Arts Desk

Better Onstage: Patton Oswalt

patton2009_highres19[3]A comedian with the good taste to work with Pixar, tour with Zach Galifianakis, and star in the ultra-dark Big Fan ought to make a hilarious interviewee. Patton Oswalt's stand-up material braves nerdy topics like comic books alongside heavier ones like atheism, and he pulls it off swimmingly. He won was nominated for a Grammy for a stand-up album recorded at D.C.'s own Lisner Auditorium at George Washington University, and you probably saw him on King of Queens at some point. This conversation should have been off the charts. Yet, somehow, I don't think Oswalt made a single joke during our brief talk. He was certainly polite and honest, but not very funny. I can't speculate as to what was bringing him down—perhaps it was simply too early in the morning for the West Coaster—but I certainly hope (and fully expect) he'll be infinitely more entertaining this Saturday at the Warner Theatre.

How long have you been doing comedy now?

About 20 years.

You're originally from Northern Virginia—did the D.C. comic scene just not cut it for you?

It wasn't really dynamic and it was really stagnating and starting to fold up. I had to find somewhere to move and other places to go on stage.

What was your first big gig?

I don't know, it all happened so gradually. I don't know what my first big gig was.

Was there any particular moment where you began to feel more successful?

There were a lot of tiny moments, but no big moments.

Early on you wrote for MadTV—when did that happen?

That was the summer of 1995.

What was that like?

It was good, but it wasn't until later that I appreciate the lessons that I learned. I was frustrated while I was there because of what I could and couldn't write. It was part of the network format. I was really young, and I was kind of idealistic and combative.

Do you ever miss working on King of Queens?

Yeah, there were really good people on that show. It was really fun, and they always wrote fun stuff for me to do.

How did television compare to stand-up or even your film work?

Well, each is its own thing. They're different disciplines, but they're all fun. You can't really compare them—they're not the same thing. There's way more autonomy in stand-up.

Do you prefer one over the other?

No, I like all of them.

You voiced a rat in Ratatouille—did you have to do anything to really get in character for that?

No, they just wanted me to act like I act. There wasn't anything really ratlike about the role, so it was pretty cool.

Do you have any especially fond memories of working on the film?

Way too many to name. Just getting to visit the Pixar campus up in [Emeryville, Calif.] was amazing.

Did they approach you with the role?

Yeah, they approached me.

What drew you to it?

Them offering it to me.

Was there anything particular about the role you found attractive?

Getting to work at Pixar.

How close to your actual life was your character in the movie Big Fan?

There are certainly elements of that guy in me, but Robert [D. Siegel] wrote him to such an extreme that it was like elements of myself were amplified—like the obsessiveness and completeism that pop culture addicts tend to get.

Was it an emotionally difficult part to play?

It was. It was a really sad twisted guy and in the end it's almost like he thinks he's gotten some kind of victory there, but he's only gotten deeper into his own obsessiveness.

Do you feel like you grew personally from that role?

I have no idea. That remains to be seen.

With the excellent Comedians of Comedy tour, you performed at smaller "indie rock" venues—were you going for street cred?

I just wanted to be in really, really packed small rooms that were more intimate. There were a lot of different motivations for that. I think when you go after street cred, you always end up failing, so that wasn't a motivation.

Did you feel like there was more of a connection between the performer and the audience on that tour?

There you go.

You won a Grammy for the album My Weakness Is Strong, which you actually recorded in D.C. at Lisner Auditorium. Why did you choose that venue?

I liked it. I'm not really sure. We had a bunch of different choices and that one I just thought would look better on film and not be overly huge. I don't remember what the decision-making process was, we just thought it would look really good.

Was the Grammy a surprise?

Yeah, I had no idea. I don't really follow the Grammys, so I don't know when they announce them or anything, I just got a call from my manager saying I got nominated.

What should people expect from this tour?

It's not a tour, I'm just doing a few dates.

What should people expect from these upcoming dates?

A man doing jokes into a microphone?

Well, is there anything special about these dates as compared to previous ones?

New material?

How many dates do you have coming up?

Four or five. I just go out, do a night, and come back home. It's not really a tour.

Do you have any other big new projects?

Some, but they're just in an amorphous stage. They're really hard to talk about when they're like that.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin


  1. #1

    I'm wondering why the header says "Patton Osborn", and what that level of editing suggests.

  2. #2

    Wow! Even the reporters are dicks in D.C.

  3. #3

    has this interviewer ever considered that he's not good at what he does? sounds pretty lazy to me.

  4. #4

    Yeah, it's probably Patton's fault that you asked the most banal, easily-answered-on-IMDB questions and never went any deeper. It's probably also his fault that you asked questions that could easily be answered in one or two words.

    You can criticise him for not making jokes when he's a comedian, but did you ever bother to turn that back on yourself and say "i'm an interviewer/writer, and i can't interview for shit, and I still published questions and answers that weren't worth publushing?

    Fuckin' Patton. Always ruining things by showing up and tolerating poor interviewing.

  5. #5

    Did you ever stop to think that your mediocre college journalist interview style was the problem? Maybe concentrate on less yes/no answers and shoot for something more open-ended. I can't blame him for his responses.

  6. #6

    you're going to miss everything cool and die angry

  7. #7

    I actually went to the Patton Osborn show over at the Warther Cinema, and he was dynamic and engaging.

  8. #8

    If you were looking for some HI-LARIOUS answers, you sure picked a boring ass set of questions.

  9. #9

    Yeah... Blame it on Patton. Talk about boring, uninspired questions!

  10. #10

    Look, if you can't think of interesting questions or conversation — or, you know, how to spell the subject's name — maybe you should blame yourself for being a completely uninteresting, bad journalist.
    Or just go ahead and blame your subject. His fuckin' fault, right? Oh heavens, this'll never make my portfolio! What a scoundrel!

