Patton Oswalt has a reputation for slaying trolls on Twitter, but on Thursday he decided to take a different approach when he saw that a man who was attacking him was suffering from serious medical problems.
The comedian started out by sparring with the @MichaelBeatty Twitter account, which sent a nasty tweet his way in response to something Oswalt tweeted about Donald Trump a day ago.
Let’s start at the beginning.
Yesterday, Trump tweeted a rhyming catchphrase about his wall, and Oswalt, a frequent critic of the president’s words and actions, responded with a poem of his own.
In response, someone named @PattySmattyVT tweeted applause, with a GIF of Oswald clapping at an awards show.
Then @MichaelBeatty shot back with this:
Okay, as far as zingers go, it’s not the strongest. Blade: Trinity came out in 2004, and nearly 15 years later even many Oswalt fans might be thinking: “Oh … he was in that?”
But Oswalt hasn’t died horribly onscreen a lot, so Mr. Beatty had to reach back a little far into the filmography.
At first, Oswalt responded with a joke. (Lesson to would-be trolls: Don’t taunt a world-class comic unless you’re truly ready for a showdown.)
Beatty also hit him again with a knock against the comedian’s height. The basketball thing seems a little odd until you remember that Oswalt’s character in Blade: Trinity died during a pick-up basketball game. (Again — this is a very deep dive.)
That’s when Oswalt took a closer look at who he was fighting. Instead of firing back, he reached out.
A look at Beatty’s GoFundMe page shows he had raised $550 toward his $5,000 goal to help pay for his medical expenses.
Then Oswalt donated $2,000, and after his tweet asking others to help, Beatty’s fundraiser soared to 7,710 within one hour — and counting.
Soon, the man was tweeting out his gratitude, as well as an apology.
He created some confusion by suggesting that he will share the money with a cousin, but his previous posts make it clear he is the one suffering from medical problems. He seems to be saying he will also help his relative with the outpouring of financial support.
In addition to noting Beatty’s medical issues, Oswalt also mentioned seeing angry tweets about freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has become a target of the far-right over her support for universal health coverage and other issues, such as a Green New Deal to address climate change and higher marginal tax rate for multi-millionaires.
Oswalt noted that the woman he often attacked was the one fighting for people like him, who are overwhelmed by medical expenses they can’t afford.
Some fans were skeptical about Oswalt helping someone who had behaved cruelly toward him, but the comedian defended his decision to respond with kindness.
He also acknowledged the irony of a Trump defender lashing out while also soliciting help.
A humbled Beatty even said he hoped someday to see Oswalt in person.
Of course, the comedian couldn’t resist just one more joke.
Most hostile interactions on Twitter don’t go this way, but this one has a happy ending.