Marc Maron has called Nate Bargatze a “comic who should be big” and Jim Gaffigan called him “one of the top up and coming comics.” The Tennessee born-and-raised comedian, known for his deadpan demeanour, has appeared multiple times on Conan and was one of the first comedians to perform on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon. Bargatze has also performed at festivals such as Bonnaroo, SXSW, and Moontower; appeared on three episodes of Maron’s celebrated WTF podcast; and performed for the troops in Iraq and Kuwait over five times.
Bargatze has also released an album, Yelled At By A Clown, and a comedy special, Full Time Magic. Bargatze is in Vancouver with the JFL Northwest comedy festival Feb. 18, when he’ll perform at the Biltmore Cabaret (2755 Prince Edward St.).
Q: You are a fan of something called the Commodore Vanderbilts. Is it okay to not know who or what the Commodore Vanderbilts are?
A: Yes. It’s a college in Nashville, and I did not even go there. But growing up, we had the Tennessee Titans, and we didn’t get in until ’97 or ’98, and college sports are very big in the South, especially in areas that don’t have pro teams. That’s when I became a big fan of them. And I had a cousin who coached basketball there and my mom worked at Vanderbilt. So we kind of just grew up watching Vanderbilt. That’s not what I’m here to do, to convert you to Vanderbilt.
Q: You live in Nashville. Have you resisted the lure of Los Angeles?
A: I was in Chicago for two years, New York for nine, and L.A. for two. So I was gone about 13 years. Then I started going on the road a lot more. And I have a daughter and I’m married, and my whole family is still in Nashville. With how much I travel, Nashville’s kind of more centrally located. I was gone so much anyway, that it wasn’t like I was missing anything in Los Angeles. I don’t do a ton of auditions. I go out every couple of months and spend a week or two.
Q: Does this mean you’re not hungry to have your own sitcom?
A: No, I am. I write ‘em. I try to sell ’em. I write ‘em down here and go out there to sell them. I’ve sold scripts, we’ve made a pilot. But I’m hopefully going to pitch one this year. All the shows I would write, the idea would be me living in Nashville. I think it helps to be living here currently to write from that perspective. But that’s the big goal. If I had to move back there again, I would. I think when you move away from L.A. or New York, you always have to be willing to move back.
Q: It sounds like every year you pitch a new sitcom, and they’re all about you living in Nashville. Is that right?
A: Yeah, basically. We’ll just ride that out. Some have been multi-cam, like an Everybody Loves Raymond. This year I think we’ll try a single-cam idea. You try to guess where you’re going to, whether you try to pitch Netflix or a network.
Q: There seems to be a new platform everyday.
A: It’s pretty wild. There’s so much original content coming out. So many different places. And people seem to be searching it out and finding it, if the show’s good. If you go back to Breaking Bad, it was on AMC, which was just a movie channel. It wasn’t known for its series. And now that’s a huge place.
Q: Have you been to Vancouver before?
A: I did the Comedy Mix, once or twice. I’ve been to Vancouver. I’m a fan. It’s fun when you go on the road and you go to a town and you can actually walk around, and you’re downtown. You’re in the city. Other times you go out and you’re out on the highway, in the middle of nowhere.
I’ve done my share of Canada. I’ve been to Winnipeg. It was minus 20 degrees out.
Q: You haven’t paid your comedy dues until you’ve played Winnipeg in the winter.
A: Yeah, I felt like that I could check that off. I was there in the summer once too. But it’s funny, you almost want to go out in the winter. People still go out. Anywhere else when it gets cold, the city shuts down. In Winnipeg, it’s nothing to them. They’re used to it. More people come out. If there’s ice outside, they want to go out and have fun. It gets so cold. And there’ll be guys wearing T-shirts.
Q: For people who’ve seen Full Time Magic, is your Vancouver set going to be all new material?
A: It should be all new. I’m not known so much so I know that some people will know me and some people won’t. I just went to Chicago and did a whole new set. I have the material. Occasionally I might throw in one or two jokes from that special. But it will be mainly all new material, if not all new.
For tickets to Nate Bargatze at the Biltmore Cabaret and a full JFL Northwest schedule, visit jflnorthwest.com.