  11. #11

    "Dance, monkey, dance! Take 'when did you write for MadTV?' and spin it into comedic gold!"

  12. #12

    This interview is hilarious. Sadly, the interviewer doesn't get the jokes.

  13. #13

    Seriously? "Nerdy topics like comic books"? Fuck you.

    This sounds like an episode of The Chris Farley Show.

  14. #14

    If you interviewed Kobe Bryant would you also expect him to Shoot some baskets?

  15. #15

    Very rarely, a few times in a lifetime, you read an interview and when you finish it nothing can ever be the same. Walls have been pulled down, barriers broken, a dimension of feeling, of existence itself, has opened in you that was not there before. Patton Oswalt's interview with the Washington City Paper is an interview of this magnitude. To read it is to have yourself taken apart, undone, touched at the place of your own essence; it is to be turned back, as if after a long absence, into a human being.

  16. #16

    I've heard more well-thought out/interesting questions come from 3 year olds. Horrible interview. Should be ashamed of yourself for your lack of journalistic integrity.

  17. #17

    Don't bother reading my comment, scroll back up and read poodlescoot's gloriously true post above.

    Ryan Little, isn't there a "Top 10 School Supplies Your Kids Need" article that needs writing? Sounds like your bitter-failed-journalist-self-loathing could use a booster charge.

  18. #18

    yeah, that's a big problem with Mr. Oswalt. he's just not funny, is he? Kudos to Ryan Little for enduring the soul-crushing black cloud of depression that is Patton Oswalt.

  19. #19

    Patton Osborn is my favorite stand-up comedian because he's not that funny to talk to...

  20. #20

    You cannot interview a comedian and expect to get their stand up act. First of all the jokes they tell on stage have to be developed and setup and also play off the room. Oswalt is also just a guy like anyone else. He comes off as snarky in his comedy and he did in this interview as well. It's more telling that the questions were terrible, with absolutely no thought being put into the follow up. "What drew you to the role? They offered it. Why did you take it? They offered it."

    Listen to the person you are interviewing and react and adjust your questions accordingly.

  21. Battered, Chapped

    @#6 Gwen Fairfax....FTW!

    Wow, what a terrible interviewer. Good forbid you did a little research before an interview.

    My softball team would like to take you to an abandoned hospital.

  22. #22

    70% of your question could have been answered with a Google search. Nice work, Scoop.

  23. #23

    Perhaps his interview would have been more interesting if you had been a more interesting interviewer. There is not one question here that lends itself to "funny" or jokes or really anything of interest. Except for watching Patton get increasingly fed up with your asinine questions and commence mocking you, of course. THAT was kinda awesome.

  24. #24

    Ryan, did you think you were interviewing Robin Williams or something? Patton doesn't just riff in interviews, and you gave him zip to work with. This set of questions seemed designed to kill the potential of any comedy ensuing, and then you had the complete lack of class to actually say "hey he's not very funny in this interview, huh readers?"

    Pathetic effort. You owe Patton an apology for this passive aggressive amateur hour b.s.

  25. #25

    What a poor job by the interviewer. Does he expect that comedians have to be "on" all the time or is he just passing the buck for a shitty interview? Such crappy and unimaginative questions remind me of the writing in a high school paper. Ultimately, this interview reflects more on the interviewer than on Oswalt.

  26. #26

    NOTE: Due to high traffic on this article, your comments will take longer than normal to show up. Please be patient, it's only because of caching, NOT because we're censoring you because you hate the article.

  27. #27

    What I want to know is: what did the interviewer think of that Dr. John concert?

  28. #28

    As deserving as he was, Patton didn't win the GRAMMY that year, Stephen Colbert did.

  29. #29

    "Did they approach you with the role?
    Yeah, they approached me.
    What drew you to it?
    Them offering it to me."

    "What should people expect from these upcoming dates?
    A man doing jokes into a microphone?
    Well, is there anything special about these dates as compared to previous ones?
    New material?"

    "Yet, somehow, I don’t think Oswalt made a single joke during our brief talk."

    I think you could make a killing off of this idea. Piss off someone in an interview so bad they go into maximum sarcastic overdrive. I actually liked this better than most interviews because we get to see a different side to Mr. Oswalt: how incredibly capable he is outwitting a complete moron.

    Despite how unintentionally funny this article turned out to be, I hope your disrespectful title "Better Onstage" sets your career back very, very far. He's been in the game for a very, very long time, and you're fucking NOBODY.

    You have some growing up you need to do.

  30. #30

    Yet another interviewer, who expects comedians to be "on" all the time.
    If you interviewed a surgeon, would they be required to pull an organ out of someone at some point in your High School yearbook-quality interview?

    Poor little writer. Patton didn't make me laugh :(
    Good lord man, grow up.

  31. #31

    @d Hate is such a strong and unspecific word for the manner in which we detest the snotty attitude of the weak-shit reporter's phoned-in questions.

  32. #32

    Maybe you've heard the old saying "If you're bored, you're boring". Patton is a fascinating, funny, and genuinely intelligent person, so.....

  33. #33

    The interview sucks, but Patton has been less funny each time he's come back to DC. That said, he's still funnier than most.

    Wonder if he'll do "Ramadan Shoes."

  34. #34

    Its really too bad this guy isn't the smart kind of lazy and just took questions submitted by fans. I was more engaged in the comments then the actual article and because this is on the internet I am going to have to guess that this has never happened before nor will ever happened again. So I guess the interviewer did accomplish something after all. Well done good sir.

  35. #35


    Will there be an after show ether frolic?

  36. #36

    Most comics suffer from depression. Patton does. I bet he was having an 'off' day. Way to make him feel worse, Ryan. You might want to proofread your work too. Your last question is written incorrectly. Also, have you ever done stand-up comedy or written comedy? Yeah, I didn't think so. You suck.

