As with many veteran comics, the career path of Patton Oswalt veers across the pop-culture map, alternating between acting in feature films and television series, lending his distinctive voice to animated works, and authoring his own books of witty insights. On the horizon for 2017 alone, Oswalt has roles in the big-budget movie adaptation of Dave Eggers’ The Circle; the latest animated feature from DreamWorks, The Boss Baby; and the hotly anticipated revival of cult favorite TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000. From a professional standpoint, Oswalt’s accomplishments would be the envy of any comic. Such success, however, pales in comparison to the enormous personal tragedy Oswalt suffered last year with the death of his wife of 11 years, writer Michelle McNamara. In the aftermath of such a heartbreaking loss, it’s reassuring to find Oswalt maintaining his standup career. Though his material is often rife with pop-culture fixations, the galvanizing core is the comic’s self-deprecating admissions. Oswalt’s ability to turn introspective anxieties into convulsively funny material is in fine form on his recently released standup special, Talking for Clapping. The Emmy-winning special also showcases Oswalt’s less noted but equally incisive ability to satirize the more polarizing aspects of our current cultural landscape. Even when taking on topical issues, however, Oswalt’s humor remains infused with his signature blend of restless intellect and confessional candor, allowing for comedy that can be downright cathartic.