan Ellison for advice on how to treat fans? He may have meant to say he was working with Wesley Snipes' tax advisor, because the man is not making good decisions.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:30 AM on January 7, 2012 [29 favorites]


I love Patton to death and it sucks that this happened. This seems to me like one of those drama situations where both parties clearly lose and ideally they'd both apologize for their actions/weird reactions but eh, happens to the best of us.

Patton seems like a genuinely self-aware guy who would be thrown by something this and probably is going to give it some more thought next time it happens again, if/when it does.
posted by windbox at 11:31 AM on January 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't really sympathize with him. Yes, the woman was being annoying but his response was vicious. And she had no idea this happened to be a new bit of material he was nervous about performing.
posted by timsneezed at 11:34 AM on January 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


Not wanting unauthorized recordings is one thing, but Patton, Honey, it isn't a rough draft any more when you do it on stage. Every audience is final.
posted by idiopath at 11:34 AM on January 7, 2012 [26 favorites]


Oswalt seems like a good guy but uh:
It's the equivalent, to me, of sitting at a table in a coffee shop or library, writing the first draft of a short story, or screenplay or, were I a musician, song lyrics, and having someone walk by, whip the sheet away from me, snap a pic with their camera, and then say, "Hey, I'm a fan of your stuff. I want the new thing you're working on permanently on my phone now. I'm deciding when it's 'done.'"
He was giving a public performance (and I'm assuming being paid for it). It's not the same thing at all. It sucks having that control taken away from you but go work on it in private if you don't want it out there.
posted by frenetic at 11:35 AM on January 7, 2012 [16 favorites]


Even without reading Oswalt's response I'm going to give him the win here. A comedian's thing of value that he sells is fresh material. If you take that away he has nothing to sell. You're taking away his salary right in front of him, and then giving him a hard time about it. It's like walking up to a fruit cart and straight up taking fruit without paying, and then giving them an attitude about it. It's not right.
posted by bleep at 11:35 AM on January 7, 2012 [17 favorites]


It's the equivalent, to me, of sitting at a table in a coffee shop or library, writing the first draft of a short story, or screenplay or, were I a musician, song lyrics, and having someone walk by, whip the sheet away from me, snap a pic with their camera, and then say, "Hey, I'm a fan of your stuff. I want the new thing you're working on permanently on my phone now. I'm deciding when it's 'done.'"

No. It's really not.
posted by june made him a gemini at 11:35 AM on January 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


One more thing about this and how it reflects so positively on Patton: The original blog post might never have come to anybody's attention had he not retweeted it to his audience. He publicized this very negative piece about him, then took about a day to calmly and openly reply to it.
posted by jbickers at 11:35 AM on January 7, 2012 [15 favorites]


Oops, Frenetic beat me to it.
posted by june made him a gemini at 11:35 AM on January 7, 2012


But he did use the wrong analogy, apparently. It's not like someone stole something you weren't done with. She had no way of knowing he wasn't done with it. She should not have taped something he was performing. End of story.
posted by bleep at 11:37 AM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Notice in his response it's all about HIM and how she should have read his mind, not how his outburst might have affected the woman.
posted by timsneezed at 11:38 AM on January 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


Was there a no videotaping policy in the club? If not, then Oswalt had the right to request that she not tape him, but no right to demand it. And if he's uncomfortable with that, he has the right to perform at other clubs.

Videotaping shows is a fact of life now. There's a certain degree to which its intrusive and can be complained about, and a certain extent to which is must be accommodated. Requesting that somebody not record you, and then fly into a tantrum when they say they will but roll their eyes, and then hurtle abuse at them because they represent every single unsatisfying encounter you have had because of past encounters with videotapers is not professional. Especiallu when that abuse is person, and about their physical details, and they are not their to defend themselves. And it sounds like Oswalt knows he's was wrong to do this, but I did not notice any apology forthcoming, because of the eye roll.

The eye roll means take it up with management to see about clarification about the videotaping policy. Which nobody has done.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:40 AM on January 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


abuse is personal, rather.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:41 AM on January 7, 2012


Interesting. Bigger comics by and large test out new material at small clubs, usually without announcing their presence. This has been happening for a long, long time. They try to find out what works, what doesn't, what timing is right and refine refine refine. It's different than writing a shorty story. I think a better analogy might have been you hand it to your friend/editor for critique and they put it out in the wild without your say so.

Comics need feedback. Should comics only be able to perform in front of the mirror without it being 'out there' and available for critique and viewing? Is it all fair game now?
posted by dig_duggler at 11:45 AM on January 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


think a better analogy might have been you hand it to your friend/editor for critique and they put it out in the wild without your say so.

Only if your friend/editor consists of a room filled with strangers.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:46 AM on January 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


What I keep getting hung up on is that if he doesn't want people recording his material, he needs to do a better job iterating that at the doors of his show, not in the middle of his performances. His entire blog post was an attempt to justify his behavior by restating what happened at The Crystal Ballroom, wherein he -- again -- uses below-the-belt insults to describe the guy recording the content.

I'm sorry, but it takes a really low comedian to make jokes about an audience member's appearances. That's something I'd expect at some cheap nightclub on amateur night, not a highly publicized 'professional'.

If you do not want people recording your new work, don't do your new work in public. Perhaps social media is a bad thing in that regard, but it seems to me Patton's biggest argument here is that he felt threatened in his ability to profit off of this joke in a paid format, which he was intending to do.

I've heard countless Louis CK jokes through YouTube, but that doesn't mean that I don't pay to hear this content again mixed in with new stuff, because I know that comedy is an iterative process and the joke will likely be even better the next time.

If you are a performer, you need to embrace social media. Crying and complaining about inappropriate fans, by continuing to use your power and influence to hurl childish insults at them, is doing it wrong.
posted by june made him a gemini at 11:47 AM on January 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


This is one of the stupidest things I've read in a long time. I don't know who Gray is, but she should stop whining. All all this overidentification with performers/celebrities is bad for you. It should be 'Patton is funny, but he sure is a bastard' and leave it at that.
posted by borges at 11:49 AM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Making fun of someone's looks because you don't like their actions - especially behind their backs, especially as fodder for an act for which you are paid, especially when you are famous and she is a rando, especially straight men doing it about straight women - is so massively dickish and entitled that, honestly, I don't care if he's the second coming of Lenny Bruce, I can't listen to the dude. And the part in his response where he's all "and I guess I have just resented people who are good looking so I took it out on her"...fuck that. It's not even as if this women were good looking - he took out his resentment of pretty women on a plain woman.

Again, fuck that entitled shit.
posted by Frowner at 11:49 AM on January 7, 2012 [45 favorites]


Is... is... he really looking to Harlan Ellison for advice on how to treat fans?

No, I don't think so. I've read the essay he refers to, and it's a collection of horror stories that popular genre writers shared with Ellison about their encounters with "fans" at conventions. I'm not defending Ellison in the least here, trust me, but that essay is quite an eye-opener. Some of the fans he describes are annoying and rude, but some of them are downright horrifying.
posted by middleclasstool at 11:49 AM on January 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


The days of a performance as a Thing We All Experience Together are over. We're well into the era of performance as a Thing We Document and Collect.

Selfishly, as an audience member I wish every venue and performer would adopt the Robert Fripp hard line 'no photography, no recording' attitude. I've had countless about-to-be-magical moments ruined by a flash photo or the blinding LCD viewfinder of the idiot directly in front of me who has to get video onto YouTube ASAP. At least yelling "Free Bird" is a type of attempt at interaction; this recording fetish is a more silent, sinister violation.
posted by mintcake! at 11:53 AM on January 7, 2012 [24 favorites]


Not wanting unauthorized recordings is one thing, but Patton, Honey, it isn't a rough draft any more when you do it on stage. Every audience is final.

This is simply not true for good headlining comedians. While I get what you mean, stand-up comedy isn't like performing a song. While a comedian may be able to get laughs with a classic routine, in general novelty is a necessary component of a successful comedy set. Once a routine hits the Internet, the routine is worth less to the comedian in a very real way, particularly if the comedian has devoted fans like Oswalt has. I've heard several other comedians talk about having to scrap material they were hoping to put on a record because the routine was leaked early. Also, stand-up is built on-stage. The tradition of big-named comedians doing small rooms like this exists precisely so they can hone material in front of an audience, which is the only way to find out if the material works. If doing the small room makes the material worthless to the comedian, what will happen is less big-name comedians doing small rooms, meaning less audience members for small rooms, meaning less small rooms.

This all doesn't mean Oswalt wasn't a dick, as I think he pretty clearly was. But crowd taping is a very big matter of concern for stand-ups.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:55 AM on January 7, 2012 [29 favorites]


Some people treat live entertainment like a gift, either freely given or compensated, and others treat it like amusement at-their-pleasure, like cavorting done in a court for a monarch. If you have an entitled attitude and feel that you can do whatever you want to someone who's performing for you and others, I really can't muster any sympathy if the performer doesn't like something you do.

When someone is performing, especially someone very talented and well-regarded, you sit quietly and you don't interrupt them for banal and selfish reasons. Recording someone, especially with a phone, is a way to turn a very weird kind of gaze against them, which is an interruption of their space and attention. Just because we can do it now and some people do, it doesn't mean that being upset or angry about it is irrational or wrong. To assume that mere technological capacity obviates any issues surrounding the appropriateness of various applications is just silly.
posted by clockzero at 11:58 AM on January 7, 2012 [21 favorites]


Just because we can do it now and some people do, it doesn't mean that being upset or angry about it is irrational or wrong.

I think his anger is entirely justified. I think how he acted on it is reprehensible.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:00 PM on January 7, 2012 [45 favorites]


I think that's entirely reasonable, Bunny Ultramod.
posted by clockzero at 12:01 PM on January 7, 2012


I think his anger is entirely justified. I think how he acted on it is reprehensible.

I think that sums it up nicely.
posted by ob at 12:01 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


"You're going to want this later." Narcissism at its finest.
posted by narcoleptic at 12:02 PM on January 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


I wondered if I'd be the only one who thought, "I'm really not a Patton Oswalt fan, but I was on his side after reading the first link and I agreed with him even more after reading the second." Obviously I'm not. That's interesting.

If you are a performer, you need to embrace social media.

I was a performer. I'm not anymore but just for a quick second here, I'm going to take the liberty to speak on behalf of performers generally. Because we pay attention to some of these discussions about copyright, piracy, YouTube, etc., and occasionally we have some thoughts about it.

Goddamn are we sick of hearing audience members tell us how we "need" to be doing our thing—and doubly, triply, quadruply so when what's at issue is you getting our stuff for free. Not all of us are trying to get on major labels, or Comedy Central, or into the Met. We're totally cool with how we are doing and if you think there's a "better" route, then we enthusiastically encourage you to step up and try that yourself. More art is better for everybody and we'd welcome the fellowship and friendly competition. In the meantime, enjoy the show or not, but redirect your cutting insight into earning yourself a promotion or improving your relationship or something.