  37. #37

    Terrible interviewer. He clearly had a list of (questions which he was going to read, in order, no matter what his subject (Oswalt) said. The exchange about getting the Pixar movie is so unprofessional I'm surprised it was published.
    Wasted opportunity.

  38. #38

    You know, Ryan Little did a bad interview, but he doesn't deserve all the credit. I think his editor sucks, too.

  39. #39

    Honestly, I blame neither Patton nor the interviewer. While some of the interviewer's questions were dull (like "what drew you to it" on Ratatouille), it's obvious that there was no chemistry between the two. If there was, the interviewer would have been able to get Patton to open up more and get a good dialogue going. Of course this isn't some huge paper with a huge budget, so it's hard to expect much given the source. It's funny how everyone jumps on the "interviewer is an idiot" bandwagon, but getting a subject to open up, especially someone like Patton Oswalt, isn't just a matter of coming up with the right questions, people.

  40. #40

    @Steve We would have let his shit interviewing slide if he hadn't opened up blaming Patton for the low quality interview.

    As for the volume of bandwagonners: welcome to the firehose that is Patton's twitter/online fan club.

  41. #41

    I'll tell you what was "bringing him down". The fact that he was stuck in another ridiculously unprofessional interview by a reporter who's skills all too closely resemble those of a High School yearbook staff member.
    Go review a Disturbed concert or something, they might be more extreme and intense for you.

  42. #42

    I wouldn't bash the Ryan except that he commented to the fact that he had some strange expectation of Patton to sit with him and "perform" to some pretty mediocre questions and then complained when Patton wasn't making fart jokes. "Well, is there anything special about these dates as compared to previous ones?" "Yes, I'll be performing the jokes with the microphone up my anus - wackity shmackity doo!"

  43. #43

    @Steve so are you kinda like the manager of a shitty restaurant that gets a ton of bad Yelp reviews, and then posts an "anonymous" review singing of the restaurant's "glorious" atmosphere, and "delicious" food, 5 stars 5 stars....etc. ?
    Seriously, did you read the interview?

  44. #44

    Seriously, If you're an interviewer, and you ask the question "What was that like?", you should be 150 years-old, wearing suspenders and a colostomy bag. Did you expect to be able to bring nothing to the table, and that the dancing monkey would make your lack of acumen invisible with some yuck yucks?!

  45. #45

    I think given the fact that the third sentence opens with a false statement that can be fact-checked in 10 seconds using google is indicative of the amount of work put into this publication.

  46. #46

    Ryan, You are a moron. You should not do what you do for a living. The Washington City Paper are idiots for hiring you, for utterly failing to editor your weak-sauce work, and for running your lazy, stupid interview filled with the least interesting questions imaginable in the first place. The fact that you totally sucked ass at your job and then blamed Patton, who by the way was mocking you throughout in a pretty funny way shows that you are an imbecile. You should receive vocational training so you can do useful work in a factory putting pins into holes. You are a pin-head-hole.

    You belong in the slow-class Ryan. Suck it up and accept your fate.

  47. #47

    Huge fan of this guy.

    Hmmm.....maybe I was too hasty to attack ya on the Black Sparks article?

  48. #48

    Never mind.

    Seems I was right the first time....

  49. #49

    After reading Ellen Martel's vitriol, I feel like Google translator just slammed Ryan.

  50. #50

    Wow, this is "journalism" nowadays?

    Exceptionally basic questions that anyone could Google in seconds, no adjustment made over the course of the interview to deviate from the list that was clearly not getting a good reception from Patton and then actually BLAMING the interviewee for not being "on", when given such simple questions to answer?

  51. #51

    The 8th graders at the school I work at would like their questions back.

    "How long have you been doing comedy now?" REALLY? I think wikipedia could have assisted there.

  52. #52

    Ouch guys! Geez! OK so maybe the writer deserves some flack but lets not drive him to hit the bottle too hard after reading these comments, eh? It's bad enough that over 87,000 of Oswalt's twitter followers now want this guy's head. Besides, from his editor's point-of-view, he probably just racked up a TON of clicks for the City Paper's internet revenue stream! Cha-Ching! $$$

  53. #53

    "Osborn" was my fault, not Ryan's. For the record. Apologies, and fixed.

  54. #54

    If you'd done more research on your subject you'd have seen in his Spew (the blog on his website) that you are the worst person to attempt to interview a comedian. Don't expect them to be on, know something about them, etc.

  55. #55

    I think I'm going to change my major to journalism since apparently you don't have to work at all, at least by this articles suggesting. Really, be honest. Did you actually think about your questions or on the way out the door, did you grab a dirty napkin that had been stuffed into your pocket and a random pen tucked in your ear and scribble down some questions?

  56. #56

    I love Ellen Martel's comment almost as much as I dislike this entire stinking turd of a "conversation." Conversations go both ways, Mr. Little. Which reminds me, tell your mom I said hi.

  57. #57

    this interview is a magnificent piece of art. everybody keep commenting, i'm masturbating.

  58. #58

    Ryan Little is kind of a dick.

  59. #59

    That's Patton, our little prodigy.

    Ryan Little should expect to be fired and working at "Corpse Rapers" in the very near future.

  60. #60

    He made a lot of jokes, just subtle ones that were at the expensive of your lame interview questions such as:

    "What should people expect from these upcoming dates?

    A man doing jokes into a microphone?"

  61. #61

    Ryan Little has to kill himself. It is the only way to restore balance to the force.

  62. #62

    After reading the interview, isn't it possible that the caliber of banal questions coming from the interviewer is what dragged down the the discussion? Yes.

  63. #63

    @60 And Mike S. it is ALSO possible that upon seeing he had a boring interview he then decided to devote his opening to shifting the blame for its suckitude onto Patton which makes Ryan a petty, dickish little douche-wibbler without the elementary self-reflection necessary to understand his gargantuan limitations.

