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Wed, Jul 14


@ 5:24 PM

I was going to write an impersonal bulletin about some upcoming shows I have this month and August. But I looked at my schedule again and realized three different versions of me would be doing these shows.

My opener for (almost) all of these shows is Kyle Kinane. Variety just named him one of their “Top 10 Comedians To Watch.” I couldn’t agree with them more. Kyle’s been opening for me for about two years, and during that time he’s grown in those lurching leaps forward that young comedians take when they find their voice and everything they experience then becomes a joke. The act of writing “jokes” is no longer a task separate from them being in tune with how they recognize and react to even the most mundane details of their lives.

Right now, every performance of his is pretty much the same Kyle – on fire, hungry, young and on his way up.

My shows, however, feature different versions of me. And, between July 23rd and August 29th, Kyle and I are both sharing and diverging from different career trajectories. Here’s what I mean:

Friday, July 23rd
House of Blues, San Diego
8pm and 10:30 pm

Right in the middle of the San Diego Comic-Con, I’m doing two shows at the House of Blues. Kyle’s going to open these up. And, as you can probably guess, there will be a lot of surprise guests on these shows. Think about who I’m friends with, and who, in all probability, will be at the Con. Yes, they’ll be on the shows. Different pop-in guests on each one – trust me, it’s worth coming to find out.

This is pretty much the way Kyle & I work together, out on the road, in the theater and music clubs. He goes up cold (it’s a testament to how well he’s doing, now, as a comedian, that he was pretty much walk out onstage after an off-stage intro and slay), does about half an hour, then brings me up. Without, of course, my nerdy celebrity friends.

These shows – the tickets aren’t cheap. They aren’t particularly expensive, either, but it’s not seeing me for $5 at a Comedy Death-Ray Show in Los Angeles. At a Death-Ray Show, I’m way looser and experimental, trying out as much new stuff as I can. At a show like The House of Blues, I’m also doing new stuff – albeit, way more worked-out and written than the raw material that gets spat out at Death-Ray – but I’m very open, at the end, to doing “classic” bits that the audience yells out. I’m flattered to even have jokes that people consider “classic”. At my recent shows in Cleveland and Madison, WI, I did about an hour of new stuff and a handful of requests. I’m hard at work on my next album, so shows like The House of Blues in San Diego are a good chance to see bits in utero – over-written, and under-developed. Some get pruned and some get pumped, the more I travel and work.

After San Diego I stick around Los Angeles for awhile. Kyle doesn’t.

See, what he’s done for himself this summer is what a lot of young comedians with a lot of free time and slim prospects should be doing – he posted, online, that he was putting together a tour, and saw who invited him to use their space. Check out his next 6 shows:

Wednesday July 28th
Hoodlums Music and Movies in Tempe, AZ

Friday July 30th
Orange Cat Studios Denver CO

Saturday July 31st
The Sydney Omaha NE

Sunday August 1st
Replay Lounge Lawrence KS

Tuesday August 3rd
Full Moon Club Memphis TN

Thursday August 5th The New French Bar Asheville NC

Art studios, record stores, bars and nightclubs. Whoever would have him. This is how Zach Galifianakis and I did our first three Comedians of Comedy shows. Just strung ‘em together as best we could. And then found young artists to make posters, like the superlative Hoodlums flyer for Kyle’s Tempe show:

What will I be doing in Los Angeles during this time? Besides going over galleys for my new book (more on that later) I’m doing this show:

Saturday, July 31st The Largo

On February 27th of this year, before leaving for a month of unpleasantness in New York, I did one of my bi-monthly Patton Oswalt and Friends shows at The Largo.

The line-up was Blaine Capatch, Karen Kilgariff and Eddie Pepitone.

I don’t know what happened that night, but good Lord, the three of us and the audience gelled so perfectly. I am nakedly trying to re-create that atmosphere and that show. I hope I don’t come off like Bill Murray, maniacally re-living Groundhog’s Day with Andie MacDowell, ruining a spontaneous snowball fight with desperate hilarity. But Blaine, Karen and especially Eddie are three of my favorite performers right now, and this is a show I could not be more excited to get to watch, let alone perform on. If you were at the original show in February, I can pretty much guarantee you that, in the 5 months since they performed, they’ve got all new, all killer stuff.

