Patton Oswalt‘s fifth stand-up special finds the comedian in strong form, humorously putting under the microscope his perceived strengths and shortcomings as a father, while also pondering the future of America and humankind as a whole. In large measure an engaging, curated trip into the performer’s own commingled personal and professional lives, Patton Oswalt: Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time is proof that wit, intelligence and innate narrative instincts are often a better foundation for comedy than rapid-fire jokes built around discrete subjects.
Oswalt is a personable storyteller, and as with many of his previous shows and appearances, Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time unfolds as a narrative-based effort, with long-ish, shrewdly observed yarns punctuated by occasional pin-prick asides. It isn’t powered by jokes in the traditional sense, though when Oswalt drops one (“Part of getting old for a man is suddenly becoming interested in World War II, for no reason”) it tends to connect just fine, like a sharp jab.
Director Bobcat Goldthwait, meanwhile, oversees an unfussy technical package, shot on location at San Diego’s Spreckels Theater, that eschews any lengthy filmed set-up, and instead uses changes in background lighting to serve as visual counterpoint to some of the more natural partitions in Oswalt’s show. For the full, original review, from ShockYa, click here. Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time world premieres on Epix on Friday, January 17 at 10 p.m. Eastern time, and replays throughout the month. For more information, visit the channel’s eponymous website. (Epix, unrated, 55 minutes)