    It makes him not just stupid, but stupid and mean. You can't be both Ryan. If you're going to stay stupid you've got to be warm and gracious. Otherwise, people will laugh and point instead of just feeling quietly sorry for you.

  64. #64

    Jesus, I just re-read the interview. Little is a moron in that he had no idea he was being subtly mocked. If he's not bright enough to see that, he has no business with a brilliant comedian like Patton Oswalt. Stick to a paper route jackass and leave the interviews to the people who are qualified to do them.

  65. #65

    Yikes. Chalk it up as a bad day Ryan. Learn from it.

  66. #66

    Patton is one of my favorite comedians (Gallagher, then George Lopez, then Patton Osborn), but, as someone who is a longtime writer and editor at another AAN paper, I have to defend Ryan a little here. Sometimes writers and subjects just don't mesh. If you look at some of Ryan's other work, he asks similar questions and gets highly "quotable" answers. Some performers (comedians, musicians, actors, jugglers, strippers)are just good at giving usable quotes. They "play the game," because they want the publicity. Some don't want to fake it and get sick of hearing the same questions, which is understandable. I sense Ryan is younger and probably has had a streak of easier interviewees, so he took the same approach with Patton and it blew up in his face. Looking at his other work, it's uneven, but he has talent. This is probably a good lesson for him (just hope your dickish responses don't get him fired).

    Also, the rise of the internets and the (in-progress) death of print media has caused newspapers to cut back and expect staff to do MUCH more, MUCH quicker. That leads to errors slipping through (there isn't one media outlet that I haven't noticed an increase in typos, once unfathomable and the ultimate sin). It was an error in judgment to run the story at all. The writer and editors should have just said, "That sucks, just kill the story." But people now expect NEW, CONSTANT CONTENT and they probably figured what the hell, it's just a blog post. A mistake and a poor (and lazy) piece of journalism, but it happens and Ryan shouldn't be crucified for it. Journalism is in a weird adjustment period right now. It sucks, I hate it, but it's the reality of the biz. Wish me luck at Burger King!

    If Patton ever does a crap show where, I dunno, he goes off on a Michael Richards-like rant or his dick falls out of his pants on stage, and it gets 50 million hits on YouTube and he becomes the laughing stock of the country because of one off night, maybe he'd have some empathy. Not blaming Patton for the interview being crappy or even being pissed. Just seems excessively cruel to attack (and lead his fans to attack) a probably-hard-working guy at an alternative newsweekly.

    Unless Ryan IS the antichrist. In which case, I take all that back.

  67. #67

    Just to defend Patton a bit, he hasn't "directed fans to attack" Ryan. These are the two comments he's made about the piece on twitter.

    Hankerin' for a passive-aggressive, lazy, misinformed interview with me?


    One positive on the D.C. City Paper's lack of any sort of fact checking -- I WON THE GRAMMY!

    That's it. No where did he say get your pitchforks and rage and let's go burn this puppy down. He's got over 88,000 followers on twitter. Some of them came to see what he was referring to and most have agreed that it was a crappy interview and a piss-poor job of Washington City to get some basic facts right.

    What has angered everyone is not that Ryan conducted a lazy, poorly-thought out interview, but that he seemed to go out of his way to accuse Patton of some kind of publicity malpractice. It's just cowardly and wrong to say, hey we are printing this thing that sucks and it's because this comedian decided not to be funny. It's petty and stupid and doesn't illustrate even a rudimentary understanding of Ryan's failures here. That that bit of passive-aggressive nastiness was allowed to run is incredibly mean-spirited, ignorant, and unprofessional.

    I assume Ryan isn't a college intern and should be better at his job and the people overseeing his work should be EVEN better at there's. That no where in the process did anyone say "what's the point of asking him what year he worked for MadTV?"or "what did you think he was going to say when you asked him if it was emotionally difficult to play an emotionally wrenching role?" There's no evidence that anyone involved with this piece has any idea what they are doing. Particularly in an industry where there's a glut of talented writers and editors looking for work it seems especially egregious for the people who ARE working to be bad at their jobs. I have a good feeling that if you fired everyone involved with this you'd have five hundred resumes for the openings by the end of the week. Some of them have to be from people who are more competent than this.

  68. #68

    And obviously Ryan is the antichrist.

  69. #69

    Beezus, you have conveniently ignored what's really setting this off: the author writing snarky, passive aggressive comments about the subject not being funny as his preface to his really poor interview.

    I don't think anyone would have cared, or made 'dickish' comments, if the interview was merely boring questions combined with factual errors. That's sort of what's expected from small town entertainment journalism. The problem is the journalist started by making dickish comments, then proceeded to print an interview making him ripe for a counter-attack.

    Gallagher, George Lopez and 'Patton Osborn,' eh? Ouch.

  70. #70

    You're right, blaming Patton was a bad move, obviously. But he was hardly being dickish. He basically said Patton is brilliant and will be brilliant if you see him in concert, but he wasn't funny when he talked to him. I don't think he "gets" Patton and obviously did little to no research, so he probably thought he'd be "wacky" to talk to, like George Lopez probably is in a 15 minute phone interview. Bad move. Live and learn. If he'd said, "This guy thinks he's so great, but he's just not funny," then I'd understand the vitriol.

    "Attack" was a bad choice of words. But 89,000 Twitter followers/fans are probably going to have your back when you link to something you are clearly pissed about. That's also passive/aggressive. (The Grammy thing was perfect.) If he hadn't posted that, there'd be two comments on here.

    And if those five people associated with this got fired, those 500 resumes would go straight in the garbage and the remaining three staffers would just have to suck it up and do even more.

    Crap, now that I think about it, I'd actually have to drop Patton to No. 5 on my list. Forgot about Sinbad and Carlos Mencia.

    D.C. is a small town?

