Patton Oswalt Opens Up About Healing From Wife's Death Through Comedy: It Makes It 'Somehow Manageable'
By Jennifer Drysdale
Patton Oswalt is still recovering from his wife's tragic death in April.
During his appearance on Friday's The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, the 47-year-old comedian revealed that sixth months later, he's found solace in comedy (through his stand-up special) and sharing his grief with others.
"I think it's a way for me to -- when you said it feels contagious, it feels like you've summoned this virus and you’ve become this avatar of loss -- to de-summon it the more you talk openly about what it is and put more light onto it, people can see all the angles and say, 'Oh, okay. That is horrible, but there's life on either side of it and it's somehow manageable,'" he explained.
Oswalt found his wife, crime writer Michelle McNamara, not breathing in their bed on April 21. The coroner's office has still not declared a cause of death, however the actor says he think his wife overdosed on Xanax. She was 46 years old.
"There are these really long messages that I'll get, and you realize the length of the message is them beginning to talk about it and write about it and then it just comes pouring out," he said. "If you don't talk about it, then grief really gets to set up and fortify its position inside of you and begin to immobilize you. But the more you talk, the more you expose it to the air and to the light. Grief doesn't get a chance to organize itself, and then you can maybe move on a little better, a little easier. That's been my experience is these six months."
Oswalt gave his first comedy special since his wife's death on Thursday at the Beacon Theatre as part of the New York Comedy Festival.
"There is no easy way to say this, but six months and 12 days [ago], my wife passed away… by the way, I only ever talk about this in the context of me doing stand-up, me doing jokes," Oswalt said during his set.
"Now I am like, I am a widower, I am a fucking widower, I am every clichéd 80's sitcom, every 80's sitcom was a dude or a couple of dudes and a woman has died -- that is the basis for the half hour comedy is someone's mom and wife has died and now what are going to do? Boop, boop, boop," he joked.
"That hasn't happened. It has been me awake all night watching All The President's Men in my underwear and then my [7-year-old ] daughter, [Alice] comes down and goes, 'You have to take me to school,'" he continued. "My sitcom is sh**ier than the sh**y sitcom because those at least had jokes. My daughter doesn't look at the camera and go, 'No wonder I am in therapy.' There is no laugh track."