What do they say about New York City: There are eight million stories, and sometimes it seems as though eight million of the people telling them think they're comedians? No, that's not it. It is a fact, though, that America's biggest city is also its biggest comedy mecca. Hollywood may be Hollywood, but New York City is where comedians are born funny, become funny or arrive to thrust their funny upon us. I think we should meet some of these people. This is a new recurring feature, a mini-profile of newcomers, up-and-comers and overcomers of New York's vibrant comedy scene. It's called Meet Me In New York.
I began Super Bowl week with a profile of an up-and-coming stand-up with ties to Indiana, so why not end the week with a look at someone who grew up in New Orleans. Especially when that somebody is making his network television debut tonight on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon! Who Dat? Who Dat be Sean Patton. After performing in alt rooms around New York City, Sean Patton made a big splash in 2008 as a "New Face" at Montreal's Just For Laughs festival. You can watch the video I shot with Patton in the hotel lounge a few hours after he became a buzzed-about comic by industry types in Montreal. Now he's ready to make an even bigger splash. So let's get to know more about him.
Name: Sean Patton
Arrival date: March 5, 2007
Arrived from: Los Angeles/New Orleans
When and where did you start performing comedy? In New Orleans years and years ago. It was a very DIY scene. We would all do 20 minute sets at bars that had stages that weren't occupied by shitty cover bands or hip hop groups or Zydeco bands or shitty comics. The scene was very small then, maybe 25 comics (ran the gamut from hack to savant) and you got up a max of 6 or 7 times a month IF you were good. The scene is much bigger and better now. There are more comedians and better comedians. There's a comedy theater and a club that is opening this summer. Who Dat?
What was your best credit before moving here? Surviving Hurricane Katrina
Why did you pick NYC over LA or anywhere else? I lived in LA for exactly 10 months and 9 days. LA has a good comedy scene and there are some terrific comedians in LA. I left because I hate the lifestyle in LA. You're in your car 5 hours a day, everything closes at 1:30AM, It's TOO fucking sunny, There's no spontaneity. Like here when you bump into a friend on the train. That bump turns into coffee, that coffee turns into dinner, then drinks, then texts to friends, then dive bars in the East Village, then a rooftop orgy in
Brooklyn. That spontaneity doesn't exist in LA. You'll bump into someone and get as far as making plans to get dinner, but you'll end up canceling because there's construction on the 101 or because their improv group's rehearsal is running long. Plus, I've always wanted to live here. I visited NY back in 2004 and fell in love with it. It's the real city. Every fictional city in every comic book or movie is based on NYC. There is Magic in these streets. I thought "If I'm gonna be a comedian, I want to become one where stand-up became stand-up. I want to be great, so I'm gonna go where the greats became great".
Also, in LA, EVERYONE is trying to be famous. Not artists, just famous. You could die in the ER because the doctor had to take a call from their agent. And it's accepted that everyone is there for that reason. It's okay if a fireman doesn't go into a burning house to save a child because he has an audition the next day for a "Just for Men" commercial. And everyone's an actor. EVERYONE. I don't like people who are JUST actors. If you're a comedian or film maker or musician who's also an actor, that's fine because you still have your craft. Acting is not a craft, it's just a thing. It's pretend. LA is full of people pretending. Yuck.
How long did it take to get your first paid gig in NYC after moving here? Long enough.
How is this scene better/same/worse than the scene you moved from? It's better because the bar has been set so high by its history. Yes, there are a lot of shithole clubs in this city, but there are some good ones too. Broadway, Gotham, The Cellar, and Comix I think are top of the heap. There are a lot of terrible shows as well as great shows. I also love that there are scenes within the scenes. The club scene and the "Alt" or Downtown scene.
Do you already have an "only in New York City" moment yet? I believe the past 3 years of my life have been one long "only in New York" moment.
What tip would you give to any comedian who moves here? Don't be a pussy. Seriously. It's going to be hard. Fuck all the networking and politicing and elbow rubbing, Just get onstage. Let your skill as a comedian do your networking for you.
Where do you see yourself five years from now? Writing and performing and pushing myself to get better. There is always room for improvement in stand up. That's why I love what I do.
Where can you see him? Well, obviously on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon tonight. Patton also co-hosts a weekly show on Thursday nights at Kabin in the East Village, Comedy as a Second Language. Here are a couple of recent clips featuring Sean Patton. The first is from his performance in November at CollegeHumor Live.
And this is a new piece Patton shot for Spike TV:
Which NYC comedian would you like to see me style and profile next for Meet Me In New York? Send your nominations to: thecomicscomic AT gmail DOT com