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Patton Oswalt ’91, D.A. ’23

Stand-Up Comedian, Actor, Director & Author

Major: {{,English}}

Before becoming an award-winning comedian, best-selling author and wide-ranging character actor, Patton Oswalt was an English major at William & Mary. He drew comic strips for the Flat Hat student newspaper, participated in the fencing club and joined Phi Kappa Tua — while spending weekends performing stand-up comedy at gigs in the ’Burg and beyond.

After graduation, he moved to the West Coast to pursue his love of comedy and ultimately discovered passions for acting, directing, writing and narrating. Patton embraces the notion that all of his past characters and selves — the young William & Mary student, Remy from Ratatouille, the best-selling author, Spence from King of Queens, and many of guest roles — are wrapped up in the man he is today. Recent work includes co-starring in A.P. Bio, co-creating the animated show M.O.D.O.K. and voicing the main character, narrating the sitcom The Goldbergs,and starring in his Netflix special Talking for Clapping, which won an Emmy and inspired his Grammy Award-winning album of the same name.

In 2023, Patton received an honorary Doctor of Arts degree from William & Mary and gave the Commencement address. In it, he encouraged graduates to “carve out days of randomness and adventure” and reflected on what he learned during his varied career: “If you just shut off yourself from the world, life is way easier. It’s also way less colorful, way less complicated, way less nourishing and way less memorable.”

Learn more about Patton