  71. #71

    Beezus: Wow, you work at/for an AAN paper and yet you STILL call him "Patton Osborn" (one of your "favorite" comedians, yuk yuk!), even though it's been corrected in both the original article and the comments section? People like you (and Ryan Little)—the writers/editors who constantly make excuses for the decline in quality across the board, but cannot be relied upon to check either their own work or the work of people below them—are part of the reason the industry is dying.

  72. #72

    We will agree to disagree about whether it was dickish. I think prefacing an interview by saying "this conversation should have been off the charts but..." and "I certainly hope he'll be more entertaining on Saturday night" is pretty dickish. Particularly when what follows is such a craptastic interview by the journalist. It really does feel like Ryan was too childish to own up to his failings and felt the need to explain them away. That deserves some ridicule I believe.

    I do see your point about Patton. He was obviously annoyed and expressed his annoyance (passive-aggressively, oh the symmetry). You're right this would have been completely ignored if he'd never linked to it and just blew it off as an annoying experience. I assume he's got more twitter followers than Washington City has readers, so it was an unfair fight even if it was a righteous one.

    Still, I feel it's a little buck passing to say what do you expect journalism is in the toilet. Washington City, like every other publication, has to work under terrible constraints, but there's a lot of really good places online and in print doing a better job than this. I know this article makes me think less of them. I really hope bad journalism keeps bothering people and we don't reach the point where our expectations and standards become so systematically lowered that we become inured to dreck and consume it without complaint. But, maybe that's the fate of all this and Ryan is a harbinger of things to come. Kind of, if you don't mind, like the antichrist.

    Oh a separate note: well done Beezus wading in with a counterpoint when the tide was clearly with the snarky takedowns. You're a classy dude or lady-dude. As those who love the comedy of Sinbad often are.

  73. #73

    @69 Sara, He was joking with the Osborn thing.

  74. #74

    "It makes him not just stupid, but stupid and mean."

    Hold on, before you start handing out kudos like you're the arbiter of class. Reading your comments, you obviously know a thing or two about "mean." Seriously? We should fire "everyone involved" because of a bad interview with some comedian you're obsessed with? If you're serious, you're meaner than shit. If you're not serious, you're trolling. Either way, you're not a defender of journalism, you're a volunteer quasi-shill for an irritated celebrity. A weird appendage. You're here to hurt people. I think you better own that before you talk about who's elevating the fucking discourse here.

  75. #75

    @Ellen: What makes you think that?

    @Beezus: You do make a valid point about the editor's probable course of action when this article was filed—it should've been axed completely. But the writer (Little) and the editor made the choice to publish it anyway, and these days the line between what a paper puts in print and what they put online has disappeared. If you can't stand behind your content, regardless of what format it's published in or whether you're prepared for an interview subject's reaction to a provocative opening paragraph, don't run it. A claim that Little "shouldn't be crucified for it" cuts directly to the heart of the problem—why shouldn't he be held accountable for his lack of preparation and research?

  76. #76

    Will, I don't think I'm obsessed with him. I'm a fan of his which is why I came to read this piece. Obviously, if someone had done a crappy interview with a comedian I wasn't a fan of I would never have been here. But, what drew me to read it and my annoyance at it are two different things. I am not aggrieved for Patton's sake I just thought it was a bad interview prefaced with a series of hypocritical and mean-spirited comments that showed a lack of professionalism that deserved to be called out. Admittedly, I called them out using intentionally over the top language. I do not, for instance, think Ryan needs to kill himself to restore balance to the force nor do I think he is the antichrist.

    And I never said the people should be fired. Beezus was arguing that we need to give the people responsible for this a break because of the hardships faced by small publications and I was suggesting that the fact that there are so many talented journalists and editors out of work should make us hold the ones who are working to an even higher standard. As a thought experiment I said that if everyone involved was fired you'd get a flood of resumes for those openings and it is more likely than not that in those resumes would be people who would be better at their jobs than this. I was trying to make a point to refute Beezus' argument---that journalism's dire straights should leave the cream of the crop behind, which would negate his point about being tolerant of journalistic sins in this environment. I was not trying to start a campaign to get people fired.

    And thank you to linking to my attempt to be funny. It was a hashtag that sadly did not take off.

  77. #77

    @Sara A few things. His tone was jokey. I'll lay a bet that someone who is a fan of Patton's isn't also a George Lopez fan. Also, the Osborn thing was not immediately evident. It was a mistake in the web frame that didn't appear in the body of the article. Ryan calls him Oswalt and never called him Osborn. You had to have good eyes to see the mistake and then really bad eyes not to notice that his name is Oswalt all throughout the actual piece. I don't know why someone would be eagle-eyed enough to see the first mistake and also inattentive enough to see the mistake corrected in the article.

    It left me with the impression that he was teasing.

  78. #78

    Ugh. You forgot to ask him his favorite color.

  79. #79

    Will, Sorry just one more thing. If I did say that everyone should be fired how is that "mean"? I'm just a consumer of a product and aren't we as consumers either touting or slamming the things we love and hate all the time. If I say I think a band sucks and people shouldn't go see their shows or buy their albums then I'm trying to put them out of a job. If I go on Amazon and say I hated a pair of headphones I'm trying to put the people who design those headphones and produce them out of a job. If I say this article is hacky, unprofessional, and in poor taste and I don't think Washington City should employ the people responsible for it then I'm just expressing a critical take.

    That's not really "mean" that's just people expressing preferences and the expressions of those preferences have outcomes. You may disagree that those people should be fired just like you may think the band I hate is awesome or the headphones are brilliant, but I don't see how it's an expression of meanness to participate in a discussion of what's good and bad and what should be and not be.

