54 of the Funniest Patton Oswalt Jokes and Moments for His 54th Birthday
If you don’t like Patton Oswalt, then we don’t want to know you. In fact, get out of here.
It’s been 35 years since he first stepped up to a mic, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down. In addition to his trenchant stand-up act, he’s written for all forms of media, displays excellent range as an actor and has lent his voice to dozens of animated characters across movies, TV and video games.
Better yet, today is his 54th birthday! And so, to celebrate his latest completed trip around the sun, we’ve jangled together 54 of our favorite jokes and moments from his career.
His First Ever Sitcom Appearance on ‘Seinfeld’
Using Twitter for Good
Oswalt’s reputation for putting trolls in their place is legendary. But when Oswalt looked at one hateful commenter’s feed and saw that he had major health problems, he started a crowdfunding campaign that raised over $30,000 to help the guy out.
On KFC Famous Bowls
“KFC’s famous bowls are their top-selling item. America has spoken: Pile my food in a fucking bowl, I don’t give a shit. I just want a light brown hillock of glop. If you could put my lunch in a blender and liquefy it and then put it into a caulking gun and inject it right into my femoral artery, even better. But until you invent a Lunch Gun, I would like a failure pile in a sadness bowl.”
On Mega Chicken Legs
The sequel to the KFC Famous Bowls bit, where Oswalt talks about a different monstrosity KFC had tried to test market: “The MegaLeg. It’s a giant chicken leg — that’s it! That’s the whole twist! It’s a chicken leg the size of a turkey leg. And the girl in the commercial asked one of the KFC counter people, ‘Are chicken legs supposed to be that big?’ And he said, ‘No, they’re not! We found a way—’
“‘We found a way’ equals ‘something went horribly wrong in an underground lab. We couldn’t get the blast doors closed in time. This thing chewed its way to the surface.’”
“‘You’ve gotta respect everyone’s beliefs.’ No, you don’t. That’s what gets us in trouble. You have to acknowledge everyone’s beliefs, and then you have to reserve the right to go: ‘That is fucking stupid. Are you kidding me?’ I acknowledge that you believe that, that’s great, but I’m not going to respect it. I have an uncle that believes he saw Sasquatch. We do not believe him, nor do we respect him!”
On the Star Wars Prequels
“I don’t give a shit where the stuff I love comes from! I just love the stuff I love! Hey, do you like Angelina Jolie? Does she give you a big boner? Well, here’s Jon Voight’s ball sack!”
On Emceeing a Show While Dealing with the Stomach Flu
“And everything started going: My nose, my eyes... I began to gently shit my pants.”
As the Penguin, Pointing Out the Problem with Batman’s ‘One Rule’
“I want to apologize to anybody that I ever made fun of for wearing sweatpants in public. I’m sorry. I was wrong. You were right. They’re a miracle. I thought that the pinnacle of mankind would be Mars colonies or teleportation. Nope, sweatpants! That was it: Sweatpants. It was fire, the wheel, writing, agriculture, penicillin and sweatpants. Everything else, we’re just on the downward slope. We did it. We’re all done.”
On Black Angus Steakhouses
“Have you noticed how the ads for Black Angus turned into this gauntlet of angry food? It’s like they’re almost challenging you: ‘At Black Angus, we’ll start you off with our appetizer platter featuring five jumbo deep-fried Gulf shrimp served on a disc of salted butter, with 15 of our potato bacon bombs and a big bowl of pork cracklins with our cheese and butter dipping sauce.’
“‘Um, we’re all going to split that—’
“‘Oh, you’ll each get your own! Then we’ll take you to our mile-long soup and salad bar, featuring bacon and cheese cream soup, and our five head of iceberg lettuce He-Man salad served in a punch bowl with 18 pounds of ranch dressing, pork-stuffed deep-fried croutons and a couple of corn dogs.’”
On Pitching the Idea of the Circus
“‘We’re gonna put up a tent on the outskirts of town, and we’re gonna fill it with depressed animals walking slowly. Did I say walking? I meant trudging. Trudging counterclockwise in an oval. And while they do it, we’re going to play creepy Calliope music over them — their spirits broken, no connection to the wild.’”
Oswalt’s first starring role, in which he plays a New York Giants superfan whose life gets thrown into upheaval after he gets beaten up by his favorite player while asking for an autograph.
