Patton Oswalt, a self-proclaimed film-buff, discussed his new book with Jack Pendervais at Off Square Books last night followed by a stand-up performance at The Lyric.
Oswalt published his second book, Silver Screen Fiend, early this year. Within the pages, Oswalt writes about his life and obsession with films.
Oswalt said his first introduction to the world of film was at age five, when they were shown Nosferatu an event at his local library.
“I just remember how horrifying that situation was, seeing that,” Oswalt said before signing off at Square Books. “And it kind of pulled me into that world, though, terror and titillation I guess… Later on when I started doing stand up and I moved to L.A…. I just started seeing double features every night at the New Beverly. The book covers the summer of ’95 to the summer of ’99 where I was just seeing three movies a day. It was my whole life.”
Chairs of Oswalt’s eager fans and readers filled Off Square Books as Oxford native and fellow writer Jack Pendervais held a hilarious conversation with Oswalt about films, people, and popular culture.
Pendervais and Oswalt played off one another; their shared love of movies was apparent. They won laughter and approval from the audience as the two discussed making art, films, and writing. Their conversation ranged from subjects such as vampire movies to Spiderman and Marvel.
Pendervais said he had never met Oswalt before, but he felt a connection through his work and their shared interests.
“Even though we didn’t know each other, there is kind of a community of people who love old movies and – even if you don’t know the person – right away you have a communal feeling,” Pendervais said. “I read the book and I really liked it, and it just took off from there.”
Oswalt said his favorite films, at the time, include Bad News Bears, Only Angels have Wings, and Camille Claudel. Both Oswalt and Pendervais said Taking of the Pelham 123 (the original version) is on of their top movies. Pendervais said the two even listened to the movie theme before greeting the audience last night at Off Square Books.
Oswalt, however, warned that this list is not concrete.
“Whenever you ask a film buff what his favorite movie is, just know that we have a constantly rotating circle of favorites,” he said, “It depends on the moment that you ask someone.”
After the conversation and an allotted amount of time during which Oswalt greeted his fans and signed copies of Silver Screen Fiend, the crowd began to move down the street to The Lyric, where Oswalt was set to perform that night at 8:15 p.m.
Chairs lined the floor of the venue for Oswalt’s sold-out show. Luke Fields opened for Oswalt, and when it was finally time for his performance, the audience rose to their feet. He performed all-new material, and the audience repeatedly erupted with laughter as his jokes. The show ended with a standing ovation and an encore from the audience.
Oswalt’s love of the arts is something he shares with many people in the town of Oxford, and they certainly made that clear with their support tonight at both Off Square Books and The Lyric.
Bruce Butler, the director of a local comedy troupe, Laff Co. said Oswalt’s visit is great for the small town.
“It shows how connected Oxford is to the arts and the comedic arts especially, so it’s a great thing,” Butler said. “Being a person that does comedy, locally, in Oxford, to have somebody that has a big name come and show that we have a lot of diversity as far as offerings for comedy.”
Oswalt proved to be a man of many disciplines. He acts, writes, performs stand-up, and, as he admitted during his interview with Pendervais, even writes screenplays.
“It’s the freedom that’s my favorite,” Oswalt said. “It’s the freedom. It’s the constant variety. I like being a moving target.”
Oswalt will continue his signing tour through the south into the beginning of next week.
– Zoe McDonald