    Sorry. My original point stands. I really was just trying to make a point. But, it occurred to me even if I was calling for everyone to be fired then that wouldn't qualify as a mean-spirited attitude. My critical recommendations would also lead to the Decemberists never making money from playing music either. And what I think of their music would maybe hurt their feelings. They are probably nice guys, but if you are in the world and you make things for other people's consumption you have to wear a cup. Right?

  80. #80

    Christ guys. It's pretty easy to spot the Patton fans on this comment page. Some of the interview questions are dull, but interviewing is a two-way street. From the first question, you can tell Patton didn't want to be interviewed and he probably should have hung it up there. You can smell the condescension from there out, and it takes a real fan of his work to "appreciate" the dickishness and condescension that reeks from almost every answer he gave...As someone who's not really familiar with a lot of his works, he comes across as a real diva. Interviewing is self-promotion. If you don't want to promote yourself, don't DO THE INTERVIEW.

    The intro, though a bad idea in hindsight from the twitter backlash, is only in reaction Patton's weinerly answers. Screw Patton for not being able to see it was botched on BOTH ends....And mostly his.

  81. #81

    "From the first question, you can tell Patton didn’t want to be interviewed and he probably should have hung it up there."

    Huh? The first question was How long have you been doing comedy? and his answer was 20 years. How can you tell from that answer that he didn't want to be interviewed?

  82. #82

    I'm a diehard Patton fan (see him whenever he comes in, have all his CDs, etc. and obviously follow him on his website, twitter and fbook, hence the reason I even know about this article), but I gotta agree with Tom a bit here. The interviewer obviously wasn't prepared and didn't give Patton the greatest questions, but Patton was pretty brief and condescending. And I KNOW that's his style when performing, but for a guy that appears to try and help up and coming comedians, film-makers, writers, etc. he sure did seem to not want to help this guy out in any way. He didn't have to 'be funny' but he could've tried to give a little more insight with his responses. I'm a little disappointed.

  83. #83

    Patton probably read this douchebag's article on pre-pubescent punk rockers that gave the reporter a chubber, and decided to keep the creep at arm's length...

  84. #84

    Ryan Little? More like Ryan Shittle!! Amiright!?!?!?!?!

  85. #85

    Patton, I suggest you be funny the next time you are interviewed by a high school newspaper.

  86. #86

    "Huh? The first question was How long have you been doing comedy? and his answer was 20 years. How can you tell from that answer that he didn’t want to be interviewed?"

    My bad. Not the first question --- You can tell from the second, third, fourth, and fifth questions. That better?

    All I'm really saying here is that Patton didn't want to be interviewed and had nothing to promote (apparently the upcoming show in DC wasn't very 'interesting' to Patton), he gave poor/condescending answers to run-of-the-mill questions (but not exactly loaded, Pattonites), and somehow he felt like enough of a victim to send his twitter army against an alternative weekly newspaper. Not exactly an admirable move.

    Bottom line, not every interviewer is going to be your biggest fan, and it's pretty annoying of him to expect that from people. Doing interviews is self-promotion, and if you don't want to promote yourself, don't DO them. Patton clearly didn't want to promote or talk about ANYTHING he was involved with, so it's not exactly Ryan's fault. Usually interviewers expect the conversation to open up and get interesting so they can ask some more pointed, specific questions that mean something --- Bio questions are often how you get there. Patton didn't open the door because he didn't give a shit.

    And if it was an attempt at self-promotion, it didn't work. After this whole charade I kinda think Patton is a dick.

  87. #87

    Even though you didn't find him funny, I'm touched that you found it in your heart,, to award him a Grammy. From his fans, we bow deeply & thank you.

  88. #88

    I still can not get over you defending this interview. A third grader could have come up with more compelling questions and there is absolutely no flow. There were plenty of opportunities to ask follow up questions to some of his answers, but obviously you don't have a lot of talent or experience in interviewing. I have heard a lot of interviews with Patton before and never did he once come off like you are painting him out to be. Take some responsibility for your work. "being botched on Both ends- but mostly his" does not count. I guess I can thank you for the unintentional comedy though.

  89. #89

    "Ryan, You are a moron. You should not do what you do for a living. The Washington City Paper are idiots for hiring you..."

    "Admittedly, I called them out using intentionally over the top language. I do not, for instance, think Ryan needs to kill himself to restore balance to the force nor do I think he is the antichrist."

    What a dodge. You're an asshole. Wear it.

  90. #90

    I'll bet Ryan Little was hoping for some wild and wacky interview with the comedian jumping off the walls. Hey Ryan, newsflash- not every comedian is an obnoxious manic Robin Williams freak-fest during mundane interviews like yours. In fact, Robin Williams-style, throw-poop-at-the-walls interviews are seen by most in the comedy world as desperate and excruciating. The only way he ever was able to keep that energy and spontaneity alive for so long was by stealing other comics' material. Patton Oswalt is a true original, and he doesn't need to be "on" or prove a thing to you. It's sad that despite Grammy nominated albums, starring in major motion pictures, a successful stand-up tour and scores of fans, "journalists" like you insist on a comedian like Patton Oswalt "prove" himself to be funny in your interview. That's just pathetic and ego driven. If you talk to Dr. Phil, are you disappointed if he doesn't save a marriage during your interview? If you interview a lawyer, do you make them prove they can perform a compelling summation? Of course not.

  91. #91

    I came on here just to bash the interviewer because the questions were incredibly mundane. And then I see that most everyone beat me to it. Good for everyone.

    I love one of the early questions "You worked for MadTV. When was that?". If you looked up that he worked for MadTV, did your source inexplicably leave out the year? Why would you ask such a boring one line question. What would you expect.

    Here's an example of a better question, "I see you worked for MadTV in the mid-nineties, how, if at all, did working with a group of comedic talents help you grow with your own comedy style?".

