Sean Patton promises he won't be rusty when he arrives in the Twin Cities for his shows at the Acme Comedy Co. He's recently had to take time off to co-host, with fellow comic Jay Larson, a new show on the Esquire Network called The Best Bars in America.
"We just traveled around the country going to bars and filming at them," Patton explains. "Getting drunk on camera, basically."
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[jump] He's still a little puzzled over how he was chosen to be one of the hosts. "I mean, Jay's got his act together," Patton says. "He's got a wife and kid, and is very well dressed naturally. And then you've got me. I'm thinking, 'They want me to host a show on the Esquire Network? Thanks, but you see me, right?' I'm not like the most Esquire of gents. I guess they're branching out to pudgy guys in beards."
After wrapping the last episode, Patton immediately headed back home to New York City to do standup. While he did do a couple of festivals during the seven weeks of shooting, like Moontower in Austin and Bridgetown in Portland, he felt he needed to sharpen his skills a bit.
"I haven't been able to really focus on standup as much as I'd like to. Some comedians -- and I really envy them in a way -- can walk away from it for a while and focus on something else, then come right back and pick up right where they left off." He adds: "I feel I've gotten little rusty in the past couple of weeks, but you know just last night I got back into New York and I did some sets. By the time I get to Acme, I'll be at full speed."
Patton moved to New York from New Orleans, before the Big Easy had a viable comedy scene. "New Orleans is such an entertaining city, with the music and the food," he says. He and Larson ended up there filming an episode of their show. "Jay had never been to New Orleans, and he was like, 'How are we even in the United States? I feel like we're in another time and in Europe.' It's a beautiful city, and it has that Southern charm. You really don't have to do anything, you can just walk around and have drinks, go to cafes and restaurants, and you're entertained."
Since Patton relocated to New York, the comedy scene back home has really taken off. "There are shows every night and there's a theater that's dedicated to just standup, sketch, and improv," he reports. "There's so much going on in New Orleans, now that Hollywood has set up satellite operations there. There are so many movies and TV shows that shoot there." Once the crews clock out for the day, they head out to, among other places, the local comedy clubs.
"There's also a huge university population there, and schools like the University of New Orleans, Tulane, and Loyola that aren't really sports-centric," he notes. "There are a lot of liberal-arts majors, so the kids there are like, 'Yeah, comedy shows.' It's now a destination city for comedy. It's a beautiful thing to see."
Onstage, Patton is loosening up a bit. "For years I'd go up onstage with a definite set list," he says. "I knew exactly what I was going to say. It was very scripted. And I still think that's what I should do onstage -- at least have a map. But lately I've been feeling like I want to challenge myself, because I feel audiences enjoy a set more when the comedian enjoys the set. The more fun I'm having, the more fun they're going to have."
This new direction grew out of doing several shows in one city, as most headliners do. "You're doing two shows a night, six for the week, and I started thinking, 'Well what about the staff, or people that have seen me before?' I don't want them to have to listen to the same thing over and over again. I just want to go onstage and be in the room." That being said, Patton insists it's not going to be completely freewheeling. "I'm not going to be the guy that gets onstage and starts riffing, keeps going, and blames it on the audience if they don't get it," he laughs. "My job is to make people laugh and, if I can, maybe change their minds a little bit."
IF YOU GO:
Acme Comedy Co.
708 N. First St., Minneapolis
8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
For tickets, call 612-338-6393 or visit www.acmecomedycompany.com.