“It’s chaos. Be kind.”
The old cliché “I laughed and I cried” has never been more true. Netflix’s newest comedy special starring Patton Oswalt, Annihilation, has just been released. Oswalt performs a one hour stand-up routine to a sold out audience in Chicago while we Netflix-junkies are graciously allowed to sit in as spectators.
Oswalt has become a staple in the world of comedy over the past decade. Being hired to write for MADtv when he was just 26 years old, he went on to do several comedy specials and series. He’s also broken out into film having voiced Remy in Ratatouille, obtains a re-occuring role on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and has appeared or cameoed in just about every sitcom you can name. Who could forget his infamous Parks and Rec filibuster?
After taking some time off, Oswalt returns to the stage in Annihilation with a noticeably enthusiastic crowd — of which Oswalt is extremely grateful for.
The show begins as most stand-up routines begin these days — attacking Trump. Oswalt has never been shy about his political beliefs, especially on his Twitter account, as holds nothing back in Annihilation. His punchlines are consistently funny — including some great remarks about Trump’s use of the phrase ‘white genocide,’ a recovering alcoholic tossing his chip into the lake on the day of his inauguration and more.
From there Oswalt launches into several more hilarious stories and bits — one about a fight that he once witnessed back in 2000 that personally had this writer rolling from laughter. He also interacts with audience members in the front row, completely making up his humor on the fly.
But the show isn’t just one-liners and gags, and about half-way through the special Oswalt sinks into the heart of the program. “Yes, I’m just killing time because this next section is really hard for me to get into,” says Oswalt.
Some context: In 2016 Oswalt unexpectedly lost his wife, Michelle McNamara — hence the reason for the time off. They went to bed together one night and when he woke up, she had passed away. He describes this as the second worse day of his life — the worst being the following day, when he had to break the news to his seven year old daughter.
Oswalt has been trying to deal with this and the depression that follows since the terrible event. His coping method is comedy. While Oswalt is fighting back tears for the remainder of the special, he delivers his heart-felt content and suffering in the terms of jokes — jokes which, despite the nature of the situation, are still funny.
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) October 18, 2017
How someone is able to take that terrible of a scenario and turn it into comedic genius, I’ll never know. But Oswalt has somehow found a way. He ends the show with a dirty story he’s been working on for the past few years — one that his wife would love hearing — and walks off with a repeated phrase that McNarma use to say to him: “It’s chaos. Be kind.”
Tragedy and comedy can sometimes be seen as two sides of the same coin. When we hit rock-bottom, we often cope with laughter — hence the reason so many comedians address personal issues of alcoholism, drug habits and suicide. Annihilation embodies idea to its fullest. There’s nothing funny about a widowed man and his young daughter trying to cope with a loved one being taken so soon. But Oswalt, trying to put the pieces of his life back together for his daughter, finds comfort from his jokes. The audience, who are along for the whole ride, can then laugh and cry along with him as Patton Oswalt delivers one of the best stand-up routines that I personally have ever seen.
“It’s chaos. Be kind.”