[Cue other performers to disagree.]
posted by cribcage at 12:02 PM on January 7, 2012 [15 favorites]


Patton is funny, but he sure is a bastard.
posted by mediated self at 12:04 PM on January 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oswalt's in the right about this, but not for the reasons he thinks. It's the club as a private entity that controls taping inside its walls, and it's almost certain the patron didn't have permission from the club.

If Patton were standing on a street corner doing his act, she would have been free to tape away, and own copyright to that specific instance of tape (but not copyright to the work itself). Seems like very few people understand this difference.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:06 PM on January 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm glad I haven't been to a concert or comedy club since cell phone cameras became the norm. Any clip I see on youtube from a live show is unwatchable not only for the poor quality, but for the cringe-worthy fact that you can't see the show for all the hugely bright cameras being held up.

It's like the performance itself is unimportant, but being able to upload a clip of it later is important. Weird.
posted by maxwelton at 12:07 PM on January 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


The solution is maybe to just have an hour or so worth of mundane "oh look I'm on camera" babbling patter up your sleeve. Make it clear that nobody gets the actual comedy performance they wanted until the recording stops.
posted by idiopath at 12:09 PM on January 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


[Cue other performers to disagree.]

I'm another performer, as well as a playwright, and I don't disagree. Performers are not required to allow any degree of social media into their performances. They have the right to control the space, in the same way that, say, mods have the right to moderate a conversation on their site.

But, in fairness to the audience, they shouldn't expect that an audience member is going to just know what the terms of the performance space is. There are all sorts of performance environments, will all sorts of different and conflicting rules. In the same way that a moderator is going to do their job best when they establish the rules at the start, rather than pull them out after a discussion has started (at which point it is going to seem like they may just be making up rules willy nilly), a performer, or performance space, is going to work better if they establish the rules for behavior at the outset.

Unfortunately, especially with comedy clubs, the owners just sort of let the comics fend for themselves. And so you have some performers who actually encourage recordings and bootlegs, and some who hate it, and some who like a talkative audience and deal well with hecklers, and some who physically threaten anybody who makes a peep during their performance.

In this sort of environment, it's not the women who was an asshole for not knowing Oswalt's idiosyncratic rules about recording (although she was thoughtless to shine a light in his eyes). It was Oswalt show as an asshole for abusing her about it, and not making sure the rules were clarified first.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:09 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree completely with Frowner here: his anger is completely justifiable, but the point where he started to talk shit about the woman's looks is where this crosses the line. No amount of of him being in the right before that will make me think better of him after that. The fact is, going after a woman's looks is a fucking cheap shot -- explain to me why this person was in the wrong, and I'll think better of you for it. Just insult them by taking advantage of the misogynist culture we live in, where even a rather unattractive man can feel safe insulting women's looks, and that just reflects badly on Oswalt.
posted by peacheater at 12:12 PM on January 7, 2012 [14 favorites]


Christ. If an eyeroll is enough to make all "past resentments toward the entitled and beautiful and dismissive and cruel" explode from his being, he's apparently been lucky enough never to have tried stand-up in a comedy club in the UK.

Needs to quit whining about his issues, they're not funny.
posted by howfar at 12:14 PM on January 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


I agree with that. It's discourage to me that Michael Richards can destroy his career by being blatantly racist on stage, but comedians pretty much regularly get away with hideous sexism in performance. Both should be the sort of thing people are called out on the mat for, and not allowed to just get away with "well, I didn't like how they behaved, and they made me angry, so I guess I lashed out."

And make no mistake, going after how pretty the woman in question is is sexism, and quite cruel.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:14 PM on January 7, 2012 [17 favorites]


Oh, were going to start handling the tapers with kid gloves now? What's next, being kind to hecklers? Fuck that noise.
posted by Artw at 12:14 PM on January 7, 2012 [21 favorites]


There may be a middle ground between Oswalt's behavior and handling the offender with kid gloves.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:17 PM on January 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


I'm ambivalent about this. No-one in that comes off looking less of an asshole. Like it or not, and I dislike it, we now live in a world where every jackass has a camera, and not the slightest compunction about using it. "Photographers Rights" has been a bit of a thing on MeFi and BoingBoing and various other discussion sites and the broad consensus has been that if people can go somewhere, they ought to be able to record what happens there in software as well as in their memories.

"Copyright implications" are cutely hilarious. Firstly, the very best bootleg recording of a movie etc is a hundredth of the quality of the movie itself and with the vast majority of those things if the movie itself is any good it prompts the watcher to go see it in a theatre or buy (or yes, download) the DVD. The correlation between downloading and buying digital media is well-established and this is even more the case for live performers, where the experience live is much richer snd any and all recordings function as advertising for those performances.

Broadly speaking photography restrains malice, and the corrupt action of authority; embarrassment of individuals is a worthwhile price to pay. "Celebrities" of various kinds are far more commonly subjected to photography than the rest of the public, because their doings however banal are thought to be worth recording. Also it seems to be the consensus that anyone who breaks any law or ordinance whatsoever loses any right of objection to being photographed doing it. I remember an argument here some time ago where the guy on the other side of the argument was extremely insistent that some meddling busybody had every right to photograph some jackass putting up illegal posters; I'll concede that, however my opposition seemed to be of the opinion that the photographer had an absolute right to record anyone else in the street that he chose, however intrusively he chose to do it.

Personally I deeply dislike being photographed however I realize that the world is frolicking on my lawn in that regard and will frolick ever harder, so I had best realize that it isn't my lawn any more. Control of my image is not longer, if it ever was, my right. Cameraism is winning.

Having a camera pointed at you is currently an intrusive experience, and as Oswalt points out those cameras often have features like little red dots etc that make it even more so. However, we're not far off a world where the cameras will be unintrusive enough that you will not be able to tell that they are there. You already can't tell with microphones. Ubiquitous lifelogging and instant upload are nearly ready to go mainstream.

So I share Oswalt's annoyance, and empathize with his desire to make the woman stop filming. The fact is, though, that the capacity to tell she's doing it, and any reasonable ability to make her actually stop, are both on their way out.

As to the "eye-roll" thing, this is where Oswalt is an asshole. If a person is doing something that is annoying to you, whatever that something is, they are doing it presumably without the realization that it is annoying you (outside of grade school, anyway). Thus, the manner in which you ask them to stop, ought to take that into consideration. Anyone who has been asked to refrain from some ordinary behaviour by some snarling asshole who took objection to it, knows this.

They may agree to stop, they may argue as this woman did, they may refuse (at which point it is your choice to back off or escalate), however you cannot reasonably expect to control their attitude to doing this, as well as them actually doing it. Of course they will resent it. They were doing this thing, you told them to stop, they stopped. They gave you some control over them. Of course they are going to eye-roll at you. It's probably involuntary. Get over it.

And that is where Oswalt's own assholishness shines forth. Publicly excoriating the woman over utterly irrelevant stuff like her looks etc is an act of poor grace much worse than eyerolling.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 12:19 PM on January 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


That woman shouldn't have been taping his show. He had every right to tell her to stop, and if he felt like she was an asshole about it, he had every right to go ahead and call her an asshole.

The fact that he decided that the appropriate way to shame a woman for taping his show was to tell her she's a double-chinned hag? Shitty. It would've been shitty to do that to a young guy, and it's even shittier to do it to an older woman. Gross gross gross.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 12:24 PM on January 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


Another thing, I've never really considered Oswalt to be a kind comedian. I'd place him more towards the Bill Hicks end of the spectrum. Did these people mistake think they were going to see Bob Hope?
posted by narcoleptic at 12:24 PM on January 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


I got the impression that Patton's appearance was more of a drop-in.
posted by mintcake! at 12:26 PM on January 7, 2012


I'd place him more towards the Bill Hicks end of the spectrum.

Exactly, you go to see a comedian known for irreverence and transgression and then get all up in arms when he acts like an asshole? It's ridiculous. Of course he could have handled the situation better, of course he could have been nicer. He didn't, get over it.
posted by borges at 12:29 PM on January 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


This wasn't an advertised "Patton Oswalt Performance". He dropped in to try out some new stuff on an audience. The woman came in off the street when she heard someone famous was in there.
posted by team lowkey at 12:32 PM on January 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't even need to read Patton's response because he's absolutely in the right. People need to put their fucking camera phones away and just enjoy the show. Why must every experience be digitized in some manner for the rest of the world to see? Just stop.
posted by photoslob at 12:32 PM on January 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


I personally wouldn't be as kind towards eye-rolling as you are, aeschenkarnos. I find eye-rolling an especially gross passive-aggressive gesture. Not excusing attacking her appearance, etc.
posted by neuromodulator at 12:33 PM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you sit in the front row at a comedy club, isn't there a risk you might get picked on?

So I don't really get why people are so upset about this, since when is it expected that comedians not be assholes?

There was an episode of Louie where Louie goes after a heckler in a really mean way, saying much harsher things then patten said, although that was obviously fiction -- it was probably what he wished he could say. And there's that clip of Bill Hicks absolutely flipping out. The other difference is that those were hecklers, not cinematographers.

But whatever.
posted by delmoi at 12:33 PM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Bill Hicks

/pulls Scooby Doo mask off of asshole taper, reveals Denis Leary.
posted by Artw at 12:34 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oswalt doesn't come close to the Bill Hicks end of the spectrum.
posted by mediated self at 12:35 PM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's a very funny scene in Talledegada Nights where Will Ferrell's character is called out for using the phrase "with all due respect" as though it magically gave him the right to say whatever offensive thing he wanted to. Being a "transgressive comedian" doesn't work that way either. At best, it gives you some limited extra leeway as long as you are funny. Outside of being funny, you're just another rude asshole.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 12:35 PM on January 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


Being a "transgressive comedian" doesn't work that way either. At best, it gives you some limited extra leeway as long as you are funny.
But who made you the arbiter of what responses are appropriate or not? Why should Patton Oswalt care what you think?
posted by delmoi at 12:39 PM on January 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Making fun of someone's looks because you don't like their actions - especially behind their backs, especially as fodder for an act for which you are paid, especially when you are famous and she is a rando, especially straight men doing it about straight women - is so massively dickish and entitled that, honestly, I don't care if he's the second coming of Lenny Bruce, I can't listen to the dude.

Have you ever been to a comedy show before? You do know how stand-up works, right?
posted by empath at 12:40 PM on January 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


Being a "transgressive comedian" doesn't work that way either. Why should Patton Oswalt care what you think?

Jesus. You know, people are entitled to have, and express, an opinion about comedy. Whether or not Oswalt cares is rather beside the point.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:40 PM on January 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


As to the "eye-roll" thing, this is where Oswalt is an asshole. If a person is doing something that is annoying to you, whatever that something is, they are doing it presumably without the realization that it is annoying you (outside of grade school, anyway).

