Patton Oswalt & The King and the Clown

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               I’ve changed the movie so many times for Patton.  Once when I was deliriously sleepy I considered the perfection of comparing him to his favourite film the Princess Bride.  Not quite Korean.  I bought (stole) many stand-up routines that I didn’t already have.  I bought books on tape and I bought and borrowed new and used books during this strange journey.  When Spaceship Zombie Wasteland came out I had to purchase it.  I can’t just read in Borders or Barnes and Noble like so many people.  I like my little library of comedian books.  I don’t fit into one category, though the concept is as brilliant as a sparkling slice of sky cake.  Horror and Science-Fictional writers leave the world (Spaceship), simplify the world (Zombie) or destroy the world (Republicans).

                Gong-gil (Lee Jun-ki) and Jang-sang (Kam Woo-sung) just want to entertain the world.  They’re puppeteers, actors, tightrope walkers and jesters, but there is a problem.  Gong-gil appears more feminine and beautiful than some women and powerful men want to steal him away.  Considering the subject the King and the Clown was a real triumph, breaking the record in Korea for the highest grossing film.  The director Lee Jun-ik (Once Upon A Time In A Battlefield, A Happy Life, Radio Star) shouldn’t be confused with his star.   

              Patton starred in Pixar’s film Ratatouille in 2007 joining Pixar’s voice talent with fellow comedians like Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Tim Allen, Billy Crystal, Eddie Izzard and Daniel Whitney.  He’s been everywhere and done everything though.  He’s been a bridge troll, been to KFC and even released some albums that are incredibly hard for me to find.  I connect with him a lot being an R.E.M. fan.  Fables of the Reconstruction of the Fables of the Reconstruction of the Fables of the (stop me) was an amazing album.  I got into R.E.M. a bit late and I lean toward Lifes Rich Pageant.  I like that as I wrote KOCO (see cover) and read SZW Patton was connecting the Michael Stipe lyrics to his life.  We’re dedicated to what we love.

               Jang-sang has committed a murder to protect Gong-gil from being prostituted.  We’re never quite sure if his feelings go further than that.  The movie (also called the King’s Man) itself walks a tightrope.  The subject matter is not blatant nor is it hinted.  It was enough for China to ban it with Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain though.  Personally I think banning things is gay.  They should knock it off.

               The two clowns end up in Seoul (16th century) getting into trouble satirizing the King.  Soon to be executed they beg for the King to see their show.  No royal laughs and they’ll accept their fate.

               Though Patton has been on primetime shows, his comedy is more aimed at college crowds or at least his own peer group.  His jokes flip back and forth from pop culture to higher brow to geek.  He wowed me with a piece about Anne Frank where he goes into the historic house not knowing he has to pay.  He hides and starts a diary.  I mentioned sky cake before because it’s perfect.  Patton does various pieces about religion, but here he explains the purpose and need of religion and why he likes it, even as a “stone-cold atheist”.  The violent ruled the world, but with some kind of moral code and eternity dessert, humans could create civilization.  I was a little angry because I’ve explained the same concept to friends in the past but  seriously … sky cake.  The title is deserved of a band.  I just joined the Benevolent Church of Sky Cake.  I think I’ve gone too far.

               It isn’t long before the King becomes enamored with Gong-gil.  He has the clown perform for him privately and has the other performers make satires of treasonous acts, resulting in fear and murder.  As more and more truth is revealed no one is safe.

               Is it better to live a blissful life?  Is it better to mask depression with drugs?  Is it best to fall in line?  Some comedians simply entertain.  Some comedians hold up mirrors to themselves, some to society.  Patton has a beautiful moment where he expresses no mourning for the end of the worst President we’ve ever had, as if a good leader would destroy any comic.  Now where will I get material?  I’m reminded of the towers falling.  Will anything be funny again?  I wondered where I should move when people acted like that.

Jang-sang is imprisoned twice and mutilated for his feelings toward Gong-gil.  Gong-gil attempts suicide.  In the end they both find themselves on a tightrope with a speech amidst  the chaos that brings smiles to the audience.  They want to be clowns even in the next life.

               I’ve mentioned the tightrope that some comedians walk with low and high-brow humor.  Meaningful and silly.  Referencing and satire.  Shock and subtly.  Patton puts the others in awe with confidence and depression.  With charisma and geek.  I hope to watch the Princess Bride with him someday.  I have the Buttercup version too.  I think the first book I ever wrote breaks down as Zombie (simplifying), with elements of Spaceship (the role-playing adventures) and then Wasteland (killing the characters off one by one).  What are you?