Nate Bargatze Recounts ‘Late Show’ Rejection in Chat with David Letterman

Exploring Nate Bargatze's unique journey through family-oriented comedy

by Zain ul Abedin
Nate Bargatze Recounts ‘Late Show’ Rejection in Chat with David Letterman
© Charley Gallay/Getty Images

David Letterman recently hosted the first installment of his "Gods of Comedy" series at Netflix Is a Joke Fest, featuring a compelling conversation with comedian Nate Bargatze at the Montalbán Theatre in Hollywood.

The event marked a significant moment as Letterman admitted he had never met Bargatze before, describing the opportunity as a thrilling experience with one of the best in comedy. Throughout the 90-minute dialogue, Letterman delved into Bargatze's roots in Tennessee and his comedic journey, highlighting a pivotal moment when Bargatze faced rejection.

In 2012, his audition tape for "The Late Show With David Letterman" was turned down, with the feedback labeling it as "too mundane." Bargatze humorously shared, "I didn't know what that word meant, so I looked it up and thought, 'I don't think that's good.'

" The discussion also revisited Bargatze's successful performance at the Hollywood Bowl alongside renowned comedians Jerry Seinfeld, Sebastian Maniscalco, and Jim Gaffigan, which drew a sold-out crowd. Letterman took a moment to apologize for the past rejection and showed a clip of Bargatze's performance on Conan O'Brien's show, where he used the same joke initially submitted to "The Late Show."

Comedy and Family Values

Reflecting on the early challenges in his career, Bargatze spoke about the frequent rejections and the necessity of fine-tuning his approach to stand-up comedy while performing in cities like Chicago, Boston, and New York.

He emphasized the importance of maintaining a clean act, primarily to avoid embarrassing his family during shows. His father, Stephen Bargatze, a professional magician who has performed over 100 shows with him, was a significant influence in this decision.

Growing up in a traditional southern Christian household, Bargatze was limited to certain entertainment forms, such as Sinbad's stand-up, which aligned with his family's values. He stated, "I've always wanted my parents' approval of my comedy.

Fortunately, it works for everybody else, but I'm just trying to make sure I don't embarrass them." Looking ahead, Bargatze, now 45, shared his vision for the next phase of his career, which involves transitioning his clean comedy style from stand-up to movies.

He expressed a desire to create family-friendly films that appeal to all ages, reminiscent of classics like "Home Alone," where the content is universally enjoyable. Bargatze’s ambition reflects his commitment to inclusivity in comedy, hoping to bridge generational gaps and offer entertainment that entire families, including grandparents and children, can appreciate together.