  92. #92

    It's astonishing how rude, arrogant, and over-entitled a writer like Mr. Little can get after conducting a bad interview. If somebody does you and your publication such a favor as spending time to sit down and talk with you, at the very least do some GOOD research ahead of time and ask more engaging questions that will solicit interesting answers that your readers would want to read. This was a missed opportunity for the City Paper, very sad.

  93. #93

    Will, I DO think Ryan is a moron and the Washington City Paper are idiots for hiring him.

    I think Coldplay fucking sucks and plays unoriginal weak-ass music. I wish they'd get dropped from their label and start teaching kids in the inner-city.

    I think Dan Brown is brain-dead and the world would have been better off if he never got published.

    How is that being an asshole? Does your critical perspective not allow you to hate anything? Do you hate things, but feel bound by some restrictive Victorian code never to express your hate for those things you think suck or your reasons for why you think they suck?

    I'm just guessing, but I think you feel defensive that the place you work for or perchance your own work is being criticized. If I was on a comments thread attacking a band savaged by your paper and calling them morons and hacks I don't think you'd rush to their defense and accuse me of being mean.

    I sympathize with your position, but I laid out very specific reasons why I thought the piece sucked and why I thought it reflected poorly on the cognitive powers, the professionalism, and the competence of the writer in question as well as the people behind his work. Your counter-point seems to be that calling something that sucks, sucky and the people who make sucky things, morons is somehow behind the pale of polite discourse. If you want to engage my argument on the merits then have had it, I would welcome the debate and discussion (you can even call me a moron!), but it seems a little childish to say "you're being mean to us, so go fuck yourself".

    Though I see you are the "Web Content Manager" here, so perhaps churlish deflection and an inability to admit mistakes is part of the training program they put you through. If so, it is a very effective one, and I suggest you escape this job while you still have any self-understanding or critical acumen left. It's not too late!!!

    I do appreciate you calling me an "asshole" instead of the more gender-expected "bitch" though. I'm being totally serious. Most times when you're in an argument with a dude they go there and it was pretty cool of you not to. It does mean a lot.

  94. #94

    I believe that Mr. Little represents something very rare in our society, scum that actually exists on a level lower than that of a real journalist.

  95. #95

    Oh. Just to be clear. Ryan being the antichrist, needing to die to restore balance to the force, and his getting stabbed in a parking lot by Jonathan Franzen being a good thing (a comment still awaiting moderation) is all hyperbole for the sake of humor.

    The stuff about him being a moron, idiot, unprofessional, mean-spirited, and bad at his job. I totally own that. That's what I really think. And I think it's appropriate to use words like that when someone does something this bad. You should hear me talk about Two and a Half Men!

  96. #96

    I thought Ellen Martel was being facetious with her first comment, but there was no "Seriously you guys, lighten up" at the end. So in that respect I agree with W.A.M., but I think it's a bit of a stretch to call her twitter feed 'obsessed' or Patton a 'celebrity'. (If you want to see obsessed: -- I don't remember how I came across this guy, but it's an amazing train wreck.)

    And Tom, while not every interviewer will be a fan, nor should people expect (in this case) him to be, it's not unreasonable to expect either a) basic research to be done and/or b) him to be charitable and not passive aggressive. I mean, if his research and interviewing chops are spot on, he has free reign to be aggro and get away with it. Same if he gets shit wrong and maybe conducts a weak interview, it'd be no big deal if it doesn't include an unnecessary p/a jab in the intro--and I honestly think (or at least want to believe) that was probably a rash decision and not intentional, which is not to excuse the editorial process, I just give people the benefit of the doubt that they're not petty assholes.

    Also, Tom, to Ryan's credit, he does say Patton was "certainly polite and honest." The "certainly" makes me think he really means it, so I don't think it was balls-out obvious that Patton didn't want to be interviewed, if he did in fact not want to be interviewed, which is hard to tell really. He probably just came off as not all that talkative.

    Anyway, it's obviously not a big deal. If Ryan feels like shit, I don't think he should. But if he doesn't feel bad at all, he should rethink the standards he sets for himself. I studied journalism for one year and none of this surprises me. It's a hard gig and often a bummer and it's easy to become jaded or spread yourself too thin. It's also really hard to do it very well and most journos don't. Plus, just because someone didn't write a decent article, doesn't mean they never will. In the words of Ron Artest, "It's not what I can do. It's what I'm gonna do."

    Better luck working on future articles, Ryan.

  97. #97

    *free r e i n

    not reign. See? Everyone makes mistakes.

  98. #98

    Ya. I typed "behind the pale" instead of "beyond the pale". Damn our flawed humanity.

    Good post C.F. I agree with most of it. You're more charitable than I am about Ryan's talent, but being more charitable makes your points read less unhinged than mine. :)

  99. #99

    Seriously. I still find it amazing that anyone is defending this interview. One his first questions was "did the DC comedy scene just not cut it for you?". What kind of question is that? Nothing but insulting and asinine. Comedians go on tour; they have to generally to make a name for themselves. And yeah, the DC comedy scene is about as productive as it's music scene at pumping out new artists. Go figure he isn't working clubs in Warrenton, VA. "You performed in smaller indie-rock venues. Were you going for street cred?" Also just insulting. Patton even gives the reason for playing these venues in Comedians of Comedy, which given the reporter's rave review of, one would assume he had actually watched. Patton explained very clearly that he wanted to provide a different experience from the usual comedy club, Laugh Factory-type experience.
    "You voiced a rat in Ratatouille. Did you have to do anything to really get in character for that?" WHAT? How does one answer that, let alone make it "funny"?
    Flat out, this reporter blew it. I think the majority of the comments on this board are merely pointing this out. I'm not saying there's a need for anyone to get fired, maimed, castrated, or burned at the stake for this. But god-forbid he get criticized for blowing an interview.

  100. #100

    "Uh, Dave Shutton, Springfield Daily Shopper. Who are you? What are you doing here?"
    "Oh, do your research, Shutton!"

