Nate Bargatze grew up in a magical world. Literally. His father is a magician and he remembers being surrounded by tricks and props his whole life.
“It’s all you know, so it doesn’t stick out in your head as much as it should,” Bargatze tells SF Weekly. He’s headed to The Punch Line this week for a four-night run starting Wednesday as part of a non-stop tour he’s been on all year.
Bargatze started out at Second City in Chicago in the early oughts and followed the well-worn path from there to New York to hone his craft doing standup. However, he’s only really been making the watercooler talk in the comedy world for the past few years, notably scoring a 30-minute spot on Netflix’s 2017 release, The Standups.
Before getting into show business, Bargatze was working in his home state of Tennessee checking water meters in people’s homes — and you can kind of tell. He comes off as a normal, nice guy, kind of like an affable buddy of yours from the South named “Jones.” His act pretty much steers clear of politics and overt raunchiness, while focusing on pseudo-deadpan observations of stuff that actually happens to him in real-life.
There’s enough politics, he says, adding that, “Everybody likes to talk about it all the time. If there can be an hour where you don’t, then that’s all you can hope for. Give people a break. How many jokes are being done over and over and over?”
This leaves a lot of space to fill in a comedy routine these days, and to do so, Bargatze draws heavily from his day-to-day interactions.
“You’re hyper-aware of situations, but like, dumb situations. For example, the way you say goodbye when you leave someone’s house. I could over think that,” he says. “It’s not like you want to see bad stuff happen, but if someone’s going to walk into a door, you know you could stop it, but you’re like ‘let me see what’s going to happen, and how people will react to it.’”
This mildly sadistic research seems to be justified by his deep-seated desire to make people laugh. “It’s an insane thing to get to do,” he says. “The art of that is awesome. It’s crazy, it’s fun. … There’s nothing better than coming up with a new joke. It’s the greatest feeling in the world.”
Bargatze says he’s looking forward to his stay in San Francisco because he — along with many other comics, apparently — sees the city as a great comedy town.
“It’s not a big secret or anything, you got good comedy fans, so anytime you get to go perform there, it’s the greatest. Comedians shoot a ton of specials in San Francisco, they take advantage of you guys because you’re so nice, and fun, and you like comedy … So we’re like, we might as well keep going back there.”
Nate Bargatze, Wednesday, Sept. 27 – Saturday, Sept. 30, 8 p.m., at The Punch Line, 444 Battery St. $22.50; punchlinecomedyclub.com