Paul F. Tompkins to be 17 once he braved a stage for the first time come make human being laugh. It to be Philadelphia, July 1986. He wasn’t by himself — it was a twin act v his girlfriend — however it to be still terrifying. “I remember that people laughed enough to give me the idea that we had done well,” Tompkins said. “I felt favor it was the beginning of a dream coming true.”
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When he recently revisited those at an early stage days, digitizing his repertoire of tape-recorded stand-up sets, he “would cringe,” that said. “It’s no my fault, earlier then, that ns wasn’t as good as i am now. However it was weird that i couldn’t check out it as an evolution.”
Now 53, Tompkins is a comedy veteran — even if no the blockbuster kind. One Emmy-nominated writer on the Gen-X map out darling “Mr. Present With Bob and David,” voice actor on together animated series as “BoJack Horseman” and arguably the king that comedy podcast guests, he’s developed a career out of observational bons mots and also outrageous improvised characters — a mix of note Twain, old-timey radio entertainer and also vaudeville actor for the web age.
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He organized a live selection show, “The Paul F. Tompkins Show,” native 2002 come 2014 at the Largo, and on Sept. 20, he’ll revive the concept for his an initial live show because the COVID-19 pandemic began. The sold-out “Varietopia” in ~ the Lodge Room in Highland Park will function music, comedy and special guests, and also Tompkins will do stand-up for the an initial time in several years.
“I am so excited come be back on a stage again and also feeling the connection,” Tompkins said. “I mean, I’m additionally terrified, due to the fact that I haven’t been onstage in forever. I just want to perform this present to carry out this show. Since when that is fun, it is the many fun I’ve ever had. Since it is every the things I like to do.”
It was the year that pandemic-related closures that revived his desire to put on a huge show. He got burnt out before, the said, once “getting people to buy tickets felt like an ext work 보다 the present did, and also then the display felt like occupational after all the work.” that didn’t have that problem this time approximately — tickets for “Varietopia” marketed out within 24 hours.
Tompkins also realized the in the previous he’d been doing shows with ulterior motives, tho holding onto part of the dream that lugged him to Hollywood in 1996.
“Even though i tried to push this to the back of my mind, it was always there,” that said. “I wanted it to lead to something else. I want it to it is in like: ‘If the right human sees this, it’ll become blah, blah, blah. It’ll obtain talked about.’”
The always seriously pull on funnyman is frequently the bridesmaid in mainstream entertainment — a guest on shows from “Frasier” to “Rutherford Falls,” an unseen phone call operator in Paul thomas Anderson’s “Magnolia,” a disembodied voice in cartoons — and also never the bride. He starred in TV pilots, consisting of “The Peter Principle” with Amy Adams in 2000, that weren’t picked up. He’s worked steadily however often invisibly or just a tiny underground.
“I truly think that if he had actually been act comedy in the 1940s and 1950s and 1960s, he would certainly have been just one of the biggest people roughly to execute it,” said longtime friend Scott Aukerman, organize of the popular podcast “Comedy Bang! Bang!”
Podcasts and also live improv, though, have given Tompkins his spotlight. There, his lightning rapid wit, library of social references and phrases and seemingly limitless arsenal the impressions and original characters take center stage. Whether Tompkin’s playing the philosophical eccentric Werner Herzog, a foul-mouthed Santa Claus or invoice Paxton’s character from “Titanic,” his power id has been may be to run wild on “Comedy Bang! Bang!” and other audio shows.
Describing his unique set of gifts, Tawny Newsome said: “Wild voices. Insane left turns. A white-hot cable pulled tight.” Newsome co-hosts the “Star Trek” podcast “The Pod Directive” with Tompkins and also has improvised with him often. “There’s simply an undercurrent of fury underneath these yes, really sweet, delightful characters. It’s my favourite thing.”
The kid of a rail man and also the 5th of six children, Tompkins relocated to L.A. After eight years of stand-up in the Philly-area society circuit. Right here he uncovered the alt comedy scene, wherein the likes of Janeane Garofalo and Bob Odenkirk to be doing conversational, almost avant-garde stand-up in bookstores and coffee shops.
“I to be like: ‘Oh, mine God. This is what I want to do,’ however I no know exactly how to carry out it,” Tompkins said. “I tho only had actually the club theme to occupational with, and it was as well scary because that me to even conceive of just talking choose I speak offstage. Seeing the was a huge creative watershed for me.”
Odenkirk and also David overcome noticed Tompkins in the absurdist lay out troupe the Skates and also hired him together a writer top top “Mr. Show.” for fans of offbeat comedy, that feat puts Tompkins top top Mt. Olympus. The ignited his career and also led to headlining set in clubs, creating on “Real Time with Bill Maher” and also other shows, itinerant exhilaration gigs and also eventually hosting his own TV shows.
“Best Week ever With Paul F. Tompkins,” a gleefully derisive recap the weekly occasions on VH1, lasted just a year. “No, friend Shut Up!,” which had the comedian hosting a mock cable dispute show with a panel of puppets, ran for three years on fusion TV.
He’s content through the twists and also turns his career has taken, selecting not come dwell on what could have been. Improv, i m sorry he began late in life and learned top top the fly, has given Tompkins more an imaginative latitude — and also a more worldwide fanbase — 보다 he can have imagined.
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“He’s working from the top of his knowledge all the time, and he’s a very, an extremely intelligent person,” said Aukerman, who shares his infectiously sarcastic friendship v Tompkins and Lauren Lapkus on the podcast “Threedom.” “Although I’ve never ever seen him review a book, nor could I testify to the truth that that has ever read a book.”
Tompkins has end up being a mensch to younger comedians choose Newsome and Lapkus, that both provided his generosity onstage and also off. He’s provided dozens the improvisers a platform on his live shows and also his previous podcast, “Spontaneanation,” constantly validating them through his boisterous ship laugh.
On mike, Tompkins has been candid about most elements of his life, including depression. He made it through the pandemic, the said, by an altering his medication, but also by hosting a weekly “after dinner” podcast with his wife, actress Janie Haddad Tompkins. “Stay F. Homekins” is yet an additional example of what can be done just in this old-fashioned, newfangled medium.