A former comedian turned counselor JC Shakespeare uploaded a video to YouTube this weekend. In it, he and three other performers — including a 19-year-old Patton Oswalt — do stand-up as part of an infomercial on student loans in 1990. Shakespeare says, “This was my first paid gig as an actor, and perhaps it was for Patton as well. Patton had the tenacity and persistence to work his butt off (I didn’t), and I have immense respect for how far his talent and hard work have taken him.”
Oswalt quickly confirmed what we could already tell: it was him. In a snazzy sweater vest, no less. He adds that it was his first acting gig, for which he was paid $300.
Adjusting for inflation, that’s $535 today. You can decide for yourself if the humiliation was worth it in this video in which the squeaky-voiced Allister McAllister (really?) of the One Liner Diner (ugh) introduces Patton Oswalt as “Patent Oswald”. Oh, the humanity.
A few glimpses of the Oswalt we know and love come when he mentions “spreadable broccoli” and lapses into his demon voice. Oswalt’s parts are at 0:30 to 1:30, 5:40 to 6:30, and one line at 9:00. We don’t recommend the rest. Nothing personal, other comedians.
The other comedians are Catherine Shaffner and JC Shakespeare. Shakespeare is a counselor in Austin, while Shaffner has acted in film and stage productions, but what’s the deal with Allister McAllister? Was that a stage name that disappeared before the rise of Google? [The Comic’s Comic]
We don’t blame McAllister for using a fake name and ditching it. We’d have done the same for a gig like this. It stands as a time capsule of ’90s fashion and as a painful reminder that nearly all comedians spend their first seven years learning how to not suck.