I agree with this. On the other hand -- some performers are not unknown to be assholes, and in fact it's part of their appeal, such as it is. I really don't understand this notion that you go in the doors of a comedy club and expect to be immune from insulted. Sure, Oswalt's barbs were probably shitty, assholish comments, and we need fewer instances of misogyny in general -- in movies, on TV, in fiction, from the mouths of Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh and other public figures far more famous than the burgeoning celebrity Patton Oswalt, all around. But if you're in a venue like that and you do something -- anything -- the comic doesn't like (it doesn't have to be taping him with your cellphone, it can just be sitting there in clothes the comic thinks are dorky) and you don't expect to be picked on and/or called out and/or humiliated publicly, repeatedly if necessary, and possibly in very socially maladaptive/inappropriate ways, why are you there to begin with? We (USians, anyhow) live now in what is a very harsh, astringent, abrasive, insult-driven culture. There are conversations to be had about that not being the optimal culture to have, but it's also what we've got.

Outside of being funny, you're just another rude asshole.

Barbara Gray said that she and all the other folks in the Palace thought he was being both funny AND an asshole. They were uncomfortable and laughing at the same time. Not that that means that Oswalt is any less of an asshole.
posted by blucevalo at 12:40 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Being a "transgressive comedian" doesn't work that way either. At best, it gives you some limited extra leeway as long as you are funny.

The other side of this is that, if you're going to be rude within your role as a comedian, and people don't like it, you have two options. The first is to stay in role and ignore it, say "fuck you", whatever. The second is to say you feel you went to far, apologise and shut up.

What you don't do is what Oswalt has done, which is to try to explain your comedic persona in terms of your personal life, problems and feelings. If you do that, all you're really doing is admitting to a lack of craft, and then making excuses for it. Either what Oswalt did was a misstep in the performance or it wasn't, saying "but you didn't see what I did" highlights, rather than excuses, the misstep.
posted by howfar at 12:43 PM on January 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's not about kindness, neuromodulator, it's about drawing the line of control over other people between their external behaviour and their internal thoughts. If I want you to sit down I can provide you a chair and politely ask you, I can offer you money to sit down, I can dispute your arguments agsinst it, I can prevail on your sense of social politeness and regard for those behind you, I can point to authoritative signs that say "please be seated", I can tell you to sit down or I will harm you, I can hit you and make you need to sit down, I could even tie you to that chair; but no matter what incentives I give or how willing you are to go along with my request, there is nothing I can do to make you actually want to sit down. Your desire to do so is internal. Your resentment of it affects me only inasmuch as it affects the probability of you sitting down. Otherwise, I really don't care. It's none of my business what you think of me for it.

People who try to directly control (as opposed to respectfully influence) others' internal thoughts as well as their external actions, and Patton Oswalt is clearly in the category of such people, really irk me. That is something you have no right to do.

She turned off the camera; that is enough.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 12:49 PM on January 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Patton's response is inseparable from the fact that he was telling a very personal story about his youth that he had reservations about telling in the first place. He was feeling vulnerable. Like an adult who acts like a teenager when they go back home to visit their parents, Patton probably reverted a little bit to his younger self.

His response involved a lot of projection onto the woman filming. It sounds like he was angry at all the pretty girls who laughed at him, not just this particular woman.
posted by mokin at 12:49 PM on January 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Jesus. You know, people are entitled to have, and express, an opinion about comedy. Whether or not Oswalt cares is rather beside the point.
I didn't say people can't have opinions, I just don't get why those opinions need to be stated as universals. like "It doesn't work that way" what's "it" here? why does "it" matter?

Same with this:
What you don't do is what Oswalt has done, which is to try to explain your comedic persona in terms of your personal life, problems and feelings. If you do that, all you're really doing is admitting to a lack of craft, and then making excuses for it. Either what Oswalt did was a misstep in the performance or it wasn't, saying "but you didn't see what I did" highlights, rather than excuses, the misstep.
Well, why not? I didn't get the sense that he was even trying to be funny in the blog post, he was trying to explain what happened sincerely. In which case "It wasn't funny" isn't really a relevant critique.
posted by delmoi at 12:49 PM on January 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I like people who rip the unholy shit out of annoying people. I think it's healthy and righteous. I just wish I found this guy funny, too.
posted by Decani at 12:49 PM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I like people who rip the unholy shit out of annoying people. I think it's healthy and righteous. I just wish I found this guy funny, too.

Decani: The blog post wasn't supposed to be funny, he was trying to explain his actions in a sincere way. Why would you expect it to be funny?
posted by delmoi at 12:52 PM on January 7, 2012


Dave Mustaine was an asshole to me once. I still like some of his music, though.
posted by drezdn at 12:53 PM on January 7, 2012


Delmoi, you are the last person who ought to be objecting to people stating their personal opinions, without explicitly caveat-ing them with an acknowledgment of it just being their opinion. You almost exclusively argue in declarative statements yourself. Get over it or MetaTalk it.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 12:53 PM on January 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


Well, why not? I didn't get the sense that he was even trying to be funny in the blog post, he was trying to explain what happened sincerely.

Well sure, he's allowed to say what he wants. I just think him presenting himself as helpless in the face of a raised eyebrow is presenting himself as a bad stand-up. He was the guy with the mic, the person people were excited to be seeing. Saying "but but she was bullying me, like I was bullied at school" is fine if that's what you want to say, it just makes you sound like a wimp with too little stagecraft. But that's not my problem.
posted by howfar at 12:54 PM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


i don't seem to see people mentioning the bright light that the camera phone had. Those are fucking annoying in any situation. I have a friend who has an android phone (not sure if the iphones do this, don't have a 3rd gen one even) and he was bragging about the light and shinning it in my eyes. The woman was a douche, and patton got pushed to the edge. She deserved it, she brought the insults to herself with her actions and behavior.

"Copyright implications" are cutely hilarious

What? This makes no sense. There are laws that are to be obeyed. Most of the complaints about photographers rights are when government and police keep photographers from capturing transgressions. (hilarious, police brutality, i guess) Any photographer worth their salt knows about usage rights, model releases, etc. Where this falls. Not to mention "you'll want this later" bs that some seem believe. I've seen too many of those "citizen reporters" who don't have the slightest idea how to shoot anything (minutes of shaky footage, most of feet as they are running or panning like crazy, or zooming beyond the camera's ability to keep it steady or properly focused).

I'm curious if those defending this woman would like it if people showed up where they worked, shined bright lights in their faces, and acted like douches.
posted by usagizero at 12:56 PM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think most people here have no idea how standup comedians at Patton's level of popularity and success work. And probably that lady didn't either. The blog author probably does, but since she's not there yet, she's not sympathetic to it.

You can't just pop out an hour long special. So, comedians often do these unannounced unpaid pop-ins at small clubs to develop material. It is precisely an unfinished working draft. The routine you see on tv or dvd is the finished product. But it's public, you say. Well, yeah, there's just no other way to develop a routine. You can't do it without some feedback.
posted by mad bomber what bombs at midnight at 12:57 PM on January 7, 2012 [12 favorites]


No one loves Harlan Ellison more than me, but when you justify your behavior by pointing to something he wrote about other people's behavior, man...fuck. Sometimes it's okay to just take the zero, brother.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:59 PM on January 7, 2012


Delmoi, you are the last person who ought to be objecting to people stating their personal opinions, without explicitly caveat-ing them with an acknowledgment of it just being their opinion. You almost exclusively argue in declarative statements yourself. Get over it or MetaTalk it.
Okay, well can you explain what you meant by "it"? when you said "It doesn't work that way"? I still don't know.

I'm sorry if you can't handle people disagreeing with you.
posted by delmoi at 1:01 PM on January 7, 2012


No one is defending this woman. I think most people agree that she didn't come off that great here. What I disagree with is that Oswalt managed to justify his reaction with his blogpost in response -- I don't think anything he's said there justifies the way in which he reacted to the woman -- with insulting remarks about her appearance, which is really neither here nor there, but just an easy way to insult a woman in this climate. What he's saying is basically, she's an ugly hasbeen, pay no attention to her -- that is sexist and makes me lose sympathy for him. Saying a man is ugly is not equivalent -- when you insult a woman's looks, you're basically insulting her very worth in the culture we live in. That's the only reason it has any sting. That's just not ok.
posted by peacheater at 1:01 PM on January 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


Delmoi, you are the last person who ought to be objecting to people stating their personal opinions, without explicitly caveat-ing them with an acknowledgment of it just being their opinion. You almost exclusively argue in declarative statements yourself.

There's really no purpose in calling out individual people ("you are the last person who ought to be x"), is there? Holy cow.
posted by blucevalo at 1:06 PM on January 7, 2012


What I disagree with is that Oswalt managed to justify his reaction with his blogpost in response -- I don't think anything he's said there justifies the way in which he reacted to the woman -- with insulting remarks about her appearance, which is really neither here nor there, but just an easy way to insult a woman in this climate.
I'm not really sure he was trying to justify his behavior specifically, but rather just explain it. I didn't read what he wrote as "here's why she deserved this" but rather "Here's why I had such a strong reaction to this".

It seems like the thing that really set him off was the sarcastic response. Obviously, it can effect people differently, but if you're already annoyed it can really get under your skin.
posted by delmoi at 1:07 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, look in the mirror before you comment on someone’s looks. You look like a “pasty goblin”, for fucks sake. And that’s a direct quote, from someone who I used to look up to.

Anyone
posted by Brocktoon at 1:07 PM on January 7, 2012


Okay, so a few things to clarify here:

1. It seems clear from all accounts of this that he was workshopping his material. This means he wasn't getting paid for his performance, as has been implied above, and which he references in his response. He's dropping in, for free, and the people there get the treat of having a susprise performance from a comedian they probably wouldn't see otherwise. This is common to the point of standard for comedians, even the biggest ones. I've been at the Comedy Cellar when Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle dropped in completely independent of one another on the same night. Seinfeld and C.K. and many others drop in there as well. It seems like The Palace is where you do this in L.A. (or at least one of several places in L.A.)

2. If you go to a comedy show you take the risk of taking abuse. It is part of the contract of going to the show. You don't have to say a word for this to happen - and in fact it has hapened to me more often than not when going to a comedy club (again, most often the Cellar.)

3. Hecklers and the like get almost strict liability against them. Basically, anything short of Michael Richards' reaction and I (and most patrons) will be pretty firmly on the comic's side in the matter. They absolutely HAVE to control the space. Not just in a "no cameras" sort of way, either. They have to control the rhythm and mood and flow of everything up there, and this is particularly tough when workshopping material, because one asshole throwing off the balance of the room can make the night a waste, as it seemingly did here.

4. It's not a secret that Patton Oswalt - who I understand is a super nice guy in real life - goes fucking nuclear against hecklers and the like. There's a moment on Werewolves and Lollipops which shows just how far he'll destroy a guy just for making a weird noise during his set. (The relevant part is at about 4:00.) That said, he didn't need to take this in the direction he did.

5. Oswalt response TOTALLY agrees with that last statement. He realizes it was the wrong thing to do, and ugly, and that he was an asshole in that regard. He explains that the double-chinned hag shit was about his own insecurities and not cool.

