In late April, the comedy show I co-produce, “All that Good Stuff,” had a stacked line up of hilarious Chicago comedians for a sold out show at The Elm restaurant in LaGrange, my hometown. Considering I chose the comics that would perform and knew the majority of the audience, I was confident the show would be a huge success.
What I didn’t expect was for Pat McGann to show up and perform 20 minutes of new material based around his life at home during the pandemic. To no one’s surprise, Pat crushed it. Shortly after our show at The Elm, I was lucky enough to talk to Pat and hear his personal stand-up journey, how he balances his life on the road and his advice to new comics.
Pat’s first comedy special, “When's Mom Gonna Be Home?” was released in July of 2020 and was shot right here at The VIC Theater in Lakeview. It was produced by fellow Chicagoan and comedian Sebastian Mansicalco. Prior to the pandemic, Pat had been opening for Maniscalo all over the country from Madison Square Garden to the United Center and everywhere in between.
When did you start comedy?
In September of 2007, I was 31. I scouted out some spots that felt most like a club and found the Chicago Performing Arts Center. Dave Odd was the host and I was close to the end of the list to go up on stage. I brought my sister and Sara (McGann’s then girlfriend, now wife). I wanted to leave, I was really nervous. I forgot some of my material and was thrown off by not being able to see the audience and the bright light.
What inspired you to be a comedian?
I always was writing stuff but never on stage, but Sara was encouraging.
Your wife, Sara, is really funny—has she ever wanted to try it?
She is very funny! She'll make comments, but I don’t think she’d ever want to do it.
You talk a lot about your kids during special, hence the name... did you always know you’d be a dad or wanted to be one?
Yeah, I think so. I think I just assumed I’d have a family one day without giving a whole lot of thought to it, which is crazy because I now realize what it’s all about.
How much material is based on your kids?
A significant amount. I try to base it on my life. I don’t have any friends anymore; I got no buddies. It’s not even intentional—it’s about what is going on in my life and how I can make it funny.
How do you balance life on the road with your family?
By the time I realized I was a dad, I had three kids and I just kind of woke up. After being at home for the past year, I am struggling with going back out there. I now know what I’ll be missing and my kids are so aware. I think it's going to be a big adjustment. I am also so excited about it and I appreciate the live shows so much more now—being on that Sebastian ride and performing in big theaters and arenas. I wasn't taking it for granted, but it happened really fast and I want to be able to appreciate that more—the day to day.
What is your favorite thing about comedy?
Connecting with people and laughing together. I think when you get that validation it’s so reassuring—people are seeing things your way and it’s nice to connect on that level.
Everyone who has done standup knows what it is like to have a rough night. Do you have any tips for comics who bomb and want to quit?
If you’re feeling that way constantly, maybe it’s not your thing. You have to have those nights and bomb and eat it. It’s good to have those humbling experiences because you work harder, focus on it more and self-critique. But if people want to quit, they should quit. Give up your dreams, get out of my way.