Patton Oswalt’s favorite pop culture of 2012, from The Queen Of Versailles to Sklarbro Country

Patton Oswalt’s favorite pop culture of 2012, from The Queen Of Versailles to Sklarbro Country



While
The A.V. Club staff gets to weigh in about what movies, TV, music, and more we liked this year, we’d be fools to think that anyone really cares what we think. After all, we’re not famous. That’s why we asked a bunch of our favorite actors, musicians, podcasters, comedians, actors, and showrunners what they liked the most this year. We’ll be posting a different batch of answers every Tuesday and Thursday for the rest of the month, but Patton Oswalt put so much time and work into his answers that we thought they deserved their own entry.

What’s the best thing you listened to in 2012? 
The best thing I listened to was a tie, and they were both podcasts. A lot of amazing music came out this year—The Coup’s Sorry To Bother You, Metric’s Synthetica, etc.—but I rewound and lost myself in podcasts the way I used to settle into albums. Rawness and captivation came from simply recorded human voices this year. No bass, no drums. Either I’m getting older or starting over.

The first was on episode 119 of Sklarbro Country (“Denying The Magic”), beginning at the 5:22 mark. Randy and Jason Sklar—two of the most positive, good-hearted, and grounded adults I’ve ever met—struggle to get through the reading of a listener letter. They’re relating the simple story of the mascot for the Buffalo Sabres—“Sabretooth”—who was performing his usual, crowd-pleasing audience bit where he grabs a small child, pretends to run off with him, and is stopped when a college student assistant struggles with him and begs him not to run off with the child. Wheeee, right?

Except in this case, the mascot—whose mask’s eyeholes narrowed his peripheral vision— grabbed a 38-year-old little person and tried to run off.

The sheer awfulness of the situation—the embarrassment, humiliation, and just overall no-recovering-from-this-fuckup reality—is given an extra level of hilarity by Randy and Jason, reading the letter while choking through self-loathing laughter. They truly do not want to laugh at this situation, but sometimes reality is so offensive and scrubbed of dignity that there’s no other response. I must’ve listened to it 20 times.

The second is episode 130 of Walking The Room (“Fire Monkey And Always Jim”) at the 32:35 mark, when an off-handed conversation that leads to a passing reference to the sitcom According To Jim becomes a sobering yet still side-splitting reminder that oblivion lurks everywhere. Because—and keep in mind not once during the following four minutes do they ever badmouth the show—neither of them can remember the show’s name. Eight years on network television, and two men who are neck-deep in the comedy world sincerely can’t summon the name of the sitcom. Even they seem to get nervous at one point—success can mean financial security, but fame can fade like a phantom.

What’s the best movie you saw in 2012?
Hands down, The Queen Of Versailles. I could have watched 18 hours of these horrible, empty, vapid people struggling toward a semblance of humanity. If you want to see the soul of 21st-century America liquefied and then poured into cracked molds that fail to hold the few dribs of gold trapped in the cheap pig metal that was smelted through years of neglect, selfishness, and fear, look no further. Werner Herzog never saw horror in a jungle the way I experienced it through this documentary’s Walmart shopping-spree sequence. Ghastly. Gorgeous.

What’s the best TV show you watched in 2012?
Another tie. 

Parks And Recreation, “Halloween Surprise.” One of the best half-hours of scripted television I saw this year—and this was a year where we had Louie and Girls. But to have a wedding proposal come as an actual, heart-tugging, genuine surprise at the end of an episode just shows you how solid Greg Daniels and Michael Schur’s writing is. Packed with hilarious, human moments for every cast member, you’re so wrapped up in the perfectly rendered world of Pawnee that Adam Scott’s awkward proposal—and Amy Poehler’s even more awkward, adorable response—made me so happy. Happy that TV could still be this good.

Key & Peele, season two, episode seven. Key and Peele have done too many brilliant sketches to list here, but the “LMFAO Can’t Stop Partying” sketch is something else. Anything that’s so funny that it actually becomes scary—like, genuine, existential horror-movie stuff—puts these guys on the Next Great Sketch Show map. The party don’t stop. It never stops. It. Never. Stops. Sartre would be proud.