6. Oswalt is really good about taking criticism well, and responding to it evenhandedly while trying to diffuse bad blood, as shown a few years back with the internet feud between him and David Cross.

So I don't like the way he handled it, but my sympathies are more with him. And I like that he didn't call out Barbara Gray with this so much as use the moment to bring her to the attention of people who wouldn't have heard of her. That was cool and unexpeccted.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:08 PM on January 7, 2012 [29 favorites]


I'm another performer, as well as a playwright, and I don't disagree. Performers are not required to allow any degree of social media into their performances. They have the right to control the space, in the same way that, say, mods have the right to moderate a conversation on their site.

Moderating comments happens because everyone in the audience has an intentional voice and having those voices heard is important. If you're paying for a performance, however, you are expected to be quiet and enjoy that performance. Venue staff need to ensure cameras are either put away or that they highlight that devices with lights cannot be used. If the staff don't do it in a reasonable amount of time, the performer has every right to bring to light that the offender and make them look a fool.

However, it's pretty ballsy to just walk into a joint unannounced, get on stage and start performing for people who are unaware of your schtick, and then get all peeved that they're not happy about you railing some woman who did what you asked her to.

Oswalt knew posting it on Twitter would result in his fans automatically assuming the woman was in the wrong and deserved her physical appearance to be mocked, even after she walked out of the door because he has the type of fans that think that kind of behavior is funny and "in-the-right" (as everyone keeps stating here). By posting it himself, it alleviated him from having to deal with the backlash that would have stemmed from ignoring it and having people bring it up to him themselves, or worse, having a media outlet pick it up and go from there.

He understands that his fans enjoy his bullish behavior and that they wouldn't even need to read the full article, that there'd just be a mob mentality about the whole situation that he could dictate himself so long as he had the first and final words.

He knew that if he framed his post as "You wouldn't get it unless you were there," that it would make him look like the good guy, and make it seem as if private citizens don't have the right to be offended by blatant assholishness -- stand-up comedy or not. He knew that if he tried to put it in the perspective of "being in his shoes" by exposing himself as a performer that can't act responsibly on stage when something goes awry (which should be expected in every live performance of any form) that fans would empathize.

It would be one thing if the audience knew him and his work and paid to be there, but most of them probably didn't. The article writer herself cites herself as a fan, but notes how silent and awkward things were after this incident occurred and how messed up the situation was. That Oswalt would then go and try to save face by bringing in factors no one in that room had any awareness of is completely ridiculous, even if that had been a room of his paying and adoring fans.

Thankfully, this thread has put me off to Patton and anyone who finds him humorous. The justifications of his behavior here and people stating that insulting a woman's looks is fair game are not women. You have no idea what it is like living day-to-day knowing that the only reason some people talk to you is how you look. You have no idea what it is like knowing that behaviors are shifted based on your face and your figure.
posted by june made him a gemini at 1:09 PM on January 7, 2012 [12 favorites]


And he does say he could have handled it better himself:
To make it even more infuriating, she then said -- after I politely objected -- "You're going to want this later," as if she were the rational, intelligent one in this exchange, and I was some neophyte who was doing his first open mike. Yes, that's egotistical of me to say, but fuck it. I've been doing this for twenty three years. Ego was what got me started.
...and later...
But what you didn't see was her say, "I'm deleting it now" with the same, withering smirk I saw in the Crystal Ballroom. In other words, "I'm not deleting this, and fuck you."

And you didn't see her roll her eyes at her two friends, who rolled their eyes back, and nodded in agreement when she mouthed, "What an asshole."

Now, from that point and beyond, I should've kept my cool. And I didn't. All of my past resentments toward the entitled and beautiful and dismissive and cruel and, especially, the ones who confuse a "dark sense of humor" with "being mean" -- all of these resentments rocketed out of my pores likes bats fleeing a collapsing cave. That part, the eruption that continued even after they left? That's on me. I should've been cooler.
posted by delmoi at 1:12 PM on January 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Okay, well can you explain what you meant by "it"? when you said "It doesn't work that way"? I still don't know.

Being a transgressive comedian means that your comedy act is well-known to be confronting or annoying or contain lots of special nasty word in it or something. You're funny enough that you're not thought of badly for doing this. Any time you're not actually funny, though, you risk losing the protection of being a "known transgressive comedian" and to have whatever it was you said or did judged on its merits. It's like the difference between the actions of Ben Stiller's character in Meet The Parents, and somebody actually busting a sewer line. The audience will laugh along, for a bit, because it is expected of them, and then will come the uncomfortable silences.

I'm sorry if you can't handle people disagreeing with you.
Assume that anything I say is up for disagreement and is just my opinion.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 1:15 PM on January 7, 2012


Two people, both apparently acting the asshole. Patton has a chance to win some points by owning up to it, which he does (after defending himself). We don't know who the woman is, so we don't know how she would defend herself and she doesn't have a chance to own up to anything. Opinions on who is the bigger asshole could change completely depending on what she would say, or not say, if we knew who she was. But we don't. Did your opinion change, even if it was further in the same direction, between reading Barbara's account and Patton's account? Even Barbara's opinion probably changed after reading Patton's account, even though she was there and saw everything first hand. The ability to speak and be heard means the story doesn't end with the initial event.

It's like the performance itself is unimportant, but being able to upload a clip of it later is important. Weird.

Two young adults, intimate, head touching head. He is looking at her, she is looking at the camera she is holding. She is smiling radiantly. She wants you to know that she is happy. That's why she's taking the picture, and that's why she's going to post it on Facebook. She's genuinely happy, but is she happy because he loves her, or is she happy because she thinks that you will think that he loves her? How do you know if it's love? If all your Facebook friends say "aww," and "how adorable," is it love?

A person is complicated and finite, but an image is simple and lives forever.
posted by the atomic kung fu panda bandit inquisition at 1:15 PM on January 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


If you're paying for a performance, however, you are expected to be quiet and enjoy that performance.

I'm sorry, but this is a counterfactual statement. There are hundreds of types of performance -- including comedy -- where you are expected to be an active, rather than passive, participant. And the passive model of being an audience member is something of a historical anomaly, and there are a lot of communities where it has never really taken root.

Also, personally, I dislike this model. It treats the audience as having no rights to respond to an audience except with two behaviors: silence, or applause. I come from the school of performance that says if you want either, you have to earn them.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:17 PM on January 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


to a performer, rather.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:18 PM on January 7, 2012


One of your heroes turns out to not act like you want him to.

Imagine that.
posted by gcbv at 1:23 PM on January 7, 2012


Who ever called Patton Oswalt a hero?
posted by blucevalo at 1:24 PM on January 7, 2012


I've got to disagree with you there, Bunny. The cues are NOT hard to pick up at a comedy show, and generally speaking there WILL be policies clearly stated if not written down at every table that you don't fuck with the performers. This isn't just for the benefit of the performers, but for the 99% of audience members who came to see the show and not the hackler/asshole. Some comics do a lot of crowdwork (Rich Vos, Todd Barry) while others do none at all (Dave Attel) but it's never really in doubt when the situation is one or the other, because the crowd knows that the performer is in control.

One of my favorite Brian Posehn bits (paraphrasing) goes:
I went to church and the preacher, man, he loves to talk. But he doesn't like it when you talk, though. Like I was in church the other day and the preacher got to a pause and all I did was stand up and say, "HEY! I SMELL ASS!"
A comedy club operates remarkably like a church does. You might participate now and then, but you'll know when it's appropriate to do so. Otherwise, you might as well be standing up declaring that you smell ass.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:26 PM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


http://www.google.com/search?q="patton+oswalt+is+my+hero"
posted by defenestration at 1:27 PM on January 7, 2012


I think most people here have no idea how standup comedians at Patton's level of popularity and success work. And probably that lady didn't either. The blog author probably does, but since she's not there yet, she's not sympathetic to it.

She apparently thinks she's enough there that she can have Patton Oswalt do a private show in her house.
posted by kafziel at 1:28 PM on January 7, 2012


The cues are NOT hard to pick up at a comedy show, and generally speaking there WILL be policies clearly stated if not written down at every table that you don't fuck with the performers.

I was speaking of performance broadly, but I have been in enough bars with comedy nights, and comedy shows thrown at VFW halls, and county fairs, and the upstairs of Chinese Restaurants, and improv comedy theaters, and rock and roll venues, to say that what you describe happens at a minority of the comedy venues I have been to.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:30 PM on January 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


She apparently thinks she's enough there that she can have Patton Oswalt do a private show in her house.

I don't follow. Are you under the misapprehension that the blog author was the woman filming?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:31 PM on January 7, 2012


Oh, and I want to make a distinction here in how I read his meltdown response at the club, with the disclaimer that I don't think said response was cool or right...

From what I can tell reading the two accounts it wasn't exactly about misogyny, but rather this woman responding to his request to delete the clip with a reaction of entitlement, which Oswalt read to be entitlement based on her self-perceived attractiveness, which set something off in him and that's why he spent his rant cutting that down.

Again, not the right choice, and the distinction may well be meaningless, but that's how I read it.

And Bunny, fair enough. Our worlds of where we have seen comedy nights are vastly different. Point taken.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:35 PM on January 7, 2012


I don't disagree with you, by the way. My point is that people go into performances from a variety of backgrounds, some of which are more tolerant of, say, videotaping. I don't know whether this venue had an explicitly stated policy against it, and that's the sort of thing that should be clarified with management if they don't. Then it's easy enough for a performer to say "I'm sorry, ma'am, we have a no videotaping policy here." If they don't pay attention at that point, I say throw them out.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:38 PM on January 7, 2012


Also, personally, I dislike this model. It treats the audience as having no rights to respond to an audience except with two behaviors: silence, or applause. I come from the school of performance that says if you want either, you have to earn them.

Having to earn applause, absolutely. Having to earn silence? That's pretty ridiculous. You earn that just by being willing to put yourself out there on a stage for other peoples' entertainment. It's certainly possible to go on to lose that respect after stepping out on stage (typically by being fucking awful), but by default audience members should be basically quiet and respectful. If they can't or won't do that, they're jerks, full stop.

I don't follow. Are you under the misapprehension that the blog author was the woman filming?

Err, pretty sure kafziel was referring to this line from the first article:

I run another show in my house called One-Two Punch that is very special to me, that I was hoping to ask Patton to do last night.

