“Actually, I think when you’re younger, anger and comedy mesh together very, very well,” Oswalt answers, “because there are things that you feel like, ‘Am I the only person seeing this?’ But then, as you get older, I don’t think anger and comedy mesh at all. I remember Chris Rock telling me, ‘Don’t get mad, get funnier.’ Getting mad doesn’t help you as a comedian. Anger eventually cancels out comedy. I think what you have to do is find the things that delight you, and if you really push the things that delight you, then the things or people that piss you off, it just makes them angry. If people you don’t like or people that you disagree with, if they see you on stage pissed off and angry, that’s actually kind of reassuring. Because they’re like, ‘I’m getting to that guy.’ But if you’re on stage, and instead of cursing what you hate, you’re celebrating the alternative and making that seem better, that’s what drives your enemies bugfuck. That’s what just drives them into the red.”
“Pointing out that stuff sucks is not edgy or dangerous anymore,” he says. “Everyone knows what sucks. What’s better is to find the stuff that’s amazing and hold it up. Even something like the KFC bowl, in a weird way, I love it. I love that we’ve gotten to the point where [there’s] an actual manifestation of the problem and we actually have it in bowl form. Before, it was scattered amongst 50 different fast-food chains, and it was so hard to make your argument. People would go, ‘Yeah, but there’s salads, and…’ Now I’m just like, ‘Here is the top-selling fast food item.’ Thank you, KFC!”
“[The KFC Famous Bowl bit] was also from sheer exasperation,” he says. “Like, finally, what I’ve been talking about all along about what is wrong with us. And also, ultimately, what’s wrong with me, you know? I need to lose weight because I eat a lot of crappy food. I think the best anger is the stuff that you are pointing at yourself, rather than, ‘Everything sucks and I’m here to point out why.’“
Here's another example: Oswalt on the wonder of Cheetos from a 2004 bootleg.
So I get that anger directed at yourself is great fodder for standup (like CK's making fun of himself in "Everything's amazing, nobody's happy").
But I'm surprised to read someone argue that being angry/mad is bad for comedy. Especially someone who has done great bits shitting all over George Lucas, his hometown, people who celebrate birthdays, those who advocate natural births, George Bush, etc. Even his "Big Fan" director Rob Siegel called Oswalt's comedy "hateful, misanthropic, and dark" in an interview (he meant it in a good way).
In general, it feels like people talking about what they love just isn't as funny as people talking about what they hate. Maybe more pleasant and positive energy and all that, but not as funny.
I've heard it said before that every joke has a target — there's someone or something being made fun of. And I often notice how true that is. Tough to reconcile that idea with this love business.
As for "find the stuff that’s amazing and hold it up"...is the KFC Bowl really something Oswalt loves? Seems like more of a love/hate thing. Maybe that's the sweet spot, something you love but also hate at the same time. Keeps the passion in there but ya also get the mockery that gives it a juicy twist.
Any other examples out there of funny bits that discuss something the comic really loves?
Anyway, always fun to listen to Patton talk about standup. He's one of the most eloquent out there when it comes to discussing the craft. Check out this "Comedy And Everything Else" interview with him if ya haven't already.