• Patton Oswalt Fred Phelps Westboro Baptist Church essay SPIN

    Here's Patton Oswalt's 2007 Takedown of Westboro Baptist Boss Fred Phelps

    This article originally appeared in the July 2007 issue of SPIN. Fred Phelps died March 20, 2014.Sect's Pisol Is there anything more punk rock than the Westboro Baptist Church's "God Hates the World" video? I'm being serious. I've never seen the anarchic spirit, the DIY ethos, or the hardcore antisocial stance in more robust action than in this braying, backwoods mini-opera, a parody of USA for Africa's "We Are the World." I must have watched it a dozen times before YouTube took it down. Thanks, YouTube. I finally find a song I can do my ab crunches to, and you deny me. Time to break out the crisis pants.

  • Illustration by Raymond Biesinger

    I'm Not There: Patton Oswalt's Favorite Festival Set Never Even Happened

    I'd been invited to perform at Bumbershoot back in the late '90s. I was so happy to even go, much less with an all-access laminate swinging from my neck like the God of Indie Cred's cock itself. Ninety-six hours in Seattle over Labor Day weekend, under skies as blue as a Joni Mitchell album and as clear as a straight-edger's urine sample. I knew how amazing Seattle audiences could be, but at a music festival as friendly, ambling, and all over good-vibey as Bumbershoot? They were an opium addict's vision of the perfect crowd, a "What if comedy were this fucking fun?" ideal, passed like wistful folklore among comedians who'd suffered through hell gigs in Pittsburgh or Boston. I can still remember the Monday night after that long weekend, when the other comics and I were drinking like test pilots back at the hotel.

  • Illustration by Raymond Biesinger

    Patton Oswalt in SPIN's Loud Issue: Enjoy the Silence

    The electric thrum of the power charging up the speakers at the lip of the stage feels like a million unstoppable tanks driven by a million PCP addicts, barely held in check, and then… One guitar string is plucked by one fingernail, and a shockwave of sound, riding on the collective, slumbering explosion of the crowd, breaks and fires and crashes into all the walls of the club… And we're, all of us, band and audience, out of ourselves and into the air, seared away by 100 decibels of sonic charging stallions, gulping fire and spitting suns… (But the song ends.

  • Illustration by Raymond Biesinger

    Patton Oswalt's First New SPIN Column: This Way to the Egress

    You could rage against the seemingly never-ending recycling of ideas and sense of entitlement that dominates our culture. Or you could use that to forge a path forward. Follow Patton Oswalt if you want to live. Oh Lord, we're doing the nostalgia thing again. We're always going to be doing the "nostalgia thing," one way or another, aren't we? A new generation rises to piss off the one who came before, and then they stick around long enough to see a louder, dumber, more entitled, much younger and healthier and better-looking generation rise to piss them off. Maybe Elton John can rewrite his "Circle of Life" song from The Lion King, to play the first time someone from Generation Y bitches about how things were better before Lady Gaga was president. If Elton can cannibalize his catalog for Lady Di, he can certainly sing the passing of the post-Twitter kids.

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    A Final Word From SPIN's Guest Editor Patton Oswalt

    MAY 1994San Rafael, CA Whew! Wasn't that a fun read? Wait, it wasn't? You're mad I left out this as-yet-unfamous sketch group, or those amazing, little-viewed YouTube films, or that struggling-in-obscurity comedian? Wait, there's an unsigned band I'm too clueless to know about and skipped entirely? Great! Get pissed off! See that picture? That was me in 1994. Doing stand-up. Somewhere. Royally sucking. Vest, shirt tucked in over my already-pooching belly. Hair by DoucheGel. There were magazine issues like this one. Rolling Stone and GQ and maybe even SPIN doing "state of funny" issues. I was pissed at who they were focusing on and righteous about me and my friends, all of whom thought we were the cutting edge, being left out. And I know, as I write this, that the next Louis C.K. and The Office and South Park are somewhere out there, struggling to form themselves.

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    Funny Is Deadly Serious: Patton Oswalt Introduces SPIN's New Issue

    There has never been a better time for comedy — for the general feeling of funny — in America than right now. And a big reason for that is how deadly serious everything is.The environment is merrily trying to scrape us off the crust of the planet. Our financial institutions are corrupt, malicious, and in the hands of sociopaths. Our system of government has sputtered to a halt and is grinding metal while the infrastructure rots away. Religion has mutated from quiet faith to mob hysteria. And our attention spans make gnats look like scholars.If you want any say in running things, in being prominent, in being taken seriously, then you'd better make fun of yourself. The next president not only will have to have the best economic plan, but he'll also need to be the funniest in sketches and YouTube videos. No one will respect you until you willingly take yourself down a few dozen pegs.

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