Which yeah, when she says her house, she apparently does mean her house.
posted by mstokes650 at 1:38 PM on January 7, 2012


Being a transgressive comedian means that your comedy act is well-known to be confronting or annoying or contain lots of special nasty word in it or something. You're funny enough that you're not thought of badly for doing this. Any time you're not actually funny, though, you risk losing the protection of being a "known transgressive comedian" and to have whatever it was you said or did judged on its merits. It's like the difference between the actions of Ben Stiller's character in Meet The Parents, and somebody actually busting a sewer line. The audience will laugh along, for a bit, because it is expected of them, and then will come the uncomfortable silences.
Alright, I see what you're saying. But that's just true in general. If you're jokes aren't funny, there's going to be awkward silence no matter how polite you are. The other thing, though, is that lots of people like mean humor. But if people behind the woman filming didn't see her smirk then they wouldn't get the context of his insults, and might find them overly insulting.
posted by delmoi at 1:39 PM on January 7, 2012


this woman responding to his request to delete the clip with a reaction of entitlement, which Oswalt read to be entitlement based on her self-perceived attractiveness

When you put it like that it sounds really like misogyny to me. He looked at a woman's appearance and judged her personality and motivations as malign.
posted by howfar at 1:39 PM on January 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm not a fan of Oswalt's. He ruined The United States of Tara for me, and he gets too much fawning exposure from his mates at the Onion AVClub. Still, I think his explanation was fairly reasonable.

But anyway! allow me a mo to boost The Palace restaurant in Los Feliz which used to be my local go-to Chinese. The food is OK, but what it really has going is its old school feel. Come for for the soup dumplings, stay for the cozy old-fashioned Glengarry Glen Ross atmosphere!

come to think of it, a remake of that play with stand-up comedians in Hollywood instead of Florida real estate salesmen could be pretty interesting.
posted by Bwithh at 1:39 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you're paying for a performance, however, you are expected to be quiet and enjoy that performance.

I'm sorry, but this is a counterfactual statement. ...

posted by Bunny Ultramod


Just a nitpick, but for that statement to be counterfactual, you would need to have not paid for the performance.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:39 PM on January 7, 2012


I apologize for my misabuse of the English Languish.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:40 PM on January 7, 2012


In other news Bill Hicks was a Nazi sympathizer.
posted by borges at 1:40 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


From what I can tell reading the two accounts it wasn't exactly about misogyny, but rather this woman responding to his request to delete the clip with a reaction of entitlement, which Oswalt read to be entitlement based on her self-perceived attractiveness, which set something off in him and that's why he spent his rant cutting that down.
WTF, though. Why would he read it as entitlement based on her self-perceived attractiveness? I mean, that's a really weird reading of obnoxious behavior by a woman. Does he have any reason to think that, other than projecting his own hangups?
posted by craichead at 1:44 PM on January 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


When you put it like that it sounds really like misogyny to me. He looked at a woman's appearance and judged her personality and motivations as malign.

Well, he looked at her eyeroll and her mouthed "what an asshole" along with her appearance and judged her personality and motivations to be malign, but I see your point.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:44 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


And no, craichead, aside from, again, the eyeroll and mouthed "what an asshole" he doesn't, and he himself concedes that it was about his own hangups.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:46 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


am I the only one that wants my comedians - and journalists for that matter - to be assholes? When the fuck did it become important for these creatures to be likeable? As far as I'm concerned if your profession relies on telling the truth and a person with an ounce of power doesn't shiver when they hear your name for fear of getting caught in your crosshairs you are a fraud.
posted by any major dude at 1:49 PM on January 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


Well, he looked at her eyeroll and her mouthed "what an asshole" along with her appearance and judged her personality and motivations to be malign, but I see your point.
Wait, is there something about rolling your eyes and mouthing "what an asshole" that signals that you think you're hot shit?

Pointing out that a woman is not beautiful is a method of humiliating women that cannot be used against men. It only works because women are expected to be beautiful and are judged and shamed and made out to be trash if they are not. Oswalt was willing to use that fucked-up fact as a weapon to hurt a woman he disliked. That's kind of shitty. He ought to be a lot more ashamed of himself than that response makes it sound like he is.
posted by craichead at 1:51 PM on January 7, 2012 [27 favorites]


Yes. I'm not even saying that he was necessarily in the wrong to have a go at her if she acted like a dick, this was a comedy club, she can fight back or suck it up*. However, it is odd that his defense seems almost to use misogynistic feeling as a defence for saying misogynistic things. He may think he is the victim in the system that tells women to base their self esteem on their appearance, but he'd be wrong.

*Although the use of sexist and misogynist language is over-tolerated in comedy and society generally, if we compare it to other language about other characteristics.
posted by howfar at 1:56 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wait, is there something about rolling your eyes and mouthing "what an asshole" that signals that you think you're hot shit?

Yes. This is the only way I can interpret this person's actions.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:56 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pointing out that a woman is not beautiful is a method of humiliating women that cannot be used against men.

Plenty of comics will trash funny-looking or fat male hecklers. I'll agree that there's a higher bar for women to clear (in that "plain" men are immune in a way that "plain" women aren't), but looks-based insults are not exclusively used against women.
posted by Etrigan at 1:57 PM on January 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


That's not the point. Of course looks-based insults are sometimes used against men (though a lot less often than they're used against women). However in a culture in where a woman's worth is often measured by her appearance, insulting a woman's appearance has a special sting that allows them to be used indiscriminately against women, as a universal putdown. It's a way of dismissing a woman.
posted by peacheater at 2:00 PM on January 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


I occasionally get paid to talk in front of people, and other times I tour to promote work I have for sale, which again puts me in front of a respectable number of people. My own experience with it has been that if you make it clear to people up front what the expectations are, they will generally respect that.

As an example, when I toured last May to support my most recent novel, I would read an excerpt from the novel I had just finished. I made it clear to folks that the excerpt that I was reading was for them and them only, because since they had been kind enough to come out, they deserved a special preview no one else would get. Then I made them raise their right hand and swear themselves to double secret secrecy (i.e., so it was silly but still made the point). I also very specifically asked them not to reveal the title. Over a three week tour I did the reading for hundreds of people, but between the tour and the time we finally announced the book title, there was only one online leak of the title (from someone who came in late and hear me ask people not to talk about it, and he took it down as soon as I asked), and none of the content of the excerpt. This despite other parts of my presentations going up on Youtube and being discussed in forums and so on and so so forth.

Now, it's possible that this worked for me because I'm in a tranche of micro-celebrity where people will still feel like they and I are in this together. That said, I think there's something to be said for just saying to people "hey, these are the ground rules, please respect that and I'll make sure you have a great time." And then if they still ignore you and the ground rules, no one will be surprised or think you an asshole if you give them grief for it.
posted by jscalzi at 2:01 PM on January 7, 2012 [15 favorites]


Again, I agree that using her looks was shitty. The point I was making, I guess, is that I've seen a ton of lesser comics (Joe Rogan would be a good example, but comics in his mold are a dime a dozen and a source of the rampant misogyny which infects the stand-up world) who would have more likely responded with something like, "why am I taking shit from a bitch like you" and then gone off on a rant about women being objects to them. This seems slightly different to me, though not necessarily any better, in that it doesn't seem like it was Oswalt trying to dismiss women, but trying to focus his vitriol on this one particular woman as harshly as he could.

If I were to diagram what I'm seeing here:

1. Patton Oswalt, like almost all of us, went to High School. He knows the look that the attractive use against the unnatractive or the cool against the uncool in order to show them their place.
2. Patton was doing a bit about something really embarrasing from, you know, presumably his time in high school or thereabouts, which he was really nervous about. He was already in that high school frame of mind while doing this bit.
3. He gets into an altercation with this woman, wherein she gives him that look from step one here, which sets him off, for one, and which also wrests control of his performance from him.
4. He responds by wresting control back, attacking what he perceives as the basis for the way she took him down, in his eyes.

Again, likely a distinction without a difference. Frat Boy misogyny vs. "Nice Guy" misogyny. Maybe it is. I'm biased as a big Patton Oswalt fan and I have an instinct towards defending people (and were we getting the woman's side of the story there'd likely be more for me to try to defend.)

He didn't respond appropriately, but I kind of understand how he went off the rails in that regard and why he went in the direction he did.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:12 PM on January 7, 2012 [15 favorites]


In other news Bill Hicks was a Nazi sympathizer.

Nobody ever heckled the Nazis!
posted by Ritchie at 2:25 PM on January 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


That's not the point. Of course looks-based insults are sometimes used against men (though a lot less often than they're used against women). However in a culture in where a woman's worth is often measured by her appearance, insulting a woman's appearance has a special sting that allows them to be used indiscriminately against women, as a universal putdown. It's a way of dismissing a woman.

Right, because mens' worth is never measured by their appearance.
posted by kafziel at 2:26 PM on January 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Right, because mens' worth is never measured by their appearance.

Not only is that not what was said, but, in fact, the opposite was said.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:30 PM on January 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Right, because mens' worth is never measured by their appearance.

Presumably, Patton Oswalt's worth is not. And while he may have been flashing back to high school in the moment, in present day reality he is a successful Hollywood actor. So he's basically saying that he can be successful despite his appearance but that a woman's success or failure is entirely contingent upon whether she's attractive.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:31 PM on January 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


Nobody ever heckled the Nazis!

It's good to be the Führer.
posted by maryr at 2:32 PM on January 7, 2012


The rough consensus here seems to be that Mr. Oswalt was in the right to get mad about the filming and attitude, but in the wrong about how he expressed that.

It seems to me that he would agree with that consensus.

So, that's all settled then, right?
posted by kavasa at 2:40 PM on January 7, 2012 [15 favorites]


Right, because mens' worth is never measured by their appearance.
I've read men's looks actually a bigger impact on their wages then woman's.
posted by delmoi at 2:43 PM on January 7, 2012


I once had a lot of respect for Oswald, but can't help wondering if his fame has gone to his head. Meh, whatever, there are loads of talented comedians out there to watch, instead.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:00 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oswalt, damn autocorrect.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:01 PM on January 7, 2012


If you sit in the front row at a comedy club, isn't there a risk you might get picked on?

So I don't really get why people are so upset about this, since when is it expected that comedians not be assholes?


Two years ago, Heywood Banks appeared at a local comedy club. Now, I love the guy. He has a reputation for being unkind to hecklers, though, and if you're going to see him, you'd better know when to STFD and STFU.

So Heywood performs some new stuff, then starts with the old favorites, including Big Butter Jesus, which, if you live in Ohio, will bring you to tears from laughing so hard, because what a monstrosity that thing was. A woman in the front row yelled at him "HOW DARE YOU MAKE FUN OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR??" And Heywood asked her if her lord and savior was a big ugly statue in Cincinnati? She continued to complain about "persecution".

Yeah, that was dumb. He spent the rest of the evening asking her before every song if she thought it would be OK with Big Butter if he played the next song. She threatened to complain to the management, and old Heywood pointed out the venue manager standing at the back of the house. She called him an asshole, and he smiled and said "Yes ma'am."

(She probably had an aneurysm when this came out.)
posted by MissySedai at 3:01 PM on January 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


On a tangent, I've long been curious about what could have been going through Michael Richards' head during his career-destroying moment. I mean, it was just such a weird moment. As opposed to Patton Oswalt, I have no respect for Richards and no interest in reforming his image whatsoever, but the footage just struck me as so off and odd that ehever I think back on it I try to make sense of it and fail.

I mean, obviously there was racism there, because one doesn't scream "you're a nigger" over and over again from on-stage without that being an element, but something about it makes me feel like that was an oddly minor element in the meltdown, even if it was the most hideously present surface element.

