Pat Barker is a Philly area native who we lost last year to the clutches of Los Angeles. As happens all too often to our best comedians, Pat suffered a flash of self-awareness in which he realized just how funny he is. And though I’ll bet he’s too classy to admit it outright, he knew–probably for just a moment before relapsing into every comedian’s professional-grade self-loathing–that he’s every bit as funny as the average professional touring comedian.
This may not sound like a blurb-worthy compliment, but you have to realize just how funny and regularly killing-it a comedian needs be in order to really work. Pat performed in Philly for a handful of years; I’ve seen him maybe a half dozen times. Whether it be a coveted hosting gig at Helium, upstairs in the attic of Fergie’s pub at The Ministry of Secret Jokes, or a dude’s 40th birthday party-show at Connie’s Ric-Rac… Pat never phoned it in. He always completely and totally destroys.
WitOut: Is there anything unique about doing comedy in Philly, as opposed to your new home on the west coast?
Pat Barker: As far as the actual performing, it’s similar. Crowds are a little more sensitive out here, but not insanely so. The biggest difference is really in the approach you have to take to move up the proverbial ladder. In Philly, it’s really simple. There’s one main club, you do open mics and contests there, you get better, you get asked to work there, and that’s it. It’s a well-defined meritocracy. Out here, it’s a little bit different. I was naive at first and thought that it worked the same way and I could just show up and start doing mics and just do the #comedygrind or whatever the fuck and it’s just not the way it works. I’ve had to refine my approach a little bit.
WitOut: Do you think you’ll be staying in L.A.?
Barker: Life is really good for me right now. I love California a whole lot and I don’t have any plans on leaving any time soon. Not to say it won’t happen at some point, but I’m definitely going to be out here for the near future. There are still a LOT of taco trucks that I haven’t hit yet. My work here isn’t even close to done.
WitOut: What’s the fanciest gig you’ve ever humble-bragged?
Barker: The most impressive logistically was probably the time I opened for Frank Caliendo at the Borgata Music Box, just because it was a 1,000 seat theater. I was only like two years into comedy at that point and stumbled across the gig, and I really wish that I had gotten it a few years later when I was better and could have really crushed. I never include that part in the humble-brag though, I just say it was a 3,000 seat theater and move on.
WitOut: What types of stuff is fueling your post-pharmacy joke-writing? How’s the writing process been in general?
Barker: The writing process has actually been easier post-pharmacy. When I worked for CVS, I went out of my way to not write jokes about it. The job made me so miserable that I couldn’t see any humor in it, and I had trouble turning it into a good bit on stage. Now I have a day job that I love at some warehouse that nobody’s ever heard of, and I get to have more bullshitting conversations with people my own age. That leads to better ideas for bits, or at least it’s seemed that way so far.
WitOut: What are you going to name the CD? Can WitOut hold a contest to name it?
Barker: The CD is going to be called “Nice Jokes”, which is a reference to one of my more popular bits. You can hold a contest to decide who I thank in the liner credits. Please avoid Satan, Hitler, and the New York Mets. Other than that, go nuts. [Submit your credit to our contest on Twitter with #BarkerCDthanks. The winner will be selected on Tuesday 6/24]
WitOut: Why do you perform comedy? Do you love it? Why or why not?
Barker: I originally got into comedy to meet girls. Now that I have one and I keep doing it, I figure there must be something else I like about it. I like making people laugh, I guess. Simple answer, but true. As far as loving it, I’ll say this – I love every second I’m on stage. I don’t love all the other shit that goes along with comedy. I don’t love sitting around at mics or sending e-mails to bookers or feeling obligated to keep up a funny social media presence at all times. I hate that shit. But it’s worth doing so that I can keep doing what I love on stage.
WitOut: Who is the funniest Philly comedian who is also not a scene favorite? (I.E. a non helium-regular etc.)
Barker: I forgot literally everyone in Philly the second I moved. Next question. (The answer here is actually Carl Boccuti. He performs comedy like three times a year and is amazing at it.)
WitOut: Why do you hate pharmacies so much?
Barker: I don’t hate all of them, just CVS, where I used to work. I hate them because they spent years making me miserable. Being a store manager there is pretty much the worst thing in the whole world. Just take my word for it. I didn’t even realize how brutal it was until I got an amazing job. I had no idea happiness at work was even a thing. It’s pretty great.
WitOut: How is it going keeping the weight off?
Barker: Shockingly well. I lost 130 pounds initially, gained 30 back after ACL surgery last year, and now I’ve re-lost 20 of that in the last few months. It’s a lot easier to be active out here since it was like 70 degrees every day in December. Hiking is the shit, by the way. Mountains are really cool. You guys should look in to getting some in Philly.
WitOut: You have a prolific cache of throw-back Thursday photos. Could I feature them on the website? What was it like growing up such an unfathomable winner?
Barker: Yes you can feature them. Looking back on my #tbt pictures makes me understand why I felt the need to get into entertainment to pick up girls. It was a rough 20+ years. Thank God things turned out okay.
WitOut: If you were to open your own comedy club, what would it be like? And what would it be called?
Barker: It would be like every successful comedy club – low ceilings, all seats facing the stage, long seating instead of deep seating, funny shows at 90 minutes apiece, national headliners. And it would be called Laff House 2: Electric Boogaloo.
WitOut: Who’s your favorite comedian?
Barker: It’s a tie between Bill Burr and Oakland Seligson.
Pat’s CD taping will be on Tuesday June 24th at 8:00pm. Tickets are $10.00, get ’em now. Don’t forget to submit a really absurd liner-credit with #BarkerCDthanks. Pat’s a man of his word, let’s take advantage of him!