Patton Oswalt: Endearing, Enduring Effervescence
Written by Eric Mitts. Photo: Patton Oswalt.


Emmy and Grammy Award-winning actor and comedian Patton Oswalt has played countless unforgettable characters throughout his career. From Spence Olchin on the beloved CBS sitcom “The King of Queens,” to voicing Remy in Disney Pixar’s “Ratatouille,” he has brought his singular charm and earnest heart to everything he has done. 

But despite all his success and fame onscreen, he has never forgotten about his love for standup comedy.

“It’s the one creative endeavor left where there are no network notes,” Oswalt told Revue about going back out and doing standup. “It’s good to have a venue left where I can blurt and bleat straight from my skull.”

Returning to the road for several shows this month – including a return stop at GLC Live at 20 Monroe on May 17 – Oswalt will embark on his Effervescent Tour, with all new material that draws from the unpredictably wide variety of topics he has tackled in his comedy over the years.

“I’m compelled to talk about whatever is going on with me that day, be it personal or more, well, cosmic,” Oswalt said. “You can’t help but not comment on politics — or, at least, how it’s being portrayed in the media — simply because it’s become part of our daily psychological makeup. I just keep trying to find sanity.”

He found a surprising source of sanity from one of his latest acting roles: that of Lafayette Baker in Apple TV’s acclaimed miniseries “Manhunt,” which follows the 12-day search for John Wilkes Booth after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865. The demanding dramatic role took Oswalt back to that dark time in American history, but it also gave him a new perspective.

“Well, it was weirdly reassuring to know we’ve been a lot closer to the brink of annihilation than we seem to be now,” he said. “We’ve pulled ourselves back before, hopefully we can do it again.”

When asked if he could pick a favorite character he’s played, Oswalt noted another lawman he brought his own personality to portraying.

“I mean, everything I’ve done acting-wise, whether it be on-camera or voice over, I’ve had to bring something to,” he said. “I especially loved Constable Bob Sweeney on Justified only because he was such a surprising character, even to me. I’ll always have a little special light in my heart for that guy.”

Looking back on his now 30-year acting career – going all the way back to his first-ever TV role as “Video Store Clerk” on “Seinfeld” in 1994 – Oswalt explained how that same nervous kid looking to get his big break is still how he approaches everything now.

“I will always get nervous before acting, or doing stand-up, or even writing, because I care about the thing I’m doing creatively,” Oswalt said. “When I stop getting nervous is when it’s time to quit.”

Forever a fanboy himself, Oswalt has become a part of many popular franchises and extended universes, from Star Trek, to Marvel and DC, and most recently Ghostbusters, after appearing in the latest movie, “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” as Dr. Hubert Wartzki. 

“(It’s) Surreal but also gratifying,” Oswalt said. “I have to separate myself from the 14 year-old fanboy who’s seeing his dreams come true, and the professional actor who’s there to do the best job they can.”

In addition to adapting Marvel’s “M.O.D.O.K.” into a stop-motion animated series for Hulu, with co-creator Jordan Blum – where he also voice the titular character – Oswalt has also teamed with Blum to author their own original comic book series, “Minor Threats,” which recently released its second volume, “Minor Threats Volume 2: The Fastest Way Down” via Dark Horse Comics earlier this year.

“It’s probably the most meaningful thing I’ve done up to this point in my career,” Oswalt said about the comic. “It’s a whole world, and sometimes it’s out of my control, which means I wrote it so well it’s taking on its own life. Bliss.”

Although he’s performed in Grand Rapids several times before, Oswalt did confess he doesn’t have many memories of past times here as his insanely busy schedule keeps him from spending much time in any one place.

“Touring creates a memory smear of hotel lobby and breakfast buffets, unfortunately,” he said of life on the road. “But I love the Midwest – and the South – for the simple reason that they remind you the Internet isn’t real.”

Patton Oswalt: Effervescent

GLC Live at 20 Monroe, 11 Ottawa Ave. NW, Grand Rapids

May 17, 7 p.m., $59.00 +,