Down-home cookin' with Nate Bargatze | Comedy Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Comedy Critic's Choice

Down-home cookin' with Nate Bargatze

The stand-up comic unearths his southern roots and spins yarns about growing up with a professional clown.


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When he's given a second to ramble about Vanderbilt football, it's clear that there's nothing comedian Nate Bargatze loves more—and that steadfast loyalty is a testament to how genuine and down-home he is on a stage. A good ole boy from Old Hickory, Tennessee, Bargatze is refreshingly untouched by the influences of New York and LA, where he's spent recent years doing comedy. He keeps a natural, calm demeanor—and a sweet southern accent—as he lets you in on his life story. It just so happens that his life story has a lot of punch lines.

Bargatze's debut album, Yelled at By a Clown, tells a story with its title. A chunk of the record is spent recalling what it was like growing up with a professional clown for a father ("Do you know how confusing it is to get yelled at by a guy with a smile painted on his face?"), though he's quick to assure the crowd that his dad has a real career now—as a professional magician.

On the topic of marriage Bargatze quips, "I imagine marriage and prison are the two easiest places to fight. Everybody's so tense and unsure of how they got there." And to prove he's giving firsthand accounts and not just relying on a comedic trope, he reads real text-message arguments he's had with his wife of six years. He's so sincerely clueless as he retreads the steps leading from marital bliss to domestic warfare that you can't help but side with him—though it was probably definitely his mistake to drunkenly refuse to come home at 6:30 in the morning.

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