Sean Patton got his start in comedy locally, and he may have read the listing for the first open mic at which he performed (at Amberjack's, in Lakeview) in Gambit, he says.
"There were maybe four of us who took it seriously and a bunch of weekend warriors," he says via phone from New York. "If you were any good, you could get onstage maybe seven times a month. I was young and stupid — I didn't know that wasn't enough."
Patton now splits his time between Los Angeles, where he has an apartment, and New York, where he has keys to a friend's apartment, but he's a nonstop advocate for New Orleans.
"Bill Burr just texted me 'New Orleans is the greatest f—king city in the world,'" says Patton, referring to Burr's recent visit for a performance at the Saenger Theatre April 23.
Patton is returning to the city to host The Super Serious Show, a satellite version of the monthly Los Angeles show featuring standup comedy, sketch comedy, videos and more. Patton will be joined by comedians Kyle Kinane, Aparna Nancherla, Drennon Davis and local comedian Duncan Pace and there will be a video by Ryan Perez. Kinane is another comedian Patton has turned on to the Crescent City.
"New Orleans is great," Kinane says over the phone from his Los Angeles home. Asked what he likes to do in the city, the gruff and often politically incorrect comic declines to say anything more than, "Everyone likes to see a guy fall down in the street."
Patton has done his part to highlight that side of the city. In an episode of the Comedy Central webshow This is Not Happening, Patton tells a story about having fun by stirring up trouble on Lundi Gras. He and a friend both had dramatic stage combat training, so they created a bit that they re-enacted on the streets of the French Quarter in which they posed as a gay couple having a loud, outrageous argument that escalates into a fight. They were having rowdy fun until bystanders got involved and events took a couple of surprising turns.
The Super Serious Show promises to be less of a free-for-all. Patton will serve as host, introducing the other comedians and spending a lot of time onstage himself. The Los Angeles versions of the show feature sketch comedy and other bits, but this version will feature the musical comedy of Davis as its dramatic feature. Davis is known for his Imaginary Radio Program performances, in which he assumes characters and incorporates music.
The Super Serious Show was created in Los Angles in 2010. Joel Mandelkorn and Mandee Johnson, who run the comedy production company Cleftclips, book the show. Super Serious has featured a stream of top comedians, and its mix of types of comedy has allowed it to stand out from standup comedy shows. It's also added DJs and food trucks to make the monthly shows into mini events. This show is presented by Funny or Die, which has helped produce Super Serious Shows at Austin's South by Southwest music festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Just for Laughs Chicago and the Maui Comedy Festival.
Patton is a veteran of the show, and both he and Kinane have been regulars on Super Serious, various podcasts and TV shows like @Midnight (Kinane has won the prizeless game show seven times).
"I'll try any type of format," Kinane says. "It's fine to go on podcasts or shows and be yourself as a character. But my bread and butter is still standup."
New Orleans has a much bigger comedy scene than it did when Patton left and it has changed some, but he assures comedians that New Orleans is like plenty of other places.
"Every city is trying to have a Williamsburg or Echo Park or Bywater," Patton says. "In New Orleans, I didn't know what a hipster was. I was like, they're just people we see all over the place. New Orleans has always had dirty artist types. Now it's like, oh, tight pants, glasses, painted fingernails — a hipster. Snake & Jake's — before (Hurricane) Katrina — if you wanted to meet people who live under a rock, find some danger, you go there. Now, there's a velvet rope."
(In one of his bits, Patton mocks the cultural sophistication of Cleveland, Ohio, saying that its citizens identify hipsters by the wearing of "tennis shoes.")
Patton is working on a screenplay, which he describes as sort of a bumbling Bonnie and Clyde story. He also spends half his time touring, and increasingly that includes trips to England and Amsterdam. But he has to return to New Orleans periodically. He maintains a Louisiana drivers license, and his passport lists his home at his parents' address in Slidell.