Defending ‘Blade: Trinity’
“If you just sit and watch Blade: Trinity, it’s a D-. It just doesn’t work, but if you know what they went through to get that movie made, it’s an A+. The fact that that movie exists puts it above Citizen Kane, with all the craziness that went down.”
On Being Woke
“You know what doesn’t age well? Woke. It really doesn’t. I’m woke, I think. But I won’t be someday, and so will all of you. Be woke. Be open-minded. Just don’t pat yourself on the back, ’cause it’ll bite you in the ass. Everyone getting canceled now for not being woke was woke about something, they just couldn’t keep up with progress. Progress will always fucking steamroll you. I’m very pro-trans, very pro-gay marriage, very pro-gay rights and very pro-abortion. But that’s going to blow up in my face someday. I’ll be doing comedy when I’m 70, and I will let slip something that I won’t be able to keep up with. I’ll be like, ‘I don’t think people should fuck their clones.’
“‘No wait, I’m pro-trans—’
“‘Fuck you, clone hater!’
His Part in the Netflix Reboot of ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’
His Misleading Twitter Prank
Back in 2013, Oswalt used Twitter’s then-140 character limit to hilarious use by breaking up his thoughts on the issues of the day into two separate tweets, therefore making the second part sound horribly out-of-context. Read them in all of their glory here.
On Strippers versus Comedians
“I know that the bellwether for bad parenting is the stripper, but I put it to you that a comedian is way worse than a stripper. A stripper goes on stage, shows you her tits and her ass, and you give her money — as well you should. That is a warm neighborly thing to do. A comedian goes on stage, keeps his clothes on and talks about his genitals. How crazy would you think the stripper was if she came out and did that? Came out fully clothed, ‘Guys let me tell you about my vagina for the duration of this REO Speedwagon song. You’re definitely going to want to hear all about this. Get your dollar bills out, this is well worth your time.’ Like, wow, her dad must have fucked her in a Garfield mask.”
On Mike Huckabee’s Terribly Unfunny Tweets
On Stella D’oro Breakfast Treats
How a cookie commercial from the late 1970s fueled young Oswalt’s fear of marriage: “What kind of market research did the ad company do? ‘We’ve done research that shows that these cookies appeal to people in their late 50s trapped in failed, hateful marriages. And as they sink deeper into the separating asshole of mutual acrimony and defeat, they need to gnaw on your sweet crumbly cookie.’”
His Irreverent Turn as the Marvel Supervillain M.O.D.O.K.
On Comparing Injuries with Tony Hawk
“A month after I broke my foot, Tony Hawk broke his femur in two. POW! Landed a vertical wrong. In his warehouse, doing his verticals, landed it wrong and broke his femur. He DMs me a picture of his X-ray. He’s like, ‘Looks like we’re in the same boat, buddy.’ I’m like, ‘No, we’re fucking not! You just Jackie-Chan-ed 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.”
On Being Cynical
“I didn’t realize how bad my outlook on life was until I went on a press tour for Ratatouille and had to talk to children’s magazines and children’s TV shows. And I wasn’t interviewed by adults; I was interviewed by actual smiling children. I didn’t realize until that point how desperately I depend on negativity and cynicism to communicate with the outside world. It’s pathetic. The Oswalt family crest should just be a pair of eyes rolling off to the side, a bag of Cheetos and then the word fuck. That would be our shield that you’d see retreating from the great battles of history. ‘Fuck this. Bows and arrows? Nobody told me anything about bows and arrows. Goodbye.’”
As the Ball-Grabbing Chief-of-Staff-Turned-Campaign-Manager Teddy Sykes on ‘Veep’
Tweeting with His Loved Ones
Oswalt’s back-and-forths with his wife Meredith Salenger are so sweet that they require a dose of insulin. But it’s the interactions with his brother/comedy writer/photographer Matt Oswalt that are particularly enjoyable, like earlier this month after Patton appeared on Celebrity Jeopardy!:
“The only reason to visit Florida is to identify your daughter’s dead body. That’s it. The state flag of Florida should be a coroner holding up a sheet, and then two parents just screaming. Then there’s a flamingo in the bottom right-hand corner with sunglasses going, ‘YEAHHH!’ And then in Latin it says, ‘Why did she go into porn?’”
His Bit of ‘Drunk History’
‘The Comedians of Comedy’
This documentary (and follow-up Comedy Central series) following Oswalt on the road with friends Brian Posehn, Maria Bamford and Zach Galifianakis is a great showcase of their comedic talents just before they all hit it big.
