A popular fixture on the stand-up comedy circuit of the late 1990s, actor and writer Patton Oswalt later balanced mainstream acceptance on the popular sitcom "King of Queens" (CBS, 1998-2007) and the Pixar animated film "Ratatouille" (2007) with indie popularity from voice work on countless Adult Swim animated series and the Comedians of Comedy tour - a project which presented alternative-minded comics in a rock club setting. While he continued to routinely perform stand-up and release top-selling albums like "Werewolves and Lollipops" (2007) and "Patton Oswalt: Finest Hour" (2011), Oswalt appeared in a number of feature and television projects, including indie comedy-drama "Big Fan" (2009), Steven Soderbergh's "The Informant!" (2009) and Jason Reitman's "Young Adult" (2011). Throughout all of these experiences, however, Oswalt never lost his unique comic voice - a smart, politically and socially opinionated stream of consciousness - that flitted seamlessly from pop culture references to cutting observations on the social and political scene. Despite sudden tragedy when his wife of 10 years, crime writer Michelle McNamara, died unexpectedly in April 2016, Oswalt continued to work steadily in projects ranging from action comedy "Keeping Up with the Joneses" (2016) and political thriller "The Circle" (2017) as well as co-starring roles on the rebooted "Mystery Science Theater 3000" (Netflix 2017) and the darkly comic crime series "Happy!" (Syfy 2017- ).
Born Jan. 27, 1969 in Portsmouth, VA, Patton Oswalt grew up in a military family, moving frequently during his adolescence. His career in comedy was set in motion by many of the same influences that modern stand-ups would later cite as their own inspirations - the comedy LPs of Richard Pryor, Steve Martin and Jonathan Winters - not to forget the classic Warner Bros. Looney Tune cartoons. Oswalt was also a voracious comic book reader, developing a taste for horror films while in his early teens. Writing and comedy became his goals while in high school - he graduated from Broad Run High School in Ashburn, VA, in 1987 - and he slogged through a series of day jobs to make ends meet, including work as a paralegal and radio disc jockey. The drudgery of these and other jobs helped to cement Oswalt's desire to make a living as a comic.
Oswalt made his stand-up debut in 1989 while still in college at William and Mary, and proceeded to make appearances at any open mike night or small-time club he could find in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. While there, he met and befriended fellow aspiring comic Blaine Capatch, with whom he would collaborate frequently with in the following years. Oswalt graduated from college in 1991 with a degree in English, and after hearing Capatch's stories about the comedy scene in San Francisco, moved there in 1992. There, while honing his own act, he fell in with many of the popular and upcoming comics of the period, including Brian Posehn, Greg Proops, Janeane Garofalo, Dave Attell and Dana Gould. In 1994, he and Capatch moved to Los Angeles to write a series of short comedy films that Comedy Central ran on a program called "Small Doses" (1996-98). He also made his first forays into film and television with bit parts in the Kelsey Grammer comedy "Down Periscope" (1996), as well as on the sitcoms "NewsRadio" (NBC, 1995-99) and "Mr. Show with Bob and David" (HBO, 1995-98).
Oswalt returned to San Francisco in 1995 and began touring nationally with Capatch; that same year, he and his comedy partner were hired to write for "MadTV" (Fox, 1995- 2009), with Oswalt making a brief appearance on the show as well. By 1997, Oswalt's stature on the comedy circuit was substantial enough to warrant his appearance on an episode of HBO's "Comedy Half-Hour" (HBO, 1997- ). After this landmark gig, the up-and-coming comic alternated between stand-up gigs and television appearances for the next few years. In 1998, fellow funnyman Kevin James tapped him to play nerdy sidekick Spence Olchin on "The King of Queens," which quickly blossomed into a popular primetime sitcom. The exposure afforded by a role on a network show boosted his profile, providing Oswalt with more inroads into more substantial film and television work, including supporting roles in Paul Thomas Anderson's "Magnolia" (1999), Milos Forman's "Man on the Moon" (1999), and the Ben Stiller comedy "Zoolander" (2001). He also indulged his love for comics and cartoons by providing voices to numerous animated shows, including "The Fairly OddParents" (Nickelodeon, 2001- ), as well as Comedy Central's rude puppet series, "Crank Yankers" (2002- ).
Oswalt's humor got a bigger showcase in 2004 with the Comedy Central concert film "No Reason to Complain." He released his first comedy album, Feelin' Kinda Patton, that same year; a longer, unedited version of that disc was also released under the title 222. Seeing that the stand-up business was growing increasingly self-serving and unwilling to challenge the status quo, he organized the Comedians of Comedy tour, a national stand-up tour with Brian Posehn, Maria Bamford and Zach Gallifinakis, that played rock clubs instead of comedy spots. The tone of the tour and the comics' material appealed to a younger, more indie-minded crowd, and was documented in a 2005 documentary, "The Comedians of Comedy." A six-episode television series followed, and aired on Comedy Central in 2006, and a comedy CD was released the same year. Though mainstream audiences who knew Oswalt from "King of Queens" were occasionally surprised by his material, which was vigorously critical of both the Bush administration and the thoughtless side of youth culture, peppered with objectionable language (all of which got him booed off stage in Pittsburgh and San Francisco), Oswalt quickly became a favorite among younger, hipper comedy fans. This status was solidified by Entertainment Weekly naming him the "It" comedian of 2002.
