Get in line early. Early. Bring a book. Get some food from one of the many outdoor vendors that you can eat in line. Patton Oswalt is the biggest comedy headliner at Bumbershoot, and for good reason. He's been here before, and his devoted fans will start lining up an hour before the show. However, be warned that the "and company" of Patton Oswalt and Company will eat up at least half of the hour-long show. (I'll save that rundown of supporting talent for a separate post.)
In his first of three appearances (details after the jump), Oswalt was both extremely confident and relaxed. Short and doughy, he doesn't have much stage presence or obvious charisma. (Hence his casting in movies like Big Fan.) But what he has is a voice, a master storyteller's command of anecdote and master narrative. He expertly interjects jokes old and new into the framework of a tale. You can't tell when he's improvising; that's how good he is.
And he anchored his set on Friday with an entirely new story, launched near his Seattle hotel in our very own Denny Park...
Bumbershoot's big acts are put up at a nice new hotel in South Lake Union (you can easily guess where), convenient to the SLUT and Whole Foods. This year, Oswalt opted to bring his wife and 16-month-old daughter, he explains. Arriving early, he looked at a map and saw park near the hotel. So they pushed their stroller to--get ready for it--Denny Park.
The audience groaned. Denny Park? "I didn't know! I didn't know!" Oswalt protests. Then he constructs an extremely funny depiction of their disastrous visit to what he deems "Sinister Meadows," replete with drum circles, vagrants, mystics, and quarrelsome hippie-homeless denizens of that grim patch of turf.
I won't spoil any of his jokes (again, get in line early), but out of this new material, barely one day old, Oswalt never loses grasp of the story's spine. He's an out-of-towner, but he likes Seattle. He's a liberal who's seen plenty of bad shit, but now he's a new parent. He doesn't meant to be an uptight interloper from Los Angeles, but he persuasively finds in Denny Park an urban analogue to a city "where they tolerate too much."
Also, he has very funny observation on the difference between clowns and transvestites. (Turns out, they're on a continuum.)
And, in case you didn't absorb the point above: Get in line early. Oswalt will likely do drop-in appearances on others' alloted hours, and his warm-up comics will likely vary. But the last 20 minutes will be his and his alone.
Patton Oswalt & Friends Comedy Stage South (Charlotte Martin Theater), 8 p.m. Sunday and 8 p.m. Monday.