Patton Oswalt

The 50 Funniest Stand-Up Specials of All Time

This Saturday night promises to be a big one for comedy geeks. First off, Comedy Central is airing Bill Cosby: Far From Finished, the legendary comedian and sitcom star’s first new comedy special in over 25 years. Meanwhile, over on HBO, Sarah Silverman is starring in her first special for the network, We Are Miracles. Though the two comedians couldn’t be more different, both specials feel like landmarks: innovative, intelligent, and brilliantly funny. To celebrate this big night for televised stand-up, here’s our definitive ranking of the 50 greatest comedy specials created for television, home video, or… Read More

  • 0

Ben Stiller’s ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ Is Sweet, Warm, But Not Quite Great

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which made its world premiere at the New York Film Festival Saturday, is one of those projects that’s been knocking around Hollywood for a while. It began as a slender story by James Thurber way back in 1939, first adapted (very loosely) for Danny Kaye in 1947. This current iteration has been in development since 1994; Jim Carrey, Owen Wilson, Mike Myers, Zach Braff, and Sacha Baron Cohen have all been attached to star, while Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, Chuck Russell, and Gore Verbinski (among others) were slotted to direct. Now, at long last, here is the film, directed by and starring Ben Stiller, whose take on the material neither remakes Kaye nor returns to Thurber. This script, Stiller said after the media screening Saturday afternoon, “didn’t try to redo what had already been done very well by Danny Kaye. And obviously I didn’t want to do that; nobody would want to see me attempt to do that.” … Read More

  • 0

Dustin Hoffman’s ‘Tootsie’ Tears: Let’s Stop Congratulating Men for Discovering That Sexism Exists

When I was in high school, while watching one of those American Film Institute specials about the best movies ever made, I remember seeing a segment on Tootsie, the brilliant comedy directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Teri Garr, and Bill Murray. After a variety of Hollywood A-listers extolled the virtues of the film, the montage cut to Hoffman, who recounted that, when donning his Tootsie costume and makeup, he broke down in tears when he realized that he was not an attractive woman. “Give me a break,” my mother, sitting next to me on the couch, muttered, rolling her eyes. “Next I’m sure he’s going to sob about Captain Hook’s lost childhood and how that inspired his portrayal in that movie about grown-up Peter Pan.” … Read More

  • 0

Is the Tide Finally Turning on Rape Jokes?

Over the weekend, Slate picked up a long, thoughtful, and altogether excellent piece from Patton Oswalt’s blog, which amounts to something of a “state of the union” on three of comedy’s consistently hot topics: joke theft, heckling, and rape humor. The first two topics are covered (as is Oswalt’s standard practice) thoughtfully, passionately, and with no shortage of humor. But the headline here, the reason people should be talking about this piece, is that he does something rather extraordinary in his discussion of rape jokes: he alters his previously stated opinion. “I had my viewpoint,” he writes, “and it was based on solid experience, and it…was…fucking…wrong.” … Read More

  • 0