Nationally known stand-up comedian Pat McGann is used to making people laugh. But when he isn’t on tour, the joke is on him, as he is constantly trying to navigate what he calls the “over-scheduled, crazy busy, controlled chaos” of his home life. “My kids always ask me when mom is going to be home,” he says. “Do they not think I’m wondering the same thing?”
Chicago Parent: Your son Elliot (now in remission) battled leukemia as a toddler. How did you use your status to advocate for kids with cancer?
Pat McGann: We created a night of comedy to raise money and awareness of pediatric cancer. I was fortunate to have relationships with so many great comics that donated their time and talents to help families that were in the midst of a battle with cancer. Beyond that, we try to give back to all of the foundations and charitable groups that helped us during Elliot’s journey. We will always be part of that world.
CP: You made a career change at age 31, when you quit your job selling boxes for a packaging company. What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about taking a leap of faith?
PM: No matter where you are on the path of life, you can always find time for what you’re passionate about. That’s the first step, find time to work on whatever craft you have in mind and grow it from there. Before you know it, you’ll be yelling at your kids to get dressed for a photo shoot with Chicago Parent!
CP: How does being dad influence your material?
PM: Having children changes your point of view, and that’s really what you have to share with audiences, a point of view. They are constantly giving me new things to think about and talk about.
CP: On the flip side, do your little ones ever get mad at you when they find out you are using family stories in material?
PM: Josephine doesn’t like when I imitate her mom. I will talk like my wife on stage and she will say “Mommy doesn’t sound like that” and then I have to say that it’s close enough, and people are laughing so we gotta stick with it if you want to keep wearing those glitter shirts.
CP: What’s the latest bit of comedy straight from the McGann family?
PM: We just got a dog and he’s been in heat trying to climb on my kids’ legs. Our youngest, Luke, likes to let him ride for a bit, as he thinks it’s a game. I finally said, “he’s trying to have a baby with your leg.” They didn’t understand, but they laughed and now they know they can’t let them do it or their leg might get pregnant. We laugh and joke a lot. I love that all of my kids have their own sense of humor.
CP: Which TV dad are you most like?
PM: The good parts of Al Bundy and Tony Soprano, and the dad from Webster. I wish I could buy my kids a house where they could take the dumbwaiter instead of the stairs.
More about Pat McGann
Hometown: Chicago, Beverly/Morgan Park neighborhood
Day job: Stand-up comedian and television show host
Kids: Josephine, 7, Elliot, 6, and Luke, 5
Parenting must haves: Wipes ‘til you die
Favorite thing to do in winter in Chicago: Hide in the basement
This article originally appeared in Chicago Parent’s January 2020 print issue. Read the rest of the issue.