Patton Oswalt Speaks Out About Cancel Culture Ahead of New Netflix Special

by Alex Falls

Patton Oswalt is a beloved personality in the world of comedy. He’s an award-winning stand-up comedian, he’s acted in countless films and TV shows, and he’s even a comic book writer. The comedian now gets to add directing to his resume with his new Netflix stand-up special, We All Scream.

The comedian filmed the special at the Paramount Theater in Denver, Colorado and it’s his fourth special on the streaming service. His routine touches on everything from aging to finding humor during a world-changing pandemic.

Oswalt sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to talk about the current political climate and how he tries to walk the line in the era of “cancel culture.”

“I think I’ve always been very trusting of my audiences to just kind of rise to the occasion and get whatever the joke is going to be,” Oswalt said. “Rather than trying to pre-anticipate, like, ‘Okay, so what’s the mood of the country? What should I be saying?’ It’s like I know that at least my audience, and I hope this doesn’t sound like a brag, but they’ll get that I’m joking and that I’m trying to embrace the absurdity of everything we’re living in.”

Oswalt said navigating the current trends of the world can make comedy difficult. He remembered a piece of advice he received that said Twitter and the internet do not represent the real world. They amplify current events and some people become distracted from real issues happening in society.

“In the actual world, people, for the most part, are struggling to help each other and live lives and try to just be human beings,” Oswalt said. “Unfortunately, it’s like we have bad parents who are modeling awful behavior for us, and we’re the kids. That’s what we’re seeing right now.”

Oswalt’s True Calling

Oswalt is a man of many talents, but he considers stand-up comedy his true calling. Even when he’s balancing multiple projects, he always finds time to hit the road and make audiences laugh.

“It’s funny, everything that I do in other areas, writing, acting, producing, is so that I can increase my visibility and keep doing stand-up,” Oswalt said. “The stand-up is always something that I’m doing. I’m either in the process of working on the next set or thinking about what that next hour is going to look like. So, it’s not that I find the time, it’s that everything else is fit around me doing stand-up.”

The Emmy Award-winning comedian understands what’s happening in society impacts how he can talk to the audience. He said comedy has always worked better with restrictions.

“Think of the restrictions that Richard Pryor and George Carlin had. And before them, Lenny Bruce, and they found clever, brilliant ways around whatever the restrictions were, that’s what made it so fun and thrilling.” Oswalt continued by saying, “It’s just that there should always be taboo subjects and then there should always be clever ways to talk about them. You want both of those things. But like, if everything’s allowed, then there’s no thrill to the comedy.”