Just because Sean Patton has a beard, likes beer and lives in Brooklyn doesn't mean he's a hipster. But his standup, which has an alternative touch that sways from the mainstream comedy flow, gets put under the trendy description. While he doesn't seem to detest the label, he sure as hell has better suggestions.
"I laugh at that sort of thing when you try to label comedians," Patton says. "It's such a ridiculous thing because there's only one label that any true comedian wants and that's 'funny.'"
Patton, a native of New Orleans, began dipping his feet in the bayou of standup in 2001. By 2005, he was feeling comfortable and confident on stage. But his time in the spotlight faced drawbacks when Hurricane Katrina struck.
The storm brought devastation to The Big Easy and left residents, like Patton, in a state of uncertainty. Cleanups, curfews and closed venues put a damper on standup and open-mic nights, twisting a new pathway for Patton's career.
"You really have to move to a major comedy city if you really want to do it for real. That's my opinion," Patton says. "You have to be around other great comedians to become a great comedian yourself.
Patton, who continues to gain momentum on the comedy front, currently resides in Brooklyn, New York after moving from New Orleans in 2006 with a brief stint in Los Angeles, Calif.
He names John Mulaney as one of the comedians who influenced him to keep honing his craft. "He made me realize how much harder I had to work if I wanted to ever be considered a real comedian," says Patton, who also cites live performance as the most transcending force in the world of comedy.
Trading gumbo for gigs, he's currently leaving his mark by continuously mixing things up. Making various appearances on TV and film, Patton is on the road and will make a one-night-only stop in Charlotte at The Comedy Zone on Jan. 12. The show was organized by local comedian Blayr Nias who hopes to spotlight more younger, lesser known acts in the future.
But Patton's face may look familiar. In addition to starring on late night TV shows, he's hosted random TV series' (like Best Bars in America) and been featured on other comedians' shows (like Inside Amy Schumer).
While modestly playing down his appearance on the latter, he plays up Schumer who is enjoying a hotbed of success at the moment. The shoot, which he says was one of the most efficient he's ever done, only took about 45 minutes.
"For most comedians when they've had a nominal level of success they become lazy, apathetic, entitled and brassy, but Amy is the exact opposite. She became stronger and a harder worker and it's really amazing," Patton says. "It's really been a privilege to watch a colleague rise to such levels. And, she's cool as shit."
But not all of his experiences left such a positive impression. Blame it on a hatred for hangovers or too many drinks gone wrong, but Patton says he wouldn't star in Best Bars in America again. The series, which he hosted for two seasons alongside comedian Jay Larson, aired from June of 2014 to June of 2015.
"We got drunk in so many cities on camera and for so many hours. We butchered so many brain cells and probably years of our life, so we're done now," Patton says. "I would never say that I regret it or would take it back. It was great, but I would also never do a show like that again.
Though he clearly likes to drink, he often refers to drugs and situations with paraphernalia as a permanent no-no in his act.
"I think you'd be hard-pressed to find someone else out there who does not smoke weed at all and is 100 percent pro-legalization of marijuana and that's me," Patton says. "I don't smoke weed anymore because I'm just not good at it. Marijuana is an excellent substance it just doesn't vibe well with me and I don't vibe well with it and that's unfortunate."
He compares his dysfunctional doobie induced behavior to alcoholics who blackout, drunk dial ex's and do other idiotic things during the inebriated times. Drug use — or lack of — pops up frequently in his act, leaving Patton as the butt of the joke.
Not that he minds that. Patton, who still seems to be lurking on the underground comedy circuit, doesn't worry about mainstream recognition.
"Comedy is about pointing out the flaws in humanity, so that we can all laugh at it and find our way of coping through humor. When it becomes mainstream you get things like Lip Sync Battle, which I understand a lot of people think is pure genius, but I think it's garbage," Patton says. "I think it's a terrible concept and when people call it comedy, it pisses me off because to me, comedy is humor driven art. You could say the same thing happened to music years ago. When it becomes consumer driven and when you start giving people what they want and not necessarily what they need, the things become mediocre."
Since shining in the spotlight doesn't seem to be a concern for Patton, it's no real surprise that he doesn't list off his 2015 accomplishments when asked. Instead he reflects on a day when he was out for a stroll in Brooklyn. After hearing a lady exclaim "Oh my God!" he watched as she crossed traffic to reach him.
"I looked thinking somebody spilled their coffee or a dog just got run over," he says. "She came running up and said how much she loved my comedy and that she bought my album and that she loved it and that she'd seen me before and really wanted me to know how much she thought of my comedy. I was so overwhelmed by that. I know it sounds like such a small thing but it really is rare. My comedy affected her and that was beautiful."