Sean Patton: Number One. Courtesy of Peacock & 800 Pound Gorilla.

Gorilla Specials: With His New Special, Sean Patton Is ‘Number One’

If you’re lucky enough to be friends with comedians, you’ll find that it can be hard for them to find their space in the scene, even if they know what it should be. If a stand-up is too alternative they might not thrive in clubs, or vice versa, even if they fit perfectly well in both types of venues. For a long time, Sean Patton found himself in this exact space. Emerging in the 2010s as a thoughtful and wild comic who bridged the gap between Ian Karmel and Sam Morril, Patton was viewed as existing between traditional and alternative comedy spheres, and released three albums before landing his special, Number One. It might not be a perfect model, but his success here is a promising blueprint of hope for every middle-class comic putting money together to self-tape their own hour in between sets at littlefield or Dynasty Typewriter. 


One of the first things a viewer might take notice of is the runtime. Patton tends to go long in his work, but it’s not due to a bulk of excess. Rather, he situates himself in context to the stories he tells, and draws focus, pulling the crowd in while standing still or prowling it wildly to accentuate the point of his wit. In Number One, he tells intricately connected stories about New Orleans, love, OCD, and family that coalesce and grow over time, hitting both the funny bone and the soul.

Sean Patton: Number One. Courtesy of Peacock & 800 Pound Gorilla.
Sean Patton: Number One. Courtesy of Peacock & 800 Pound Gorilla.

Sean Patton’s voice is a powerful tool that helps his comedy to sing.

Patton starts with his OCD early on, discussing how it impacts his weed smoking. At this point, we’re introduced to two of Patton’s favorite things to do in jokes: make sly puns (“THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. We all know, stands for tetra hydra can-I-get-an-eighth?”) and use his stentorian voice to heighten the insanity of his condition (Throw shit at that baby. Join the marines. Do it right now!”). Patton is a master of inflating his comedy to amazing heights, but perhaps only because he has been gifted with a voice that can portray intensity and frustration, but not quite rage or hatred. To hear him speak is to hear the sound of anxiety, and it’s one of the tools that makes the special incredibly compelling.

His ability to make use of interesting language helps his jokes to stand out in his special, in a club, or at a small show with twenty people in the audience.

He matches this with a gift for gab, which holds space for three distinctly different abilities. He’s able to conjure interesting phrasing seemingly out of nothing, become emotional and cathartic, and rant in a way that recalls Busta Rhymes or lyrical miracles who can spit bars without taking a breath. A story about being heartbroken at a strip club includes a monologue about a stripper being his soulmate, with Patton looking into the distance wide-eyed. After priming the audience for an extended consideration of his bedwetting later with a silly bit about how he urinates with his hands on his hips (“Like a coach. Like a PE coach. Like a p-e-e- coach. Like a pee coach.”), Patton shares a story about a drunk woman and religious fanatics. The story includes phrases like “bourbon gazelle,” “raptor rose,” and a consideration of sex with Jesus Christ that includes this:


“How do you completely fuck someone? Like you make them cum ten times and steal their identity? Does Jesus even have a credit score? If so, would you even want it? It’s probably not that good. He didn’t come back when  he said he was gonna. It’s probably just average like 6…66, you know?”


In a story about a dad trying to parent his son, the kid’s swaying is described as being “like a video game character whose player temporarily put down the controller” His mother gets “cruising-altitude pissed-off.” Over and over, Patton dips into language that’s both overtly proper and oddly poetic, making it interesting, fresh, and funny.

Patton moves through space deliberately, but his manic energy makes it seem like he’s always in magnetic motion.

Throughout, Patton moves through space wildly, hopping to accentuate a point, miming a slow motion hit to the mouth, faux-stumbling, texting, and chastising an imaginary kid while crouched low, his back turned to the audience, reflection shimmering in the black of a piano. There’s so much thought that goes into each movement, but it’s never showing its seams. As a viewer, you can’t take your eyes off of Patton, who is managing both larger narrative structures and comedy that comes from a crucible of emotional honesty. It’s a tall order to manage, and he does it beautifully.

Patton tackles difficult topics with aplomb, and his gifts make him a true original.

A long chunk focuses on Patton’s OCD, moving from the general topic to OCD versus superstition. He clarifies the difference, and then explains that OCD feels like he borrowed money from God in a past life, didn’t pay it back, and is now doing everything he can to avoid retaliation. Here, he pretends to be God as a mafia boss talking to his angel cappos, saying, “Did Sean Patton remember to microwave absolutely nothing for exactly 33 seconds last night? The fuck you mean no? He’s gotta do that every Tuesday at 11:59pm on the dot. He didn’t do it? Okay, okay. Well then, I guess he don’t like having a cancer-free family then, does he?” He follows it up with a revealing confession that he touches his asshole twice a day, but not while in the shower or “toileteering.” He then takes on the guise of the audience asking him why. He replies that it’s  the wrong question. The right question would be: Sean, why hasn’t there been a successful presidential assassination in your lifetime?”


Patton ends with a long story about Hurricane Katrina that masterfully puts all of his skills on display. After ignoring his dad’s urgency in telling him to pack up and get to the hospital to get his mother, an R.N., and head to hunker down with family, he tells his dad that she couldn’t leave. Days pass, and there’s no word from her. His obvious lie finally makes him feel desperately anxious when the phone rings, and his father hesitates to pick up. Here, Patton stands still, wringing every ounce of emotion possible from the moment as he monologues with sorrow, acts out his father crumbling on the phone, and all but choking-up before making a fart joke. This is the talent and genius of Sean Patton at his finest.

Sean Patton: Number One.
Sean Patton: Number One.

Stream & download Sean Patton's comedy album, Number One, on 800 Pound Gorilla!

US comedy fans: watch the full special Number One on Peacock.

UK & ROW: watch the full special on 800 Pound Gorilla or on YouTube!

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