Local comedian aiming to turn his hobby into a career
Before Patrick Clark starts a comedy set, he always takes a long, deep breath before he walks on stage.
“I just gotta get settled down and settled in,” Clark said.
Even though he’s been doing comedy for about three years, Clark still gets nervous before he performs.
“I get stage fright when I don’t know what I’m doing or when I’m trying something new,” Clark said.
Despite this, Clark does stand-up multiple times each month as a regular on the Lincoln comedy scene. A Verizon sales clerk by day, Clark considers himself to be a “hobbyist” when it comes to comedy. This hobby turned into an obsession, which Clark said pushed him to move from his hometown of York to Lincoln.
Clark said the move allowed him to settle into a more comfortable routine before performing.
“It’s nice to get off of work, come home and actually prepare things,” Clark said. “Where a lot of it beforehand was me coming off of work, changing quick, scratching down some notes and then getting in the car for an hour.”
While Clark recorded himself practicing in the car during his commute, he said he didn’t find the process as helpful as writing material down on paper.
“It was very rushed, it was very hectic,” Clark said. “Now I have a little more control over it, which means I can come into situations a lot more at ease.”
That control is what originally drew Clark to stand-up comedy. He grew up doing theater but said he had a desire to do something on his own. However, Clark said he didn’t think stand-up comedy was a viable option until after college, when he rediscovered comedy albums.
“We were watching those Comedy Central roasts and me and my friends were like ‘we could do that, we could just roast each other,’” Clark said.
While the planned roast never happened, it sparked Clark to look up open mics in Nebraska. He started going to Duffy’s in Lincoln to watch their weekly open mic nights.
Clark didn’t perform the first few times he went, preferring to get acclimated to the atmosphere of the bar. Clark said getting comfortable in the environment he’s performing in is one of his most important pre-set activities. He said he wanted to feel Duffy’s out before jumping on stage.
After a few weeks of just observing, Clark was ready.
“I just wrote down anything that I thought was funny, little jokes that I told in conversation or big thoughts that I had that I think could be funny,” Clark said.
Clark convinced many family members and friends to come to his first few shows. He said he enjoyed that initial success.
However, the number of loved ones began dwindling each set. It soon got to the point where he was performing in front of nobody he knew.
Clark said that didn’t bother him.
“Part of what’s fun about doing this is just the rush of, I don’t know these people, I have to connect with them, I have to make them laugh,” Clark said.
In order to make them laugh, Clark said he draws inspiration from comedians like John Mulaney and Mike Birbiglia. Clark said he likes those comedians for their storytelling abilities, which he takes and puts into his own comedy.
“Sometimes it’s about building up a story, which I really like,” Clark said.
One fan of Clark’s storytelling is local comedian and sometimes collaborator Maura Gillan.
“Whenever he takes the stage, you know he’s going to deliver a funny set with a solid presentation behind it,” Gillan said.
Clark’s stories come from a wide range of topics, anything from relationships to billboards is fair game.
“A lot of the stories tend to revolve around misconceptions or pre-conceived notions of things or maybe just a misunderstanding of language, I really like tearing those apart,” Clark said. “And then I also like dumb, goofy poop jokes too.”
While bathroom humor is staple of Clark’s live set, he’s also evolved beyond that. Gillan said she’s noticed his shift from purely hygiene jokes.
“These days I hear him talk about slightly more personal stuff like family dinners and his girlfriend,” Gillian said. “It’s cool to hear more diverse content from him.”
Clark said he hopes to one day be doing comedy for a living. That means touring or potentially moving to another city like New York or Chicago. While Clark’s not at that point yet, he said he doesn’t see himself staying in Lincoln forever.
“I guess I don’t wanna be in a big fish, little pond situation,” Clark said.