Patton Oswalt on Depression

“I want blues and pinks, I just want to avoid the blacks and reds. Because the red is when you’re manic and you’re burning everything up, the black is when you want to kill yourself. I don’t mind blues, I don’t mind pinks.”

Patton Oswalt


This episode went on the “listen to this yearly” list immediately. Excellent conversation. Some more quotes below.


“My depression and my ego are two things that I treat equally, just like this, where I go, ‘{gentle parent voice} Oh, here you go, what do you want now? Alright, ok, I’m not gonna give you that, but we’ll do this, how about that? Is that reasonable?” George Saunders said when you deny a fault in yourself you’ve made it ten times more powerful. AND now you have two faults: the fault you had and the lie you’re telling yourself about it.”


Advice for new comedians:

“I hope that you are given two gifts. First, I hope you have a few years of obscurity, where you get to go up and it doesn’t matter if you bomb or kill, cuz you get to develop a purely unique voice. And second, I hope you have one night of just absolute flame out disaster on stage so you can have that experience, wake up the next day and realize ‘Oh, the world didn’t end,’ and you lose that fear.

And there’s another piece of advice Andy Kindler gave me that I tell to every young comedian… Never ever ask another comedian to watch your act or give you advice because even if they give you great advice, and they have the best intentions, all it will do is make you more like them and make you less unique. Figure out on your own, even if you go down the worst side paths… you’re gonna feel like you’re wasting your time but you’re actually not. The wasted time doing something stupid is gonna pay off huge dividends later. ‘Holy shit, I went down some of the darkest fucking paths and I’m glad I did, cuz I know what it feels like to get easy, cheap laughs, and I know that that feeling is actually bad in the long run, so I go for the better stuff.'”


Patton’s advice to Joe Derosa:

“We were backstage at Caroline’s and it was at the time when all those celeb love shows were out. And I said, ‘Patton, i’m working on this bit: if you’re a person who wants to be on one of these celeb love shows, your heart’s gonna burst, yadda yadda,’ and it went on from there. And I said, ‘Patton, is this premise too much like a Bill Hicks joke?’ and he said, ‘I don’t think it’s too much like a Bill Hicks joke, but I don’t know why you’d want to do it. All you’re doing is going on stage and talking about something you already know you agree with. Where’s the exploration in that? What I try to do in every joke is I try to have the moment of discovery. So, how I would do that joke is I would say, I used to hate shows like Rock of Love and Flavor of Love because they just parade these whores around, THEN i realized, these shows are great because they teach us who we need to quarantine (or whatever).’ And I was, like, ‘Holy shit, that’s a hundred times better than the joke I was trying to write.’ Always look for the moment of discovery in the joke. Don’t just go linearly down the path, try to find the path where ‘well I thought this, but now I think this and then that led me to this, bla bla bla.'”


“You really can’t make fun of something unless you love it. Making fun of something you hate, it’s very limited, like, ‘I hate it, it’s stupid, here’s why.’ But you’re like, this thing… I kind of like it, and here’s why.”