Patton Oswalt on 'The Breakfast Club' and the art of the script
In the past week, Patton Oswalt has debuted his guest editorship of Spin magazine's funny issue; moderated and participated in panels at New York Comic-Con; promoted the paperback edition of his first book, "Zombie Spaceship Wasteland"; filmed a guest-starring spot on the kids' show "Yo Gabba Gabba"; and live-tweeted the most recent GOP debate. Most mortals would be exhausted, but with the exception of a newly acquired cough, the 42-year-old comedian seems up for more — including Thursday night's live table read of "The Breakfast Club" at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Oswalt will play the iconic nerd part pioneered by Anthony Michael Hall in the 1985 movie. The read, directed by Jason Reitman ("Up in the Air"), is part of Film Independent at LACMA's new programming series.
Where does the boundless energy come from? Patton says his drive is fueled by the revelation early in his career that he craved a creative life. It took just a few office jobs for him to realize that doing time behind a desk wouldn't work for him.
"I would be in these offices and the people, they were nice but they didn’t have a single creative thought. They didn’t have anything startling to say. And they didn’t seem to enjoy life. It was more like, 'I do this job, I get my two weeks, I get my weekends.' Everything was an ordeal to them," he said in an interview to promote his upcoming film "Young Adult" (directed by Reitman), which will debut in December.
"Then when I was hanging out with comedians, they were trying to find a way to rig the system so we could have fun. Acting is just an extension of that. Being creative, it’s a great life."
It makes sense that Oswalt, who has himself written his fair share of screenplays, would be interested in playing in Reitman's experimental sandbox this evening with "The Breakfast Club" reading. He reveres well-written screenplays to the point where he thinks the art of improv is getting in the way of good comedic scripts.
“I did 'Ratatouille' and people asked, 'Oh you must have improved a lot of it. No, it’s a Brad Bird script. I’m going to look good reading the script.' If it’s a good script, why do I need to put my big pizza-oiled fingerprints all over it and mess it up?
"There is too much 'improving' these days, and I think it’s affecting screenwriting, especially the comedies," he added. "People will say, ‘Oh, well this person will just make it funny.' Why don’t you make it funny and give them something to work with? I remember Mike Judge’s script for 'Idiocracy' made me laugh out loud reading it. The act of reading it made me laugh, and that’s a very rare thing these days.”
-- Nicole Sperling
Photo: Patton Oswalt in his Showtime special "Patton Oswalt's Finest Hour." Credit Steven Dewall / Showtime.