Comedian Patton Oswalt: ‘Battle Over Wokeness, It’s Nothing New’

The comedian, who started performing stand-up in the 1980s, says he is unsurprised by ‘woke’ culture.

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Comedian Patton Oswalt, who started performing stand-up in the 1980s, says he is unsurprised by “woke” culture.

Patton Oswalt, a generally uncontroversial comedian, unwittingly fell into the crosshairs of critics over his friendship with Dave Chappelle. He told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview published Tuesday that he witnessed the “woke” cultural trend multiple times before.

“This happened in the ’80s, it happened in the ’90s and it’ll happen again in another form,” he said.

Patton Oswalt: It’s All About Context

The King of Queens actor and voice of Remy in Ratatouille said comedians often get in hot water because the media and social media take their material out of context. 

“I think that comedians deserve context in what they say,” Patton Oswalt said. “You shouldn’t just ‘cancel’ out of context.”

However, he added: “but I also think comedians have a responsibility to evolve and to try to push things forward. And pushing the envelope doesn’t mean digging your feet in while the envelope moves forward — you should be ahead of that envelope, that’s how you should be pushing it.”

Patton Oswalt revealed that he touches on the issue in his new special, We All Scream. It’s due for release on Netflix on September 20.

“I do a joke about in the future, what am I going to be canceled for?” said the Grammy Award-winning, Emmy-Award-winning comedian. “And you don’t know, but you want to at least try to keep progressing.”

A look through Patton Oswalt’s lengthy career demonstrates his point. In past comedy specials that stretch back to his HBO Comedy Half-Hour in 1997, he uses derogatory terms that are now considered off-limits.

Oswalt articulated his difficulty keeping up with “acceptable” cultural semantics in his 2016 special, Talking for Clapping.

“If you get hung up on words, you’re going to let a lot of evil [people] get through,” he said. “The good guys f— up a lot of their words but — eh, look at their heart.”

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