Battleship Paul F. Tompkins

The Cap City Comedy Club capos unleash the smart bomb that is comic's comic Paul F. Tompkins

Jenine de Shazer Images©2003
Jenine de Shazer Images©2003

Attuned to Mark Twain's notion that "the human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter," the Cap City Comedy Club capos are going great guns by unleashing the smart bomb that is Paul F. Tompkins.

A comic's comic, Tompkins is best known for his HBO one-man show, Driven to Drink, his Emmy-nominated work on Mr. Show With Bob and David, and a crowning stint on Real Time With Bill Maher. Currently, he can be seen on Fox's Kelsey Grammer Presents: The Sketch Show. The Chronicle recently checked in with the man rightly called "America's Friend."

Austin Chronicle: Kelsey Grammer's involvement with The Sketch Show seems vaguely court-ordered. If you had your VH1 Best Week Ever commentator hat on, what would your assessment of the program be?

Paul F. Tompkins: Kelsey Grammer Presents: The Sketch Show? More like Kelsey Grammer Resents the Sketch Show! And then a joke about Britney Spears maybe not being the classiest young lady.

AC: What do you find yourself being nostalgic for lately?

PFT: You mean besides the way Glenn Miller played songs that made the hit parade? I guess I kind of miss those Tamagotchi electronic pets. I mean, I still had one until recently. But even though its battery was still charged, it wasn't responding to any stimulus anymore. So, against the wishes of the store that sold it to me, I took the battery out and threw it away. I've moved on.

AC: What characteristics make folks uniquely Philadelphian?

PFT: Having a crack in your face. Like the Liberty Bell! It's invisible to the naked eye. You can only see it with the aid of special sunglasses. This is the premise of the John Carpenter film They Live. It's worth seeing, although I prefer Big Trouble in Little China, which is the story of the Boxer Rebellion.

AC: What's something you've totally changed your opinion on recently?

PFT: Shaking hands. Enough already! Let's just wave, OK? You can do it from across a room, and it means roughly the same thing. But without you touching me or my personal fingers and palm.

AC: What've been one of the most significant things to happen in stand-up in the last 15 years?

PFT: It got funny for a while. Late Nineties. It's a shame nobody noticed.

AC: Is drinking the devil?

PFT: You know, I don't really believe in "heaven" or "hell," so I don't believe drinking can be "the devil." I believe drinking is like "a person" who makes you "do" and "think" things you "probably" shouldn't "do." But then, I drink "a lot" because I am a "drunk." Also, I "write" for the "Zagat guide."

AC: Should we let popes and Supreme Court justices retire, or is this pony express ride-'em-into-the-ground moxie a good thing?

PFT: Medical science has proven that you retain 100 percent of your mental acuity for as long as you live, so why not let those folks keep making decisions until God calls them home? By the way, I'm not totally sure of that fact about medical science I just cited. I may have dreamed it. Anyway, gay people sure are bad news! Happy 1660 AD, everybody! end story

Mr. Paul F. Tompkins performs with musical comedy duo Hard 'n Phirm and Matt Bearden, April 26-30, Tuesday-Saturday, at Cap City Comedy Club, 8120 Research, For more information, call 467-2333 or visit

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Paul F. Tompkins, Cap City Comedy Club, HBO, Driven to Drink, Mr. Show With Bob and David, Real Time with Bill Maher, FOX, Kelsey Grammer Presents:The Sketch Show, They Live, Big Trouble in Little China

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