You may know comedian Patton Oswalt from many, many things. He was the voice of Remy the rat in Ratatouille, played Spence on The King of Queens, and is the narrator on The Goldbergs. His guest-starring credits roll deep and include classic shows like Seinfeld, The Simpsons, Two and a Half Men and Modern Family. Oswalt is also the voice of Max, a Jack Russell terrier and protagonist in The Secret Life of Pets 2. He helped finish writing the book I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, about the search for the Golden State Killer. His wife, true crime author Michelle McNamara, died in 2016 before completing it. Oswalt will be performing at The Bushnell in Hartford on July 23.
You are on almost every show on television. What are some of the best experiences you’ve had as a guest star?
Getting to be on shows like Parks and Rec and Veep and Reno 911! where you can really riff and play off of the other actors is always amazing.
Going off script and ad-libbing, improv almost?
We do the script but then we do a couple of fun runs, which are always fascinating to do. But a show like Justified was amazing. It was funny but also intense and violent. The tone-shifting on that one was really fascinating. I’ve been very lucky getting to do some pretty amazing shows.
Do you enjoy doing roasts?
Yeah, I’ve only done two of them though. That’s not something I normally do.
William Shatner and Flavor Flav were the only two?
Those are the only two.
Do you have any stories from either of those? I remember Andy Dick trying to ruin every joke at the Shatner roast.
He was just messed up that night. I don’t know what he was doing. I think he was thinking he was being funny, but I think it went on a little too long. He licked me at one point and I looked down and said, “See you in 10 years, erections.”
How do you handle a situation in which your 10-year-old daughter does something bad that deserves punishment, but it’s legitimately funny or clever?
You say, “Look, that made me laugh. But what you did overall was mean and disruptive, so maybe don’t keep trying to get the laugh if it means that you’re gonna be mean.”
So you’re father first, comedian second on that one?
Yeah, you have to be. C’mon. Also, no kid wants a comedian. They want a dad, they want a mom. Your art should be a function of your life, it shouldn’t be the other way around.