In 2009, Patton Oswalt and his wife Michelle welcomed a child in to this world. For a comedian who was known as edgy and vulgar, fans had to wonder how having a daughter would effect his comedy. On his first postpartum album Finest Hour, Patton complained about lack of sleep while doing a lot of singing, garbled speech, and fart noises. It indeed was not his finest hour. Two years later, Oswalt releases his fifth album, Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time.
The two years between albums is important because it allowed his daughter to grow and his stories about her to mature and develop. Perhaps the album’s best bit comes on a track called “Adorable Racism” where Oswalt talks about his daughter mistaking an old black man with a white beard for the monkey in the Lion King. It is one of the most successful attempts he has to mix his “edgy” comedy with his new found love of daddy/daughter stories.
What isn’t quite as successful is the transition of material. The switch from daddy/daughter stories to straight comedy seems abrupt and awkward. Transitioning from “Adorable Racism” to a bit called “Money and Pussy” is awkward to say the least. The album ends with Patton abruptly switching between a story about hiring his first prostitute to a story about playing in Germany. “My Prostitute” is really one of the weaker bits on the album and closing track “Germany” is actually surprisingly predictable. Patton draws the conclusion that Germans have no sense of humor because of the holocaust which is no real revelation.
While Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time does fair better than Finest Hour, it still doesn’t quite deliver like pre-child album Werewolves and Lollipops. Although you must hand it to Oswalt, he integrates his daughter into the album more successfully than most. It will be interesting to see how his career evolves as his daughter gets older. Since her birth, his albums have been progressively better so hopefully it continues on that trajectory.
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