When Tracy Morgan returned to the stage last year to deliver stand-up following the 2014 automobile accident that left him critically injured, the former star of “30 Rock” and “Saturday Night Live” said it was like riding a bike. “It was completely natural,” Morgan says.
That wasn’t so for Patton Oswalt, who had difficulty returning to stand-up after his wife, Michelle McNamara, passed away in her sleep in April.
“It was really hard to do,” Oswalt says while calling from his Los Angeles home. “It was awkward getting back up there.”
Oswalt, 47, was devastated by the death of his writer wife, who died in her sleep after taking prescription Xanax. The comedian and actor, who has made his mark in such sitcoms as “The King of Queens” and “The Goldbergs” and on dramas like “Justified,” is still feeling the effect of his immense loss. But life must go on for Oswalt and his 7-year-old daughter, Alice.
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“We have to keep going,” Oswalt says. “I’m picking up the pieces and doing what I love, which is stand-up. Everything I do pays the bills so I can do comedy.”
Oswalt’s date Saturday at Memorial Auditorium in Raleigh, is one of his first shows since he resumed working. “Next year there will be many more dates,” Oswalt says. “But for now, I’ll go out there and talk about what is going on in my life, like I always do.”
Expect Oswalt to comment on President-elect Donald Trump.
“I am terrified for what may or may not happen Saturday, January 21st,” Oswalt posted Sunday morning on Facebook, referring to the day after the presidential inauguration. “Be safe, everyone. Take care, comedians.”
Oswalt declined to comment further on Trump in the interview.
“You’ll see what I have to say about Trump when you see me,” Oswalt says. “We’re living in some crazy times.”
One of Oswalt’s current jobs is to help take us back to the ’80s as narrator of the ABC sitcom “The Goldbergs.”
“That’s a very special show,” Oswalt says. “The scripts are amazing and I just love the little scenes in the show. He (creator Adam Goldberg) makes it feel very universal and accessible. I’m a big fan of the cast with Jeff Garlin and Wendy McLendon-Covey. They are great as the parents. ‘The Goldbergs’ is a classic comedy that I’m proud to be part of.”
We can also look forward to a comedy special from Oswalt in 2017. “I’m planning on that, but everything I’m thinking about next year is in a nebulous form,” he says.
The upside for Oswalt, who grew up in Virginia as a big Richard Pryor fan, is that he lives in a very caring community in which musicians and comics are very close.
“I came up with a good group of people,” Oswalt says. “We’re all friends. The great thing about them is that they are so funny. They inspired me to work harder because I was never the funniest guy in my peer group. The good thing about that is that I never stagnated. Being the funniest guy equals death. Fortunately I’m not the funniest, but I work hard to be as funny as I can be.”