When not busy with touring or "The King of Queens," Oswalt filled his hours with countless voiceover roles for animated series ranging from the innocuous Disney cartoon "Kim Possible" (2002-07), as Dr. Dementor, a jealous mad scientist who competes with the show's main villain, Dr. Drakken; to more mature fare like "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" (Cartoon Network, 2000-2015), on which he was billed as "Shecky Chucklestein;" and the controversial video game series "Grand Theft Auto." He also made frequent appearances on "Reno 911!" (Comedy Central, 2003-09) as Boozehammer of Galen, a hapless role-playing enthusiast whose games frequently resulted in injuries to others, which he blamed on magic spells. Oswalt also appeared in the "Reno 911!" feature film, "Reno 911! Miami" (2007) in a different role. Oswalt even managed to find time to write for several comic books, including JLA and Batman, as well as contributing (though uncredited) to the script for the surprise comedy hit, "Borat" (2006).
In 2007, Oswalt released his second comedy CD, Werewolves and Lollipops, on the punk-indie label, Sub Pop. A national tour with Janeane Garofalo followed to promote the CD, as well as the feature film "Ratatouille," in which he starred as a determined rat blessed with innate cooking abilities. Garofalo also contributed a voice to the film, which was directed by Brad Bird of "The Incredibles" (2005) fame, and earned largely positive reviews upon its release in July 2007. Oswalt also had two other features in release that year: the broad comedy "Balls of Fury," about the competitive world of ping-pong, and "All Roads Lead Home," a drama for young adults that also marked the final film appearance of Peter Boyle. After a leading role in the indie comedy "Big Fan" (2009), Oswalt starred opposite Matt Damon and Scott Bakula in Steven Soderbergh's black comedy "The Informant!" (2009). He went on to release his next comedy album, Patton Oswalt: Finest Hour (2011), which hit No. 1 on the Billboard comedy charts, and played a mall Santa in "A Very Harold & Kumar 3-D Christmas" (2011). Oswalt next co-starred opposite Charlize Theron and Patrick Wilson in Jason Reitman's relationship comedy, "Young Adult" (2011), which followed a thirty-something young-adult fiction writer (Theron), as she returns to her hometown to snag the boyfriend that got away. Along with supporting roles in the comedies "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" (2012), "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" (2013) and "Freaks of Nature" (2015), Oswalt appeared in a new comedy special, "Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time" (Comedy Central 2014) and guested on the critically-acclaimed sitcoms "Parks and Recreation" (NBC 2009-2015) and "Brooklyn 9-9" (Fox 2013- ).
A lifelong comics fan, Oswalt appeared in small roles on several episodes of "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD" (ABC 2013- ). Recurring roles on political comedy "Veep" (HBO 2012- ) and animated spy satire "Archer" (FX/FXX 2009- ), as well as a reunion with Maria Bamford on her series "Lady Dynamite" (Netflix 2016- ) were followed by another stand-up special, "Patton Oswalt: Talking for Clapping" (Netflix 2016). Oswalt next co-starred in animated comedy "Nerdland" (2016), indie drama "The Confirmation" (2016), action comedy "Keeping Up with the Joneses" (2016) and social media techno-thriller "The Circle" (2017). In 2017, he debuted on the rebooted "Mystery Science Theater 3000" (Netflix 2017) as Max, the self-described "TV's Son of TV's Frank," a nod to his predecessor in the henchman role, Frank Conniff. That same year, Oswalt joined the cast of dark-humored crime series "Happy!" (Syfy 2017- ) as the voice of a cartoon unicorn who helps an alcoholic private eye find a kidnapped young girl.
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Made his stand-up debut while attending college at William & Mary
Moved to Los Angeles with fellow aspiring comic Blaine Capatch to write a series of short comedy films that ran on a program called "Small Doses" (Comedy Central)
Hired as a writer for Fox's "MadTV" along with comedy partner Capatch
Made feature debut with a bit role opposite Kelsey Grammer in "Down Periscope"
Appeared on "HBO Comedy Half-Hour"
Made series regular debut as Kevin James' sidekick on "The King of Queens" (CBS)
Cast in supporting roles in the ensemble drama "Magnolia" and the biopic "Man on the Moon"
Released debut comedy album <i>Feelin' Kinda Patton</i>
Starred in the Comedy Central concert film "Patton Oswalt: No Reason to Complain"
Made recurring appearance on Comedy Central's "Reno 911!" as 'Boozehammer of Galen,' a hapless role-playing enthusiast
Released second album <i>Werewolves and Lollipops</i>
Starred as Remy in the Pixar film "Ratatouille"
Appeared in Steven Soderbergh-directed "The Informant!"
Starred in the indie drama "Big Fan"
Played a mall Santa in the comedy sequel "A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas"
Co-starred with Charlize Theron and Patrick Wilson in "Young Adult"; film directed by Jason Reitman and written by Diablo Cody
Appeared in "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"
Became the narrator on the series "The Goldbergs"
Appeared as Eric Koenig in Marvel's "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."
Co-starred in horror comedy "Freaks of Nature"
Had a recurring role as Teddy Sykes on HBO's political comedy "Veep"
Voiced Elliot in animated comedy "Nerdland"
Joined the cast of the comedy "The Confirmation"
Voiced Alan Shapiro on adults-only animated series "Archer"
Appeared in "Keeping Up with the Joneses"
Guest-starred on Netflix's horror/comedy series "Santa Clarita Diet"
Appeared on an episode of sci-fi anthology series "Dimension 404"
Co-starred with Tom Hanks and Emma Watson in "The Circle"
Lent his voice to an episode of "Spy Kids: Mission Critical"
Voiced Max in "The Secret Life of Pets 2"