Like, for one, how much did having spent a decade in TV stardom vs. being actually on stage fuck with his belief in what he could get away with?

How much did he internalize the belief that a comic could literally say anything to a heckler and keep the crowd on their side?

Was he (and I suspect he might have been) attempting to riff on the famous Chris Rock bit? Without realizing that no one thinks that is acceptable coming from Kramer?

Had he gone whatever the comedians' version of "blood simple" is?

Was he even fully conscious when he was doing it?
posted by Navelgazer at 3:06 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


But, in fairness to the audience, they shouldn't expect that an audience member is going to just know what the terms of the performance space is.

This is true to an extent, but I do think that part of Oswalt's complaint is that there is a very real tone-deafness brought on by new media possibilities that many in the current generation are not attending to critically. It is fueled by a solely self-centered perspective that probably isn't thinking a whit about what the performer might prefer. I think Oswalt would agree that he overreacted, but I think that lack of general care that is downright dismissive is where much of his frustration is coming from. And honestly, every time I try to enjoy a public movie or performance these days and there are people using electronic devices in a distracting way and either don't give a damn or seek revenge on those who say anything about it, I think I feel frustration bubbling up from a similar space. It's not the damage done as the attitude of disdain that suggests people shouldn't be saying anything about it in the first place. It's the lack of corporate sensitivity. "This is my space and that is your space. Who are you to say anything to me?"
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:10 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've read men's looks actually a bigger impact on their wages then woman's.

A quick look at Google suggests this to be false, or at least not settled. This article quotes a study claim that:

For the median male in 1996 working full-time, the respective penalty and [beauty] premium amounted to approximately $2,600 and $1,400 annually. The corresponding penalty and premium for the median female worker are $2,000 and $1,100.1

Once you've accounted for the fact that women's wages are roughly 3/4 of that earned by men, there's no real difference at all.

But even that doesn't settle the matter, because the real question is what impact does beauty have on household income in men and women. I can't see any direct comparisons at first glance. Any help out there?
posted by howfar at 3:16 PM on January 7, 2012


Another interesting thing I'm making a mental note of is that David Cross, generally seen as an asshole, is way kinder to hecklers and disrupters of his sets than most comics are. I wonder if, because Cross famously plays only arenas if at all possible, he just expects a different level of rowdiness and suffers it to a greater degree. (I also wonder where he workshops his material. I know he loves NY and hates LA and lives in NY when he can, but I've never seen him around, and he hates clubs, so I just don't know.)
posted by Navelgazer at 3:19 PM on January 7, 2012


Holy crap those Bill Hicks clips were really, really hard to watch. I've been that angry at people before, but this usually results in me storming off and punching the hand dryer in the men's room. To have someone make me this angry, while being under the lights, on stage, in front of a roomful of people? I dunno, I guess you learn how to handle a situation like that with time and practice. I reckon it's probably a good idea to learn it early, while you're still coming up and your embarrassing outburst won't get plastered across social media. Maybe clubs can offer a free heckling service for starting comedians; shouters and light-shiners for them to cut their teeth on.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:23 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder how much bigger and better the comedy industry (for lack of a better word) would be if misogyny wasn't generally accepted. Lot of funny women (and women with money to spend) being treated like shit and silenced, all allegedly in pursuit of the LOLs.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:24 PM on January 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


the young rope-rider: MUCH bigger and MUCH better, is my guess. But relationships will always be the greatest wellspring for comedy, and censorless evisceration (of both self and others) the corollary, so I don't know how that will happen.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:29 PM on January 7, 2012


because Cross famously plays only arenas if at all possible

Wait, David Cross can fill an arena? Seriously? I had no idea he was remotely that popular.
posted by eugenen at 3:33 PM on January 7, 2012


because Cross famously plays only arenas if at all possible, he just expects a different level of rowdiness and suffers it to a greater degree.

It might seem like that is how it should be, but I've seen a lot of club and big gig comedy, and it's generally the exact opposite. I'd have thought it's actually more to do with the fact that hecklers in an arena are massively easier to deal with. If you don't give them attention only a relatively few people hear them, and so they don't disrupt the show. They can then be fairly discretely quietened or removed by security. A heckler in a comedy club can destroy a set if the comic loses control of them, even with security on hand.

Hence the hecklers who get the not so bad interaction are the ones picked because doing something with them will add to the show, not the screaming idiot who can only wreck the thing.
posted by howfar at 3:33 PM on January 7, 2012


1. Yes, Cross is, or at least was, that popular, but "arena" is also something of a term of art here. Think less "stadium" and more "where you'd see a mid-to-large rock concert." Picture much the same crowd as well.

2. howfar is probably right, but the most notable incident I'm thinking of is when the woman started accosting him on "Shut Up You Fucking Baby" and his response was more of a confused WTF than any real anger.

3. Here's another good example, showing how he handles the crowd with amusement and slowly brings it back under his own control. A marked difference.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:46 PM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was at that Portland show that Oswalt talks about.

Kyle Kinane opened, it was a great night, and then all of a sudden this douchebag starts taping and being a colossal prick. So then the buzz of the entire crowd (which at that point had been pretty good) gets ruined by somebody making a scene and deciding that his crappy phone video trumped the desire of everyone else's desire to enjoy the show.

I'm not quite sure why people spend more time watching a thing through a cameraphone lens with its blurry picture and crappy sound than they do actually watching the thing in front of them. On the other hand, their tendency to do this makes it easy for the Doctor to spot something amiss...
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 5:13 PM on January 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


So he's basically saying that he can be successful despite his appearance but that a woman's success or failure is entirely contingent upon whether she's attractive.

He definitely didn't say anything like that. If you have to view the world like that you should know it's your own perception.
posted by FeralHat at 5:46 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Who ever called Patton Oswalt a hero?

I don't know, but there's a contingent over at the AV Club that would line up to have his babies.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:52 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't know, but there's a contingent over at the AV Club that would line up to have his babies.

Well, if you can't tape him, replicate him.
posted by hal9k at 5:58 PM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


He definitely didn't say anything like that. If you have to view the world like that you should know it's your own perception.

This isn't Reddit; please try harder. All of his derogatory comments about the woman are based on her appearance. The actual objectionable behavior (the taping) is barely remarked upon after he gets her to put away her phone. When seeking something to harp on her about, he seizes on her appearance...which is ironic at best, all things considered. That Oswalt -- who is certainly capable of taking the time and spending the money to get in shape, which for health reasons he should really do anyway -- feels comfortable talking down on a woman because of her appearance says something. What, I'm not really sure. But it's not a good something, and you'd need a pretty big blind spot to miss it.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:59 PM on January 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


kittens for breakfast: I agree with you, but Patton, for one, spends a lot of time in his act disparaging his own appearance, and two, and I acknowledge this might not be worth anything, his retort wasn't, "fuck you you're ugly," but rather "fuck you your ten years past the point where that 'hot girl' dismissal of me means anything."

So, still hateful, still not cool, but different from your spin on it.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:34 PM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


It says, as he admits in his response, that it touched on a sore spot for him personally, so he went to the well and came up with some easy quips. They happened to be based on her appearance. You're not sure what it says about whatever because there is no deeper meaning there. I highly doubt that Oswalt is a misogynist who was just waiting for an unlucky woman to cross his path with the wrong behavior so he could unleash his true feelings about women on her for the world to see. He saw a person who he perceived as being a jerk, and maybe acted like a bigger jerk in response, depending on your view of the situation. He feels comfortable talking down on anyone, man or woman, because he's a comedian and a comedy show is not a safe-space for whatever issues you walk in the door with.
posted by FeralHat at 6:38 PM on January 7, 2012


What he's saying is basically, she's an ugly hasbeen, pay no attention to her -- that is sexist and makes me lose sympathy for him. Saying a man is ugly is not equivalent -- when you insult a woman's looks, you're basically insulting her very worth in the culture we live in. That's the only reason it has any sting.

You might read the Danny Chen story above before re-comparing. And note that you are the one asserting that making this woman seem unattractive is tantamount to removing all of her value to society.

As to the text, a comedian has to lead into the good stuff. Here we have something rarer than a heckler, but a bald-faced taper (NB: people from taper cultures don't default to it being allowed). Normal hecklers will get a piece out of the quiver, but this isn't really anything a standup is likely to prepare for and for which there is no ready-made "slap the dicks" retort. So, a comedian is going to start in on what they know of their target, which is basically nothing at the beginning. Responses change this.

Point being, you lead with the easy stuff: poop jokes, ugly people, etc.
posted by rhizome at 6:45 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


He feels comfortable talking down on anyone, man or woman, because he's a comedian and a comedy show is not a safe-space for whatever issues you walk in the door with.

You know, this kind of "he's politically incorrect!" stuff went out a long time ago. The whole "safe-space" for "whatever issues" is such obvious dog-whistle stuff that, again, I strongly really recommend you read around the site some more, because someone has a bingo card that they're filling up and laughing their ass off over right now.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:47 PM on January 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


That Oswalt -- who is certainly capable of taking the time and spending the money to get in shape, which for health reasons he should really do anyway

Heaven forfend we criticize someone based on his or her looks.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:47 PM on January 7, 2012


Heaven forfend we criticize someone based on his or her looks.

Welp, glass houses.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:48 PM on January 7, 2012


Perhaps if one was to criticize someone for their behavior, one would not engage in it oneself?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:50 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


kittens, do you not believe him when he describes her haughty dismissive look and eye roll?

I can picture it all too well.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 6:54 PM on January 7, 2012


Point being, you lead with the easy stuff: poop jokes, ugly people, etc.

Except he actually says that he was ill-advisedly expressing his resentments toward "toward the entitled and beautiful and dismissive and cruel". So...yeah, not so much what you said.

No, he's probably not some evil twisted misogynist, any more than most people are. The problem is that misogyny is old and stubborn and often culturally accepted to such an extent that even really quite decent people will express, exploit and excuse it.
posted by howfar at 6:56 PM on January 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Perhaps if one was to criticize someone for their behavior, one would not engage in it oneself?

Actually, I'm not insulting him. The guy has a weight problem, and he knows he has a weight problem, and unlike a lot of people in his position, he can afford to eat incredibly healthy food and hire an army of trainers to get himself out of the danger zone and -- probably -- feeling a hell of a lot better about himself, too. I realize that could be death to one's comedy mojo, but for real, this is something he could do, and he would almost certainly be a lot better off for it. Kevin Smith and Jonah Hill did it.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:58 PM on January 7, 2012


The whole "safe-space" for "whatever issues" is such obvious dog-whistle stuff that, again, I strongly really recommend you read around the site some more, because someone has a bingo card that they're filling up and laughing their ass off over right now.

The fact that you find comfort in thinking with the herd says plenty.
posted by FeralHat at 7:03 PM on January 7, 2012


The fact that you find comfort in thinking with the herd says plenty.

