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Comedy knows no limits—and neither does Patton Oswalt. His work is honest, and with honesty comes indecency and, in Oswalt’s case, vicious self-deprecation. “My circle of friends has always been funnier than me,” Oswalt jeered with his recognizable croaky chuckle. “It’s just the playfulness and creativity of their comedy that always keeps me going and [...]
Danny Hamen

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Comedy knows no limits—and neither does Patton Oswalt. His work is honest, and with honesty comes indecency and, in Oswalt’s case, vicious self-deprecation.

“My circle of friends has always been funnier than me,” Oswalt jeered with his recognizable croaky chuckle. “It’s just the playfulness and creativity of their comedy that always keeps me going and keeps me focused.”

Oswalt stands at a mere 5’3” and was named after the famous general from WWII, leading a life of living up to almost impossible standards. He carries with him a brooding, hyper-aware persona that you might not expect from a pudgy, middle-aged comic. Although Patton’s father was a marine, the family opted to settle down in the suburbs of Sterling, Virginia, shielding a young Patton from the military lifestyle.

I didn’t have that military brat upbringing,” he said. “I grew up in a featureless, personality-less suburb. There was nothing to push against.”

Oswalt has always been a stand-up comic, first and foremost. Cutting his teeth on small stages led him to a gig as a writer for MADtv, and eventually to his first stand-up special for HBO’s Comedy Half Hour. Oswalt later became a household name for his popular role as the lovable stooge-y sidekick, Spence Olchin, on The King of Queens, and his first starring role as the anthropomorphic rat chef, Remy, in the smash Pixar hit, Ratatouille. Throughout his ascension to the top of the popular comedy scene, standup remained a big part of Oswalt’s arsenal. He returned to this mainstay for his most recent venture, Talking for Clapping, a new stand-up special which debuted on Netflix last April.

As expected, his act is wearily optimistic, like the man himself. It’s a fully realized set of self-effacing wit, broaching subjects like hard drugs, My Little Pony, and even God Himself.

“I think I realized I was [an atheist] when I was studying religion in college,” Oswalt said when asked about his staunch aversion to organized religion. “It wasn’t the contradictions in the religions, but the similarities in different world religions. That’s when I realized that I thought that religion was just a common myth that people made up to deal with the harshness of reality. And if anything, it just made comedy seem that much more beautiful. Like, well if there can be creation and destruction myths in order to deal with life, than maybe jokes are just mini versions of that. And there is something kind of cool about that, you know? You see, I have never been a militant atheist; I have always been a happy atheist. I am happy that other religions exist because it shows the power of storytelling.”

Oswalt is also known for the virality of his strong and often pugilant Twitter presence—picking fights with everybody’s least favorite pharma bro, Martin Shkreli, and putting Trump on blast throughout election night.

Trading funny for fascism isn’t much of a fun trade-off, Oswalt said.

“He’s not going to help anything. I’ll get 10 new minutes of material, and then the world is going to suck for the next four years for a lot of marginalized people.”

Oswalt is a single dad, after tragically losing his wife, true crime writer Michelle McNamara, last April. He admits that becoming a parent has changed his creative outlook on comedy, although it hasn’t softened his jokes. He said that his daughter would probably be ready for his comedy when she is in her teens.

“It isn’t even so much about the language; I am just talking about stuff that I don’t think she really cares about all that much. She would rather watch Teen Titans Go.”

That, or perhaps Ratatouille.

Patton Oswalt will perform at the Palace Theater on February 24.

For more, visit  pattonoswalt.com.

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Arts & Culture

Arts Fest Preview: Kate Morgan, 2D mixed media artist

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Kate Morgan began developing her ghostly, layered two-dimensional portraits after going back to school at the Columbus College of Art & Design in 2005. She already had some background in visual arts through her work in fashion and commercial photography, so the transition to drawing and painting was organic.

Morgan’s textured collages are inspired by folklore, mythology and a variety of artistic periods — especially Byzantine art. The 2011 Columbus Arts Festival Emerging Artist alum and 2019 exhibiting artist welcomes a wide array of complex themes into her pieces — including symbolic, cultural, historical and spiritual themes — while utilizing layers of vintage paper and original drawings to create visual depth and a sense of mystery.

