Patton Oswalt is back with his new Netflix comedy special We All Scream, with nearly an hour of his signature — if not eclectic — style of hilarity. He teases out a truly absurd bit near the top that holds the audience longer than most comics can. His autobiographical storytelling is honed and hysterical. And whereas many comics fall into the trap of punching down with their social commentary, he punches himself directly in the face as he smartly lays out a nuanced take on cancel culture.
Some fans may be disappointed that the special is light on nerd stuff, which is highlighted when an audience member throws him for a moment with a multiverse reference before Oswalt not only recovers but nails the landing on his excellent crowd work segment. That being said, it’s a fun and well-paced hour at its best when poignantly exploring generational differences and getting older.
Here are five of the most hilariously relatable jokes from We All Scream.
5. Tony Hawk’s Broken Femur
When Oswalt broke his foot last year, some of his A-list friends reached out with words of encouragement. Legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk was one of them, and he came from the particularly empathetic position of having recently broken his femur while doing verticals on his skateboard.
“He DMs me a picture of his X-ray,” Oswalt recalls. “He's like, "Looks like we're in the same boat, buddy." But Oswalt disagrees.
“You just Jackie-Channed yourself into even more coolness. He found a whole other level of cool. I slipped off a curb like someone's aunt that saw a bird. That is how I went down. I went down in the most embarrassing way possible.”
We feel your pain, Patton. We feel your pain.
4. Unproductive COVID Shutdown
COVID came along and disrupted everyone’s plans. Not to be outdone, we took matters into our own hands and failed to live up to all of the productivity and self-care we aspired to achieve during the COVID shutdowns. But it wasn’t just you. We all have a bunch of unchecked boxes on the shutdown to-do list.
“I planned a great shutdown. I executed the worst one ever,” Oswalt confesses.
“If I had actually followed the list that I made, there'd be a different man standing in front of you right now. He'd be 30 pounds lighter. He'd be speaking fluent Italian. When all of you walked in, there would have been a handmade raspberry almond crumble tart on everyone's chair, on each chair.”
But Oswalt had plans to go beyond fancy dessert preparation because the culinary arts are multisensory. A simple paper plate is an unbecoming presentation for such a delicate dish, and even the thought of styrofoam must be rejected.
“You would have eaten it off an origami plate,” he continues. “When you're done eating, you throw the plate down, and it pops up into a frog. Oh my God! Oh, the plans I had! I didn't do any of that.”
3. COVID Vaccination Humility
At one point, Oswalt is perplexed by audience applause. They weren’t responding to a joke but instead his announcement that he’d been vaccinated and boosted.
“You get applause for taking the most basic care of your health?” he asks incredulously. Because to him, getting vaccinated is as expected as properly using the restroom. It’s not like he anticipates positive reinforcement for bathroom hygiene.
“I'm no hero now,” he says. “It's the lumberjacks who cut down the trees that make the toilet paper. Those are the heroes.”
2. Naming XM Radio Stations
Oswalt was driving around, minding his own business, when suddenly he realized that only a couple of XM stations playing music from a specific decade had cool names. He liked 40’s Junction. He didn’t mind 50’s Gold. But after that, the pattern simply resorts to numbers and he has some ideas about descriptive names for the rest of the stations, starting with the 60s.
“You couldn't do Poodle Skirts and Milkshakes? You couldn't do Patchouli Oil and Love Beads, or whatever? Give the '70s channel a name emblematic of the decade. You know, Your Mother and I Are Separating Radio.”
“The '80s could be Trapper Keeper Tunes. And then the '90s channel could just be...I don't know…”
After a beat where he’s unable to settle on a proper descriptive term for millennials, he simply settles for a petulant sigh and mumble, which is stereotypically on-brand in a “get off my lawn” kind of way for a man of his age.
1. Accepting the Aging Process
Everybody gets old, and Oswalt has some advice to help people embrace aging with grace.
“Pretend you're Jeff Goldblum in The Fly, and you're watching all this weird shit happen. You're like, "Oh my!" Get a leather-bound notebook. Take notes, you know, late at night, like... Oh. My farts smell like old books. But I'm not eating old books. This calls for further examination."
While he encourages people not to take getting old personally, he doesn’t sugarcoat the challenges people face from middle age onward. But there’s encouragement in knowing nobody is alone.
"Day 17. Takes longer to stop peeing than it does to pee. It's coming for all of us.”
Stream Patton Oswalt’s We All Scream Now on Netflix