Patton Oswalt: '1% Club' rewards 'different brain chemistry'

Patton Oswalt hosts his first game show with "The 1% Club." Photo courtesy of Prime
1 of 5 | Patton Oswalt hosts his first game show with "The 1% Club." Photo courtesy of Prime

LOS ANGELES, May 21 (UPI) -- Patton Oswalt said his new game show, The 1% Club, premiering Thursday on Prime Video and June 3 on Fox, rewards contestants' thought process rather than factual knowledge.

The game show, based on a U.K. format, asks 100 contestants a series of increasingly difficult questions. Wrong answers get contestants eliminated until the winner answers the final question.


"This is more about how your brain logically puts questions together," Oswalt, 55, told UPI in a recent Zoom interview. "Everyone has different brain chemistry and structures."

Easier questions involve spotting the difference between two pictures. More difficult ones involve mathematical word games.

"The phrasing, the intent, the context, all of those matter in the clues," Oswalt said.

Joking with contestants

The pool of contestants also gives Oswalt 100 people with whom to converse. Oswalt said he is often surprised by quieter contestants he has not spoken to until the last question.


"I haven't interacted with them and they've just been quietly getting it right," Oswalt said. "They're just silently playing the game, silently destroying and we realize oh, you've been a contender this whole time and we didn't even know."

Before the final question, the contestants have a chance to walk away with up to $10,000 split with other contestants who made it that far. But, if they answer the last question, they win $100,000.

"I was actually impressed by how many people had already built up a nice little pile and said, 'I don't care, I'm going for the hundred grand,'" Oswalt said. "That, to me, was constantly surprising and kind of inspiring. "

Oswalt said he enjoyed interacting with the contestants as the game went on. Oswalt said he kept those interactions improvisational, because pre-scripted banter "comes out so stale and so cold."

He said he considered the contestants his audience, like when he performs stand-up comedy.

He said he even made up a song on the spot about one contestant.

"I made it into like a song you would sing about Frodo or Conan," Oswalt said. "There are so many genuinely original personalities you meet."


Trivia and history buff

Oswalt said he can relate to the contestants because he plays along with game shows like Jeopardy! at home, adding that trivia games like that suit his mental process.

"If there's a factoid that will never benefit me in any way, that's going to stay in my head," Oswalt said. "Phone numbers and cooking instructions and stuff that would actually make my life better, those do not stay there ever."

Likewise, Oswalt said he cannot remember his online passwords, either.

"I am a password-free zone in my head," Oswalt said. "Those have to be written down."

With his first game show hosting role, The 1% Club follows another new sort of role in Oswalt's career. He appeared in the historical drama, Manhunt, playing Det. Lafayette Baker in the search for John Wilkes Booth.

Oswalt said it was his dream to do a period piece, but compared its fulfillment to the monkey's paw curse. In this case, his period piece dream punished Oswalt with a heavy costume in a hot and humid environment.

"I ended up down in Savannah [Ga.] in July and August in a really heavy beard and a heavy wool union officer outfit," Oswalt said. "So it's like OK, well, here's your costume drama, you dummy."


Judging M.O.D.O.K. and more "Mystery Science Theater"

Last year, Oswalt also got to see a live-action rendition of his animated character, Marvel's M.O.D.O.K. He voiced the floating head in a Hulu animated series in 2021, but Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania made Cory Stoll a live-action M.O.D.O.K.

"I have a lot of sympathy for Cory Stoll," Oswalt said. "Not only is he doing motion capture of just his face, [but] they're also distorting his face. I don't think he gets enough credit for doing as good a job as he was able to do."

Motion capture records an actor's performance and translates it into a computer-generated character in the film, like the Avatar characters or Planet of the Apes primates. Oswalt said he was actually touched by Stoll's performance in the film.

"He had to do all that acting, probably just sitting against a background while they're filming him," Oswalt said. "I think that's a testament."

In the future, Oswalt has stand-up dates booked through November and a recurring role in the upcoming Netflix series The Abandons. He said he also hopes to get to do another season of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

The third season of the MST3K revival aired in 2022, and creator Joel Hodgson attempted to fund a fourth via Kickstarter last year.


"I just want more riffing over movies," Oswalt said. "That's all I want."

Oswalt is not one of the comedians or puppeteers who comment on movies as they play. He plays one of the evil villains who subject the heroes to bad movies in live-action segments.

"I'm setting up the riffing," Oswalt said. "When I rewatch the shows, I just want to watch all the riffing."

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