Nate Bargatze takes standup slow
When Nate Bargatze played the Comedy MIX last year, he was a virtual unknown in these parts. The comedy cognoscenti knew of his slow-paced hilarity, but he wasn’t hugely popular by any stretch.
He still isn’t, but thanks to an appearance on the hot podcast WTF With Marc Maron, and Maron’s glowing words about him, he’s now on the radar of a lot more standup fans.
“My name got out there more,” he says on the phone from West Palm Beach, Florida, a stopover on a military tour that has taken him from Greenland to El Salvador, Honduras, and the Bahamas, all before he heads back for toComedy MIX in Vancouver this week. “He has so many listeners, so I guess people just knew my name more. I think it gives you some credit.”
Maron—who can be reluctant to embrace comedic voices that aren’t complete open books and don’t delve into personal demons and neuroses—raved about Bargatze on at least a few episodes. It was the modern-day equivalent of Johnny Carson giving the okay sign to a young comedian.
“That was enormous,” Bargatze says. “He’s been so nice to me. That could be the most helpful thing I’ve had in comedy. All the other stuff is kinda great, but to really get vouched for is a big deal.”
The 33-year-old Nashville native’s act couldn’t be further from the soul-baring Maron’s. Everything from his relaxed pace to his choice of material is a result of his upbringing.
“Growing up in the South, we have a slower pace,” he says. “I just naturally talk slower. Even when I think I’m talking fast, no one ever goes, ‘Man, you were flying!’”
You won’t hear him reaching too deep into his psyche on-stage to uncomfortable titters, either, or opining on issues of the day to like-minded bobbleheads. His goal in comedy is simple: keep the laughs coming.
“Too many comics are concerned with saying something,” he says. “Who cares? How about just being funny?”
And one thing listeners often don’t even notice until it’s brought up is that he works completely clean. He admits to cursing off-stage, but never on and never in front of his parents. Growing up in a conservative Christian home will do that to you.
“I watched clean comedy growing up, and my dad’s clean, so it’s just what I grew up around,” he says. “I don’t really come up with dirty stuff.”
His dad, Stephen Bargatze, is one of the top funny magicians in the world and Nate couldn’t be prouder. “My dad is really good,” he says. “If magic was bigger than it is, where you get famous, he would be very famous.”
There was never any pressure to follow in his father’s footsteps. Any kind of honest work would please Pater. “He never pushed us in any way,” he says. “Whatever we were doing, he just wanted us to be a normal person, not some lunatic.”
But there was some invaluable practical show-biz advice he passed along: “He told me to do standup instead of magic because he has to carry around so much stuff everywhere he travels. If we’re ever together, I’m just walking around with nothing and he has suitcases of magic tricks.”
The rest he’s learned on his own. Such as: don’t bring up conservative Christianity on-stage. “Especially in New York,” he says of his current residence, where he’s honed his chops. “You say that kind of stuff and people think you’re an animal.”
Nate Bargatze plays the Comedy MIX from tonight to Saturday (November 29 to December 1).