Her pieces are purposely vague, leaning toward more minimalistic ideas to allow for wider interpretation by audiences. Largely her art depicts the female form, with as many layers and stories to tell as that of every human being. This is done with an eclectic assortment of materials — including sheet music, German Biblical pages, newspaper and maps — to add detail in both a topical and textural sense.

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And yet, Morgan still continues to look for a challenge. From venturing away from her familiar blue hues to exploring different mediums like ceramics, her work knows no creative limits.

Morgan has exhibited at the Columbus Arts Festival nearly every year since 2011. She has gone on to win two jurors’ choice awards in the 2D category at the Columbus Arts Festival, as well as sell and have work juried at other major festivals across the country. In Columbus, her work can be seen as part of the Columbus Makes Art and Donatos Pizza collaborative mural “Every Piece Is Important” at the John Glenn Columbus International Airport.

Morgan has a BFA from CCAD and currently works out of her Franklinton studio in Columbus. Experience this stunning work first hand when you visit her at booth M572 on the Main Street Bridge during the Columbus Arts Festival from June 7-9 at the downtown riverfront.

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Arts & Culture

Be Square: Changes coming to arts community at 400 W Rich

Mike Thomas

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If you haven’t visited the thriving arts community at 400 West Rich street in awhile, you might be surprised to see how much things have changed. Now, the minds behind the city’s hub for the arts are changing things up to better reflect the area’s evolution.

400 Square is the new collective moniker for the array of concepts that currently occupy the buildings on the 400 block of Rich street in Franklinton. The rebrand seeks to unify the community of artistic innovators who call the area developed by Urban Smart Growth their creative home.

Promo art for 400 Square by Anthony Damico

Spaces encompassed in the rebrand include Strongwater, The Vanderelli Room, and Chromedge Studios, and of course, the studios at 400 W. Rich. While the name may be changing, the group remains committed to providing and sustaining a thriving hub for creatives through education, resources, and entertainment opportunities in the area.

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With the launch of 400 Square, Urban Smart Growth Director of Operations Seth Stout has led his team to develop new offerings for each of the growing spaces. Food and Beverage Director Lauren Conrath and Events Director Molly Blundred have taken the lead with changes to the Strongwater brand, while Community Director Stephanie McGlone and Art Director AJ Vanderelli are facilitating programming for all ages and abilities on the artist side.

Through all of the changes on the way, the staff at 400 Square are committed to bringing the public the same high quality of workshops, events, exhibitions, and more that have always been part of their unique creative community.

Stay tuned for more info—the new 400 Square officially rolls out during the weekend of Columbus Arts Fest 2019, June 7-9.

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Arts & Culture

Arts Fest Preview: Cousin Simple to wow crowd with energy, passion

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As a young up-and-coming band, Cousin Simple is excited to play at this year’s Columbus Art’s Festival. In their two years as a band, they have already done a lot of really cool things, such as making a single with L.A. multi-platinum music producer David Kershenbaum, playing at Vans Warped Tour at Blossom Music Center, and selling out shows at the A&R Bar, the Basement and The Big Room Bar. But there is much more they want to accomplish including recording more music, making a music video and playing more shows in and out of Columbus.

The band members are all Columbus born and raised. Four members currently attend The Ohio State University, while their drummer Joel is finishing up his junior year at New Albany high School. Cousin Simple brings an energy and passion to the stage and gives everything they have to their performances, regardless of the crowd size. They just released a new single in February called Honeybee, available on iTunes and Spotify and have a single set to release May 10 titled “Star Destroyers.”

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Columbus is a great city for musicians. Whether you’re in the indie, rock, or hip hop scene, there are other musicians and music industry people willing to help you out. Columbus also takes a great sense of pride in its “local gems.” People love to see musicians who are doing well in their hometown and are willing to support them in many ways.

There are so many organizations that have taken this to heart and are helping bands get great opportunities. CD102.5, WCBE 90.5, PromoWest Productions and the Columbus Music Commission have helped Cousin Simple get airtime, shows and support. When it comes to music cities, Columbus may not be the first place that comes to mind, but there are so many bands and musicians doing exciting things it’s making the future bright for them and the Columbus music scene.

But Cousin Simple recognizes that none of this would be possible without the support of their family, friends and FANS that come to each and every show. They are humbled and motivated by their audiences who energize them to make every performance an experience their fans won’t forget. 

Cousin Simple will perform on the Big Local Music Stage on Rich Street on Friday night, June 7 at 7:45 p.m.

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