Cleveland comic adds an element of improv


Who: Quinn Patterson

When: 9:45 p.m. Friday and

8 p.m. Saturday

Where: The Funny Farm Comedy Club at the Radisson Hotel, 3377 New Castle Road, West Middlesex, Pa.

Tickets: Call 724-528-2501

By John Benson

After nearly a decade in the game, funnyman Quinn Patterson feels as though he’s finally on the move. Not only is the Cleveland native returning to the Youngstown area for shows Friday and Saturday at The Funny Farm, but the 35-year-old comedian finally sees opportunities opening up outside of the Buckeye State.

“Right now, I’m booked with five Funny Bone clubs, so it’s kind of like my trial period,” Patterson said. “In fact, I’m going to Des Moines, Iowa, for dates in a few months. I have to show and prove, but things are starting to open up for me. Like at The Funny Farm, where I was there a few months ago for Valentine’s Day weekend. I was a featured act, and now they’re bringing me back as a headliner.”

Averaging 20 gigs a month, not to mention working part-time at a sporting-goods store, Patterson said he’s evolved over the years to become more of an improvisational comedian. And that’s not by accident. He points to his three-year stint in the now-defunct Second City Cleveland troupe as honing his skills to think on his feet and react to the situation.

What may seem like a natural ability — either you have it or you don’t — Patterson said adding an improvisational element to one’s act can be done. Unlike in athletics where you can’t teach speed, there is a muscle-memory of sorts at work when a comedian is on stage playing within the moment.

“Before I did Second City, I had a scripted act and I always felt like I have to do this or that,” Patterson said. “It almost became robotic to me. I didn’t pay too much attention to my surroundings, too much attention to looking people in the eye, facial contact. Once I joined Second City, it just opened me up and allowed me to be in the moment. That’s the biggest thing, to be in the moment. I can’t predict the future. I can’t change the past. And in that moment, you just have to react. That’s one of the biggest things I learned about comedy — just going into the situations, and you read the crowd. And you just react to whatever is there.

“So it actually keeps me on my toes. I don’t know what situation I’m going to find in each show, so it’s kind of like you’re walking on that tightrope. You never know what’s going to happen, but you just have to deal with the moment at hand. I love it.”

Influenced by the likes of Richard Pryor, Bill Cosby, Martin Lawrence and Jamie Foxx, Patterson, who does his best not to get too political or religious, said he’s committed to keeping it fresh for his audiences. And as far as he’s concerned, there’s little difference between playing Cleveland and Youngstown.

“It’s like Youngs-town may just be a little further a way, but it’s the Midwest,” Patterson said.

“We get it; we like some of the same things.”

He quickly added, “And we all hate LeBron James.”

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