  101. #101

    Just to be clear, The Patso, I am not defending the article in the least. I'm just not surprised by it. It's painful to read any newspaper article on a topic you know more about than the writer, which is why the toughest journo gig is sports because most of their readers are Big Fans (Get it? Man, second sports reference in two posts and I don't even follow any athletic pastimes), which again, isn't to excuse the editorial quality and yeah, I might have actually been too charitable about the whole journalism thing, but it's not the place for me to go into a rant about the rat-race of journalism. Emphasis on rat.

    You pretty much nailed everything wrong in that interview point by point--the first to mention the "street cred" question too. I actually grimaced when I read that it was so painful.

    But I think at this point it goes without saying that the whole article is a wash, no? Even the guy's colleague W.A.M. didn't bother defending it and just went after a commenter. J.L.F. owned up to his Osborn goof but also didn't defend Ryan's work. No one at the paper is defending it because it can't be defended (as proven by the few commenters who tried and failed).

    I just think to keep hammering home what is, at least implicitly, acknowledged might be mean and unnecessary. And perhaps reflects poorly on Patton's fans more than what is obviously a really unfortunate article. Maybe?

  102. #102

    Oh look, the wagons are circling.

    Will Atwood Mitchell: Nice deflection, douchebag. Your colleague asks shitty questions, gets a boring interview as a result and then blames the interviewee for not being funny and reveals himself to be incredibly unprofessional, and your response is to call commenters assholes. Nice to see that Ryan isn't the only self-absorbed dipshit working for this publication.

  103. #103

    To C.F. I hear ya, dude/dudette.

  104. #104

    Listen to Patton's track "Sterling, Virginia" from Werewolves and Lollipops. You are Arch Campbell, interviewer.

  105. #105

    I also did not mean to defend the article as a work of excellence but was merely trying to offer some perspective to counterbalance the insults and name-calling. But that's the level of discourse now, so please forgive me for getting in the way of the pile-on.

    Ellen (and a few others), thanks for the reasonable and thoughtful debate. Journalism is indeed in big trouble, but I hope the cream does rise to the top and we don't have to get all of our information from blogs, Twitter feeds and other sources with even less checks and balances.

    Ryan and the paper, keep your chin up and use this to get better. Remember, every time someone comments, you can charge another dollar for web ads.

    And I really am a huge fan of Patton's work. I'm jealous he came to this town and not mine. Headed off now to drown my sorrows in a sadness bowl piled with failure.

  106. #106

    Reminds me a little of this:

  107. #107

    You guys should check out Ryan's band.
    Their full-length is more impressive than anything you haters will accomplish in your entire lives.

  108. Billy Shakespeare

    "a moron, idiot, unprofessional, mean-spirited, and bad at his job."

    "Will, I DO think Ryan is a moron and the Washington City Paper are idiots for hiring him."

    "Ryan Little? More like Ryan Shittle!! Amiright!?!?!?!?!"

    "Jesus, I just re-read the interview. Little is a moron in that he had no idea he was being subtly mocked. If he’s not bright enough to see that, he has no business with a brilliant comedian like Patton Oswalt. Stick to a paper route jackass and leave the interviews to the people who are qualified to do them."

    "Ryan, You are a moron. You should not do what you do for a living. The Washington City Paper are idiots for hiring you, for utterly failing to editor your weak-sauce work, and for running your lazy, stupid interview filled with the least interesting questions imaginable in the first place. The fact that you totally sucked ass at your job and then blamed Patton, who by the way was mocking you throughout in a pretty funny way shows that you are an imbecile. You should receive vocational training so you can do useful work in a factory putting pins into holes. You are a pin-head-hole.

    You belong in the slow-class Ryan. Suck it up and accept your fate."

    I think you guys should re-think your comments. These are all being pointed at a human being. You give mankind anonymity and this is what you come up with? I am honestly disgusted.

  109. #109

    I like how no one acknowledge's Gene's attempts at humor, yet he feels the need to post four times.

  110. #110

    This interview is just terrible. not the comedian's fault - the interviewers.

  111. #111

    I'd like to point out that Steve is a douchebag...

  112. #112

    Gene is untouchable.

  113. #113

    Again, great job (NOT) on the interview, Ryan!

    Keep up the good work!


  114. #114

    Billy Shakespeare, thanks for your comments. People don't think about other people. For a lot of these folks, it seems like the outcome and effect are irrelevant as long as you're clever and vitriolic enough. Kind of a shit sense of priority, if you ask me.

    Ryan's a friend of mine. He's a well-spoken, intelligent, friendly guy. I agree there were some missteps here, but that doesn't say anything at all about him as a person. So flame on, guys...enjoy your tiny victories over some fictional target you've crafted.


  115. #115

    Yeah man. I actually know Ryan, too. He's an awesome guy and would never purposely offend so many people like he evidently did. I also heard he's sick. Any word on that?

  116. #116

    He seemed fine when I saw him last week, so no word on that that I know of. Unless you mean sick like skateboarder slang, in which case he's the sickest. And illest. Or whatever.


  117. #117

    Look, it's a sock-puppet party!

  118. #118

    I wish that every shitty journalist were a work of fiction.

    Too bad it isn't true in this case.

  119. #119

    Double-post for extra douchebaggery. Impressive.

  120. #120

    You're nothing more than a troll...impressive.

  121. #121

    I'm a response troll. I only roll in when there are other trolls that need counter-trolling. And you weren't even a challenge.

  122. #122

    ...and I LOVE the taste of fresh cock in the morning!

  123. #123

    Man, you guys need to get a life.

  124. #124

    Can I suck you off?

  125. #125

    Wow Steve, you get your official "Newfag" hat yet?

  126. #126

    Wait, what does that even mean?

  127. #127

    Pass the penis, please...

Comments Shown. Turn Comments Off.