On Cursive Writing
“Is cursive writing magic? Does it have magical qualities? I’m just asking because it hit me the other day: Any contract I’ve ever signed for anything — for a car, for a home — there’s that last page. And there’s the one line where it says, ‘Print your name,’ which is kind of labor intensive. Then the second line: ‘Sign your name.’ And it’s not until you sign your name in cursive that the thing becomes official, which is the document’s way of saying, ‘Put your name down in print. Alright, now you won’t own this house until you make that signature go, ‘Ooooooooh!’’ Who the fuck invented that? It’s like a bad magic spell! ‘I see P-A-T-T, but can’t the P go, ‘Wheeeeeeee!’”
His Voicework in ‘Ratatouille’
On Extreme Hikers
“Hiking is for trudging defeatedly. We’ve all agreed to it. It’s unspoken, but it’s there. But every now and then, somebody’s gotta show up, and they gotta do that weird, extra, show-off-y workout shit. It’s not enough that they’re hiking, they gotta do that urban workout where you turn the environment around you into your gym. You see a tree branch, you jump up and you fucking do pull-ups, yeah! Where you see a park bench, you drop and you do crunches. Grr! Grab a possum and curl it. Everything is your gym. And the men and women who do this are already gorgeous! There’s not an ounce of fat on them, you see every rib and rivet. I don’t know what fitness level they’re going for. It’s like they’re trying to reach a fitness level I like to call ‘painful to fuck.’”
His Best ‘King of Queens’ Gag
Breaking Down Everything That’s Wrong with the Worst Christmas Song of All-Time
This story about witnessing a street fight changed Oswalt’s whole perspective on the world:
His Legitimate Badassery on ‘Justified’
On ‘80s Music Videos
“The one recurring motif in these videos that I wish would come back were the bands that could rock so hard, they could change the physical properties of things. They would blow holes through walls, or they’d walk up to your crappy Geo and go, ‘SCRIBBITY FLABBITY DOO,’ and all of sudden it’s a sleek Lamborghini!”
Roasting Politicians on Twitter
Oswalt frequently takes politicians and political pundits to the cleaners on Twitter over their bullshit, but the roasting goes to another level when those politicians decide to shoot first. Like when clout-obsessed blobfish Ted Cruz tried take his shot:
His Hidden Hand on ‘The Goldbergs’
Oswalt’s narration has made him the most important character on the sitcom, and we never get to see him. Hopefully they have him in a flash-forward one day.
On Drunk Audiences
“For half an hour I did not tell one joke. I’m not exaggerating: I did not tell a joke. I had my career screamed at me, I agreed with it, then I said good night and got a standing ovation. I walked offstage, and I said to myself, ‘I just paid for one year of my daughter’s college. I did not tell a single joke, and I’ve never made an audience happier.”
His Daughter Alice
Not once, but twice now, Oswalt talking about his daughter’s favorite cartoons has led the producers of those shows — Doc McStuffins and My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic — to invite him to do a guest voice on the show.
The Brilliant Uneasiness of ‘I Love My Dad’
Oswalt plays an estranged father who catfishes his son in an attempt to reconnect. It’s not an easy watch, but it shows he’s no one-trick-pony as an actor either.
“In the obituaries, no one ever dies of cancer. People always ‘give in after a valiant battle with cancer,’ or ‘they throw in the towel after a courageous fight,’ which, statistically, can’t be possible. There had to be a couple of cowardly ordeals in there. Like, ‘Bob Smith died today after a craven, cowardly ordeal with cancer, during which he wished the disease on his family and friends in an attempted pact with Satan, which left his basement covered in goat’s blood and four boxes of chalk needlessly wasted trying to summon a demon who never appeared. A few mourners who showed up at his funeral had a hard time not giggling. Good riddance.’”
His Critically Hailed Performance in ‘Young Adult’
Oswalt received a ton of awards nominations for his portrayal of Matt, a man so beaten down (both physically and emotionally) by life that even sex with Charlize Theron is a difficult experience for him.
“Not only are buffets gonna come back, they’re gonna come back with this weird, own-the-libs vengeance. Every one of them’s gonna have an agenda: ‘Come on down to Captain COVID’s Alpha Males Only Buffet! Are you the kind of leftwing soy boy that needs a sneeze guard over your clam chowder, or are you able to fuck your wife? Then come on down to Captain COVID’s. Show us proof you ain’t been vaccinated, and get a free platter of room-temperature scallops.’”