August 6th, 7th and 8th
The Orange Peel in Asheville, NC (7 and 10 pm)
The Bijou Theater in Knoxville, TN (8pm)
Zanie’s in Nashville, TN (7 and 9:30 pm)

Remember where Kyle ended up at the end of his first, 6-day burst of comedy? Yep, Asheville. At a cool-looking bar called The New French Bar on Biltmore.

The following night, he’s opening for me in Asheville. 2 shows. Same set-up as we always do on the road.

And, unlike the San Diego shows, we’re both going to be freshly soaked in all that Asheville mountain hippie goodness (I get in the day before). Whereas San Diego is going to be a gigantic, magic-sword nerd-spasm, my 5 shows through North Carolina and Tennessee are going to feature a lot of what I cherish in road work – me reacting, without too much forethought, to things I’m seeing for the first time. My recent Madison gigs opened with my genuinely confused and frightened reactions to an ominous-sounding restaurant called Beef-a-roo, signs for which I spied on the highway while driving from O’Hare to Madison in a rental car. The last time I was in Asheville I saw two shirtless hippies fighting with sword in an alley. I really saw that. And you can be damn sure I yakked about it onstage. Is the restaurant with the huge eyeballs on the outdoor fence still there?

After the Asheville show Kyle and I drive in his pickup to Knoxville and Nashville. I’m really looking forward to Zanies – all my comedian friends have been singing its praises.

When the Sunday shows in Nashville are over, I fly home. Kyle doesn’t. Back into the truck for our bearded mini-Viking:

Monday, August 9th
Skull Alley
Louisville KY

Wednesday, August 11th Flytrap Music Hall
Tulsa OK

Thursday, August 12th 51st Street
Speakeasy OKC

Thursday, August 19th through Saturday the 21st Tempe Improv

See what Kyle’s doing here? This is why Kyle’s going to be huge – he’s mixing the fringe with the mainstream. Doing those three D.I.Y., loosey-goosey alt-style places (and yes, there’s “alt” in Oklahoma – hell, one of the best shows I ever did was a punk club in Salt Lake City). Then he follows it up with a bucket of ice water called The Tempe Improv.

Comedians who only did rooms like The Largo and Uncabaret never grew any muscles or hide. Comedians who only did the road and never experimented eventually had their voices muffled behind the muscles. Kyle’s pursuing a balance here.

As am I:

Monday and Tuesday, August 23rd and 24th The Improv
Irvine, CA

Like I said, I’m working on a new album. That’s why two days a month I go down to Irvine, California, to see if my stuff works “in front of the potato skins” (thank you, John Wenzel). For all the messy & precious “creating” I’ll be doing at The Largo, and on-the-spot in Asheville and San Diego, it’s always good to see what material of yours can compete with appetizers, drinks and the muddle of paying a check.

Kyle might be opening for me these two days. I’m not sure. But he’s definitely joining me for:

Thursday, August 26th through Sunday, August 29th
Cobb’s Comedy Club
San Francisco

Boy, am I lucky I’ve built the fanbase that allows me to do theaters. I am forever grateful. But every once and awhile I miss the weird evolution that comes from being in a city for four days, and pumping out eight shows. The set you do on a Thursday night is a vulnerable acorn compared to the confident oak of the Sunday show. Cobb’s, like the Irvine Improv, is a comedy club that serves drinks and food, but there’s something about San Francisco audiences that gives you such time to breathe – no one’s in a hurry. Which is not to say I don’t appreciate Irvine’s no-nonsense attitude – I need ‘em both if I’m going to do a good album.

And that’s the three versions of myself these next two months: professional showman (San Diego, N.C. and Tennessee, San Francisco), giddy impresario (The Largo, the slew of secret performers in San Diego) raw creator (Irvine). I hope you take the opportunity to see a few of them. We’ve all got similar versions.

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