Yeah, yeah, google Ron Paul, et cetera
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:05 PM on January 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


I say this as an unattractive double-chinned hag, myself:

I wonder how many people here who think Oswalt is a reprehensible asshole have been a situation where a motorist cut them off, almost causing an accident, and then vented their rage based on the material immediately at hand...you know, how things look.

I then wonder how many of them have never told a soul about the incident.
posted by gnomeloaf at 7:20 PM on January 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


This is why should I ever start doing stand-up I will always take a machete with me, because then if someone did that eyerolling shit to me I could leap off the stage and stab their heart out in a nice socially acceptable way.
posted by Artw at 7:21 PM on January 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


First things first, what Patton did was wrong, over-the-top, and more than a little misogynistic, and I think he owed a bit more of an apology for going that route than he gave. But he gave a heartfelt apology, so he's cool.

Second, stand-up comedy is located at the excruciating intersection between personal expression and ego-shoving. You've got to be funny, say funny/unexpected things, create a funny character, but you've got to do it by baring your soul, to some extent. The better you are at this, the more of yourself you're exposing to an audience.

Patton is to a large extent a "confessional" comic. He tells funny stories and he talks about pop culture, but a lot of material involves him exposing a part of his private life so that he can then rip into himself for laughs. He's pretty fearless about doing this; he has an impressive self-observation that I associate with the best and most vulnerable writers. I think qualities like this make up for some of his less funny ones, like the long tangents he'll go on about things I can't imagine caring about. Self-observation of that sort is rare even in the really good comedians (though we have a hot streak of it now in modern comedy).

That kind of soul-baring can be excruciating, and as far as I know, it doesn't get any easier. Revealing parts of yourself that you wish were hidden is really hard, and really painful. I can't imagine doing it on stage; performing is hard anyway, especially performing comedy, and working in a hot environment like that while also exposing yourself in risky ways is a feat I'm not courageous enough to imagine doing.

People treating you like you're a commodity rather than a person are abhorrent in any context. When they're doing it while you're trying to operate as vulnerably human as you can, it requires an enormous effort not to erupt in a ball of white-hot, irrational rage. An eyeroll in response to a heartfelt declaration feels like a dismissal of your entire self – not just you as an entertainer/writer/artist/comedian, but of you as a living soul. It's somebody letting you know, "Yeah, I don't give a fuck about who you are. Give me teh funniez and I'll pass it on to YouTube."

Even if this hadn't been a stand-up routine, I'd have understood a pretty vicious response to a person like that woman. But add in the fact that this is happening AT A SHOW, WHILE PATTON IS ON-STAGE, where a single misstep turns the audience against you, where comedians respond swiftly and brutally to hecklers to maintain control, and this outburst made total sense. You've got the demands of comedy mixed with the personal rage of somebody who feels like they're being treated like shit. The response is going to be gut-level and cruel. I think that in that situation, cruelty is justified and even expected.

Does that make the things these comics say okay? A hundred times no. I hate that Bill Hicks clip; it's so petty and vicious and hateful. It contributed significantly to my dislike of Hicks. But I understand why Hicks said what he said; I have said similar things in similar (but less pressured) circumstances. So I am glad that there's no video of Patton saying those things: I like Patton, and I think his response was justified in certain ways, but if I could hear him say it I know I'd like him a lot less. Better to know it happened and that it was wrong, and to keep liking him (unless the accusations of misogyny against him become more commonplace, in which case fuck him).

People who videotape performances are shitty. People who disrespect other people when they're at their barest and weakest are outright despicable. That doesn't justify aggressively sexist put-downs. But it means that my sympathy is almost entirely with Patton, even when I think that what he did was wrong.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:54 PM on January 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


I once had a lot of respect for Oswalt, but can't help wondering if his fame has gone to his head.

I am a huge fan of him myself, and I actually think it's sort of the opposite. It seems like he's someone for whom no amount of fame or recognition will ever quiet the anger and insecurity he's nursing from a long time ago. Maybe he needs it? I don't know. Generally he's entertaining on twitter, but this is one thing that made me think about not following him. I'd just remain ignorant about this side of his personality.

One more thing about this and how it reflects so positively on Patton: The original blog post might never have come to anybody's attention had he not retweeted it to his audience.

He retweets negative things all the time to rally his twitter followers. I think it's immature and ugly behavior, but Oswalt does it for even the slightest negative message. I love the man's comedy, but in his everyday life, he is not over high school.
posted by gladly at 8:15 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I once saw Alun Cochrane interrupt his routine to ask a woman to stop filming him with her phone. His conversation with her, in which he managed to simultaneously convey a sincere plea, a rational and courteous explanation of his concerns, and the extent of his carefully managed anger—all without ruining the room's mood, which had taken some effort to establish—really impressed me. Not only did he make her put her camera away, he educated his audience and made it less likely to happen again. Oswalt has a lot of rationalisations, but it's completely possible to have this conversation without chasing the offending audience member out of the room with personal insults.
posted by hot soup girl at 8:30 PM on January 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't follow him (or anyone - yes, I'm a total luddite) on twitter, but from the things I HAVE come across, he's been gracious and all about getting the record straight and making things civil again.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:31 PM on January 7, 2012


This is why should I ever start doing stand-up I will always take a machete with me, because then if someone did that eyerolling shit to me I could leap off the stage and stab their heart out in a nice socially acceptable way.

Don't do that!

A machete's really for chopping; it'd be hard to stab someone with one. For stabbing you want a nice dagger. Or an awl.
posted by asterix at 9:24 PM on January 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


sorry I got here so late, folks. EXTREMELY RELEVANT SYTL: the two dumbest c*nts in the world.
posted by seansbrain at 10:01 PM on January 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


People who tape comedy shows should be berated, tased, child-abused, opressed, and forced to wear ugg boots filled with razors while the people who tape rock shows are forced to tape the proceedings with Nokia Razors circa 2006.

That is all.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:39 PM on January 7, 2012


... EXTREMELY RELEVANT SYTL...

As a result of TFA and this, I've come to the conclusion that Patton Oswalt is a depressing guy.
posted by Ritchie at 11:06 PM on January 7, 2012


The problem is that misogyny is old and stubborn and often culturally accepted to such an extent that even really quite decent people will express, exploit and excuse it.


I think what Patton is doing is admitting that it was a low blow, bringing up an ugliness that cuts across privilege (or whatever). But a comedy club can have street fight qualities, and low blows come as no surprise. Anybody can be upbraided for anything, but y'know...people aren't going to stop calling each other retards any time soon either. I don't think it needs to be excused any more than an accidental Charlie Horse.
posted by rhizome at 11:08 PM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm late to the party, but here's Dave Anthony's take on Barbara Gray's post.
posted by crataegus at 12:33 AM on January 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


a comedy club can have street fight qualities, and low blows come as no surprise.

Of course. But here's the thing. Had Oswalt's words held identifiable and admitted racist overtones, rather than identifiable and admitted misogynist overtones, many people here would be criticising him much more strongly, and very few would have the nerve to defend him.

Now, there are a number of reasons for this, but most of them relate to the fact that misogynist language is common currency, not just in stand-up comedy, but in society. I'm not interested in calling Oswalt a bigot, but I am very interested in why no-one else is.

EXTREMELY RELEVANT SYTL

Man, if your show isn't suffering from you taking 8 minutes out to swear and ramble inconsequentially (and crucially without real gags), your show already has some serious structure issues. Oswalt could stand to get hold of a few Daniel Kitson bootlegs if he really wants to see how this is done.
posted by howfar at 4:51 AM on January 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Patton Oswalt is bigoted against women
posted by Renoroc at 6:21 AM on January 8, 2012


What's odd here is that Oswalt's explanation gives a reasonable first-person, subjective explanation for why his temper flared, but at no point did I hear a reasonable justification for acting on his anger the way he did, and why his internal psychodrama about smirks and eye-rolls and pretty ladies should result in a verbal attack on this particular woman. So, this would've made a decent mea-culpa confessional apology (which never came), but it sucks as a self-defense.

Also, the dismissal in this thread of Grey's initial complaint as whiny sounds like a lot of dismissiveness I've seen in my own time towards women/queers/minorities of other sorts for being allegedly over-sensitive or "a bad sport" when they complain about some form of behavior or circumstance that is inconvenient for others to correct and/or think about.
posted by LMGM at 7:44 AM on January 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


Well, based on the material at hand, I certainly don't like Dave Anthony now.
posted by maryr at 8:13 AM on January 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


at no point did I hear a reasonable justification for acting on his anger the way he did, and why his internal psychodrama about smirks and eye-rolls and pretty ladies should result in a verbal attack on this particular woman

Yeah, he owes us that much.
posted by rhizome at 9:50 AM on January 8, 2012


think a better analogy might have been you hand it to your friend/editor for critique and they put it out in the wild without your say so.

Only if your friend/editor consists of a room filled with strangers.


When you're a performer trying out new material that is exactly who your friend/editor is.
posted by TheKM at 12:30 PM on January 8, 2012


This guy is basically worse than Andrew Dice Clay ever was.
posted by crank at 2:01 PM on January 8, 2012


When you're a performer trying out new material that is exactly who your friend/editor is.

And yet I can fairly ask my friend/editor to do things that I could not request of a room full of strangers, so the parallel breaks down very quickly.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:19 PM on January 8, 2012


Patton Oswalt has eaten Ortolan. It is a small songbird that is traditionally drowned in a snifter of Armagnac before being eaten whole. The eater covers their head while doing this so god doesn't witness this affront to nature.

Patton Oswalt is literally Hitler.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:54 PM on January 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


Worse actually. They both make me laugh about the same but at least Hitler owned up when he stole material from Nietzsche.
posted by howfar at 2:59 PM on January 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


So has Anthony Bourdain. They both can't be Hitler.
posted by cooker girl at 3:20 PM on January 8, 2012


Hitler: Worse than Guy Fieri?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:27 PM on January 8, 2012


So confused right now. Why can't I pick more than one Hitler.

I'll get back to you, I have some thinking to do. I don't really want to waste hitler on Oswalt. Maybe is is literally Mousolini.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:30 PM on January 8, 2012


When it comes to Hitlers, the fuhrer the better.
posted by Ritchie at 3:47 PM on January 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Let's punish this Patton guy by taking our comedy dollar elsewhere! I'd recommend finding a puppet act or going to see that guy who writes humorous words and diagrams on a white board and then comments on them.
posted by crank at 3:51 PM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


EXTREMELY RELEVANT SYTL

What a disaster. This guy is awful.
posted by sweetkid at 4:34 PM on January 8, 2012


Awful? I think it's awesome.