The imaginary friend of a crazy, alcoholic, drug-addicted former cop, and it’s a little blue unicorn voiced by Patton Oswalt? Why were there only 18 episodes of this batshit brilliance?
Inserting Himself into Mad Max: Fury Road
On Selling Out
“When I was 25, all I did was just scream, ‘Sellout! Fucking sellouts! Corporate sellout! Industry bullshit!’ I looked back on it and I realized, "Oh, I was screaming sellout because nobody wanted to buy what I was selling.”
On His First Job as a Wedding DJ
“My bosses would say shit like, ‘You know, Patton, a little bit of, uh, DJ wisdom. A little bit of DJ lore. You might not know this, but, uh, if something goes wrong with the wedding, that means that marriage is solid. When you think about it, we’re kind of doing a beautiful thing here. We’re building the foundations for lifelong romances. That’s what we do here. You could almost say we’re love wizards.’
“And I bought that hook, line and sinker! So now I’m at my wedding and nothing’s going wrong. It’s beautiful, and I’m the one guy going, ‘Should I punch somebody.’ Or: ‘I wanna be with her. Should I take my dick out?’ I don’t know what to do. Like, something should go wrong.
“It took me till the reception to go, ‘What the fuck were they telling me? That was bullshit! There’s no DJ lore! They were just trying to justify the fucking horrible shit that we had to witness every weekend. All those marriages didn’t last a month after we did those gigs. We were not love wizards. We were divorce necromancers.”
As the Out-of-His-Depth Principal Drubin on ‘A.P. Bio’
Interrupting an Orgy
The story of Oswalt and his wife going to view a house, only to find that the owner had forgotten about the appointment when he had some friends, ahem, come over: “We walk inside, there are air mattresses all over the floor, people are scattering everywhere. At one point, this busty Russian girl comes out, putting a robe on: ‘Oh, my goodness. The, uhh (snaps), cleaning lady did not come by.’ Oh, you’re not even fucking trying! Really?!? That was the first thing you thought of? ‘Yeah, the cleaning lady didn’t come by at 10 a.m. on a Sunday. You should fire that bitch. That’s really unprofessional. Everyone knows Saturday night is fuck night! Bring three buckets!’”
On the Trump Years
“Let me tell you what it’s like being a comedian while Trump is the president. The Trump presidency is an 18-wheeler full of monkeys and PCP. And it has crashed into a train full of diarrhea. And now there’s diarrhea-covered monkeys on PCP running around. And everyone’s watching it like, ‘Holy shit, look at this!’ And then you, as a comedian, walk up and go, ‘Hey, wanna hear a joke I wrote about this?’ You’re like, ‘No, we’re good, dude. I’m fine. I mean, Jesus, look at all this. You can take a break.’”
On His First Joke as a Comedian
His ‘Parks and Recreation’ ‘Star Wars’ Filibuster
Oswalt’s 2017 Netflix special is incredibly bittersweet. It was his first after the death of his wife, true-crime journalist Michelle McNamara. He addresses the tragedy for the last half, speaking very honestly about his grief and sharing this touching memory of her: “My wife was a true-crime writer and researcher, and the phrase she hated the most was, ‘You know, everything happens for a reason.’ She’s like, ‘No, it fucking doesn’t! It’s chaos. It’s all random. And it’s horrifying. And if you want to try to reduce the horror and reduce the chaos, be kind, that’s all you can do. It’s chaos. Be kind.’ She would just say that all the time: ‘It’s chaos. Be kind.’”
On ‘Jerry Maguire’
“In the middle of Tom Cruise’s speech, there’s this sudden, dramatic pull-in to his face, and there’s tears in his eyes, and he says, ‘We live in a cynical world.’ And that’s when my brother went, ‘FUCK YOU!’ at the top of his lungs. It was such a horrible, rude thing to yell, and I was laughing so hard I couldn’t get the air in to make the sound of laughter.
“People ask me, ‘What is your favorite comedy of all time?’ ‘Jerry Maguire, when my brother yells, ‘Fuck you!’ at Tom Cruise.’ It’s a 90-minute setup to one punchline. It’s like not jerking off for 10 years, and then painting the garage! ‘Oh, my God, I’m seeing dead kings!’”