Not everything is a joke to Nate Bargatze. The veteran comic sincerely appreciates the fans who held onto their tickets for shows from the early days of the pandemic. “It means a lot to me that people held on to their tickets for two years,” Bargatze said while calling from Lake Tahoe. “That means a lot to me.”
Bargatze, who will headline Friday at Bing Crosby Theater, is delivering a new set on his aptly dubbed Raincheck tour that will be captured for a TV special in September. “I’m going to talk a lot about my family,” Bargatze said. “I’ll talk about being first born and just go with some life stories. I’ll talk about how I lost weight and what it’s like to be 43.”
It’s not easy to explain the box office appeal of Bargatze, who doesn’t have a TV vehicle or notable film credits. The same goes for his pals Tom Segura and Bert Kreischer. However, all three standups have blown up as live entertainers.
“Comedy has changed so much from when I started in this business (in 2003),” Bargatze said. “There wasn’t Netflix or podcasts. Those are huge reasons why guys like Tom, Bert and I have such an audience without a sitcom or movies.
“The other huge thing is that comedy is everywhere. Comedy is in your pocket. Pull out your phone, and you have access to some amazing comedians. Appearing on a podcast, not just having one, but appearing on a popular one can change your life.”
UFC commentator and comic Joe Rogan’s podcast “The Joe Rogan Experience” has been a game-changer for Bargatze. “Joe’s podcast is massive,” Bargatze said. “His podcast is more influential than a sitcom. If he stopped doing a podcast to focus on a sitcom, that would be a step down. That’s how much the industry has changed.”
What hasn’t changed for comics is that they still have to be amusing to attract and keep an audience. Bargatze, who hails from sleepy Old Hickory, Tenn., jokes about relatable subjects such as travel, family and pop culture. The married father of a 10-year-old daughter delivers a hilarious bit on how the young mothers from MTV’s “Teen Mom” have the right idea.
“It would be a lot easier to have kids when you’re 16 years old,” Bargatze said. “When you’re my age and you have a young kid, you get tired. But, I love being a father and a husband. I talk about the fights my wife and I have, and not only is it something people can connect with, what I talk about comes from a place of love. I’m not an angry comic. My family comes first.”
After living in Los Angeles for the past decade, Bargatze moved back to the Volunteer State for the sake of his daughter. “I wanted her to have a normal life,” Bargatze said. “Los Angeles is full of the abnormal. The cool thing is that I can have a career, and she can have a regular childhood. It’s all worked out for us.”
There was a time when Bargatze wondered while working out material in New York during his early years if his career in comedy would pan out. “You never know what’s going to happen in this business,” he said. “You pay your dues for years. When good things happen, it might not work out as you hoped.”
Timing is everything in comedy. Bargatze laughs at how his first Netflix special debuted when iconic boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. battled the legendary Manny Pacquiao in what was dubbed the “Fight of the Century” in May 2015.
“Nobody watched my special that night,” Bargatze said. “I didn’t even watch it since I wanted to see that fight so bad. Talk about bad luck. But that’s the way it goes sometimes. It was just one of those things that was out of my control. But what I can control is my material, and that’s the cool thing about what I do. There’s no gatekeepers. It’s all me when it comes to the important stuff.”
Bargatze is sincerely looking forward to returning to Spokane. “When someone says, ‘Is there a town you love that people don’t necessarily think of?’ I say that town is Spokane,” Bargatze said. “I always mention your city. I’ve been there a bunch of times, and it’s always amazing.
“The first time I went there, you were having that basketball tournament (Hoopfest) with the three-on-three games. It was awesome. I stood around and watched people play basketball. I’m a big fan of Spokane. It’s such a cool town, and I get to come back to it.”
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