I've been to exactly two comedy shows in my life. One was Jeff Dunham opening for Louie Anderson, and the less said about that the better. (It was the ex's idea.) The other was open mic night at some place in Manhattan, which I went to because a friend of a friend was trying out their act. Someone sat at the table closest to the stage and talked loudly enough that we had difficulty hearing people over her, even though the stage acts had amplification.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:00 PM on January 8, 2012


Well, you've said it yourself, you've been to two comedy shows. Comedians frequently punish talkers, hecklers etc.. The problem in that YouTube clip isn't that Oswalt does it, it's that he does it so badly. He calls the talkers "cunts" and "retards" and that's him done, pretty much. He then is so upset, it seems, that he launches into a plainly made up load of shit about stuff he does to talkers, like someone who doesn't have the nerve for a fight telling you all about this other fight he had once and how he won it. It's not funny, and he witters on to no purpose for minute after minute.
posted by howfar at 5:18 PM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


A third account of the whole thing.

Also:
Patton Oswalt is bigoted against women
posted by Renoroc at 6:21 AM on January 8 [+] [!]


Yes, so bigoted that he featured Maria Bamford on the original Comedians Of Comedy tour. So bigoted that he heaps praise on Charlize Theron and her performance in Young Adult. So bigoted that he emphatically and sincerely refers to his wife as being more intelligent than him in his act.

Sorry, I don't buy it. While Oswalt could stand to pick his words more carefully when dealing with hecklers, this whole "OMG-under-the-lovably-geeky-exterior-lurks-an-evil-misogynist" thing is just silly to me.
posted by tantrumthecat at 6:12 PM on January 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think that thing Renoroc said was a joke at my expense, if you look at the comment above it. I stand by my points however. Misogynistic language is commonplace, and treated as such, in stand-up comedy, and that Oswalt describes an interaction with a woman based, at least in part, on "nice guy" misogyny. That doesn't make Oswalt a misogynist monster, any more than all the wonderful stuff he does for women stops his misogynist outburst being what it was.
posted by howfar at 6:22 PM on January 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yes, so bigoted that he featured Maria Bamford on the original Comedians Of Comedy tour. So bigoted that he heaps praise on Charlize Theron and her performance in Young Adult. So bigoted that he emphatically and sincerely refers to his wife as being more intelligent than him in his act.

When viewed through the lens of someone who wants to see misogyny everywhere, those could easily be explained as Oswalt mentioning the exceptions that prove the rule. Or something like that.

Oswalt is like David Cross, to me. When restrained to playing a character, they are f-ing hilarious. When unrestrained, they let their inner asshole fly.

I don't know if Oswalt is a misogynist, but I don't think he is. At least not in the Jerry Lewis "women can't be funny" way. What I DO think is that he is childish and uncontrolled. Even if it is completely true that the woman doing the taping was totally trying to use her "hotness" to get away with something, the reaction to go down to her level and cut her down to size is just silly. A good comedian shouldn't have to resort to brutally beating a heckler to a verbal pulp. That's just being a bully; "getting even" with his own tormenters by picking on someone even weaker.

I also hate the "I'm not charging so you can't complain" routine. In this context, I would be pissed off too. The people in the audience were there to see amateurs up there trying their best, not a professional running time trials.
posted by gjc at 5:16 AM on January 9, 2012


I don't know if Oswalt is a misogynist, but I don't think he is. At least not in the Jerry Lewis "women can't be funny" way.
Ok, seriously? You think that unless someone is a cackling villain who has never had an un-oppressive thought about a woman, then he can never do or say anything misogynistic? That's awfully convenient!

Look: I don't think Oswalt is a terrible guy. I don't think he's "a misogynist," if by that you mean someone whose every interaction with women is hateful. But this particular outburst was, it seems to me, misogynistic. It was based on some fucked-up readings of a woman's motivations, and it showed that in some circumstances he's willing to use oppressive ideas about women to exert power over them. And I just don't care that he was sad in high school or that the popular girls wouldn't sleep with him. I was fairly miserable in high school, too, but at some point you have to grow the fuck up and take responsibility for your behavior. This woman was not a mean girl who wouldn't let him sit at her table in the high school cafeteria. If he wanted to humiliate her, he should have talked about what she actually did, not about how she was a reasonably-attractive woman who had the temerity to exist after the age of 30.
posted by craichead at 5:54 AM on January 9, 2012 [8 favorites]


There are no winners here, no one is in the right.

What Oswalt said is reprehensible, and his semi-apology woefully lacking (but better than nothing at all). I find his plea of PTSD ("it...it...reminded me of this other jerk! That EYE-ROLLING!") to be downright pathetic.

The lady who filmed him...it can't be a shock to anyone that, if you go to most comedy acts, most concerts, most plays, most anything that is done on stage in front of a live audience, that filming it is a dick move. Oswalt or the venue could have been more clear on this, but really, I feel like this is something all of us already know. I share Oswalt's skepticism that she was truly deleting it.

I have been an Oswalt fan for a long time. I don't know him personally, but I know him pretty much as well as a fan can, as well as you might know your own favorite artists.

Oswalt is not an asshole in the vein of Andrew Dice Clay or most mainstream comics. He is smart and conscientious, and I betcha that if he read these comments about the inherent misogyny in his comments, he would agree and perhaps apologize more thoroughly than he did. Just a hunch.

Personally, I forgive him for this, and I will continue to respect him and enjoy his work.

Craichead, I find it strange you highlighted a quote to take issue with when it doesn't really seem like there's a big disagreement there. GJC didn't say this action wasn't misogynistic, and you stopped short of calling Oswalt a flat-out capital-M misogynist.
posted by mreleganza at 8:48 AM on January 9, 2012


Well, I think we can safely say that Oswalt will not be elected to public office any time soon. I'm glad we've sorted that out.
posted by empath at 9:09 AM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm usually with the cries of mysogyny, but not in this case. I think the remarks would have been the same if this person was a man, and Patton comments on appearance all the time. He also admitted he was wrong, and frankly, if you act in an ugly way, you appear uglier than you really are. She deserved some rude comments. I'm fine with Ostwalt.
posted by agregoli at 10:39 AM on January 9, 2012


I'm honoured that our conversation passes the empath test of relevance for discussion. I'd have felt just awful discussing something that interested me to which you hadn't give your SERIUS BIZNIZ stamp.
posted by howfar at 10:42 AM on January 9, 2012


I didn't say it wasn't worth talking about. I just think that the amount of hand wringing being done over this is absurd. What he said to that woman isn't anything you wouldn't hear at any comedy club in the country on any given weekend.
posted by empath at 10:48 AM on January 9, 2012


Yes. That's exactly why it's worth talking about.
posted by howfar at 10:55 AM on January 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm kind of surprised the number of people defending this lady.

A woman who had no knowledge of Patton Oswalt or his material walks into a comedy club because "someone famous is on stage", whips out a camera and films him. When asked to stop, she condescendingly tells him "you'll want this recorded, you're doing great."

We should all be able to agree that her behavior was not only rude and distracting, but downright selfish. She likely plans on sharing a paid performance with others who didn't pay to see it (material taken out of context like that is also irritating to comics when it shows up online) and she's distracting other paying customers around her with her stupid phone and risking ruining the show that everyone else paid to see by his having to stop what he's doing to address her. She felt that her desire to record someone was more important than the performance itself or even the performer's wishes. She felt she was entitled to do this and shouldn't be asked to stop.

He's right when he tells her she's an asshole but doesn't realize she's an asshole and that's the real problem. If you're being rude in that type of venue and are asked to stop being rude, the only acceptable response is to immediately comply and maybe emote a little contrition. It's not a dialogue and you aren't entitled to plead your case. Forget the eye roll, her comment and behavior alone make her sound like an entitled brat. He shouldn't have apologized at all as he did nothing wrong.
posted by PolarHermit at 11:41 AM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm kind of surprised the number of people defending this lady.

I am also surprised, as I don't recall anybody defending her.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:02 PM on January 9, 2012


I am also surprised, as I don't recall anybody defending her.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:02 PM on January 9 [+] [!]


I am not surprised at your response.
posted by PolarHermit at 12:22 PM on January 9, 2012


I'm not surprised at anything. Omniscience is such a burden, especially when I'm tempted to buy a Lotto ticket, despite knowing how it would ruin my life. Well, at least I'll die of cancer before Cthulhu comes.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:25 PM on January 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


A woman who had no knowledge of Patton Oswalt or his material walks into a comedy club because "someone famous is on stage", whips out a camera and films him.

The original account said that she knew him and had worked with him before on a movie:
She said “I was out on the street and came in just because I heard you were performing” but this did not deter him. He kept going, she got upset and got up to leave and he said “GOOD! LEAVE” I guess she must have said they’d done a movie together because he said “I don’t care if we’ve done a movie together. You suck. I’ve done a movie with Wesley Snipes, he sucks too.”
posted by gladly at 1:28 PM on January 9, 2012


She likely plans on sharing a paid performance

This was not a paid performance.
posted by mreleganza at 2:26 PM on January 9, 2012


I am not surprised at your response.

I'm surprised by yours. If you think somebody is defending her, please link to the comment. If you think I am defending her, which I take your comment to mean, you're wrong, and I would ask you to reread my comments.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:05 PM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you think I am defending her, which I take your comment to mean, you're wrong, and I would ask you to reread my comments.

The criticism of Oswalt's response as unwarranted, too harsh, misogynistic, etc. imply that he was wrong to do what he did which is to defend her behavior to some degree. To suggest that you have to live with the fact you're going to be filmed in the age of YouTube or that silence out of respect for the audience and the performer has to be earned ... wait, funny how you weren't defending her but knew enough to know you were one of the people I was talking about without me even mentioning you specifically :-)

No need to reread your comments as apparently I fundamentally disagree with your point of view.
posted by PolarHermit at 5:25 PM on January 9, 2012


The original account said that she knew him and had worked with him before on a movie: posted by gladly

Fair point though that could have just been horseshit she threw out there. She obviously did not make much of an impression previously.

This was not a paid performance. posted by mreleganza

Another fair point! Went to the venue's website just to confirm.
posted by PolarHermit at 5:29 PM on January 9, 2012


The criticism of Oswalt's response as unwarranted, too harsh, misogynistic, etc. imply that he was wrong to do what he did which is to defend her behavior to some degree.

So let's think about this...if I stab you and in retaliation you murder me, torture my family to death and then burn down my house, anyone who suggests you went too far is an apologist for knife crime?

Furthermore, whether Oswalt was misogynist or not has nothing to do with whether he was justified in being upset. If I use a racist insult toward a black man who has assaulted me, I am behaving in racist manner, even though I have a perfectly legitimate grievance.

wait, funny how you weren't defending her but knew enough to know you were one of the people I was talking about without me even mentioning you specifically :-)


Given that I've so easily demonstrated your contention that there was anyone defending the taper to be wholly false, it can't have been difficult for Bunny Ultramod to infer that you must have been referring to those who might have been taken as doing so, particularly after you claimed not to be surprised by his response to you.
posted by howfar at 5:48 PM on January 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


The criticism of Oswalt's response as unwarranted, too harsh, misogynistic, etc. imply that he was wrong to do what he did which is to defend her behavior to some degree.

This is absurd. It's very possible for two people to be wrong.

particularly after you claimed not to be surprised by his response to you.

Precisely. Your comment wasn't especially subtle.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:12 PM on January 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


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