Oswalt returns to the stage with ‘We All Scream’

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Patton Oswalt’s latest comedy special, “Patton Oswalt: We All Scream,” made its debut on Netflix yesterday. If any of you are in need of a light chuckle or some outright laughter, this quick 58-minute special could do just the trick. Oswalt touches upon a plethora of topics fom politics, breaking-and-entering, the pandemic, some bathroom jokes and so much more. 

As someone who watched Oswalt’s last special, “Patton Oswalt: I Love Everything,” I had moderate expectations for this next venture, which were aptly met. I wasn’t in stitches with every punch line, but I certainly hit every level on the laughing spectrum from an aggressive nasal exhale to near tears. Personally, I’d rank Oswalt near the top of B-list comics. I don’t think he’d sell out any ballparks, but I’d definitely get a ticket to see him if he ever decided to grace us with his presence here at Storrs. 

The special was filmed in the ‘mile-high city’ of Denver, with a cast of unexpected, diverse audience members ripe for Oswalt’s picking. No occupation was safe from Oswalt’s ridicule… Well, one was safe, but you’ll have to see that for yourself. The quick-witted comedian was able to make some impressive digs right on the spot that really flaunted his improvisational skills. 

Any and all subjects were on the table for Oswalt to take a swing at. If you can get past his rather long explanation of a fairly unsavory analogy, his insights on the pandemic, vaccines and our nation’s political divide are actually just as astute as they are humorous. Some shocking observations are drawn between the current push for COVID-19 vaccines and boosters compared to the 1955 Polio vaccine. He also offers a relieving historical perspective on many of the events that have transpired since 2016. 

He connects with the audience on shared feelings during that atrocious lockdown two-and-a-half years ago. Many of us thought of quarantine as a great opportunity to organize and reinvent ourselves, but wistfully proceeded in the opposite direction of that progress. He playfully touches upon the drive we all had for improvement, which was ultimately transformed into monotony through divided boredom. 

Oswalt also offers some quality commentary on the growing generational animosity from everyone’s favorite age group: the baby boomers. His perspective as a member of Gen X is interesting to hear put into comedy. However, it simultaneously sounds like the half-drunken rant your uncle or dad spews over Thanksgiving break. In fact, there are a fair amount of dad jokes, and one can tell from the audience’s reactions that not all of them landed. 

Other than addressing fun societal observations of our government and head-butting generations, Oswalt still has the satirical skills to pull off a clever bathroom joke. It’s not super easy to relate to, as the situation he illustrates doesn’t sound like anything anyone from our era will have to deal with for quite some time, but it does cunningly tie back into the human experience. 

Overall, there were some moments early on in the special where I was questioning myself as to why I was watching it, but by its conclusion, I was grateful for its different perspective. It accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do in entertaining the audience. Of course, Oswalt slightly pushes the envelope at times, but that’s to be expected from any valuable comedian. 

Rating: 3/5

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