Paul F Tompkins on coming to London: “They might be sociopaths.”
I ate eight salmon rolls, drank a can of diet coke and sat down on my floor to do an interview with Paul F. Tompkins. Not because I am particularly against chairs and comfortable seating, but because my room is so tiny that there is not room for anything else than a single bed. And that is the setting in which I conducted an interview with one of the greatest and most interesting comedians in the world. Self-consciously I stuttered my way through the conversation – at certain times I was almost certain that he knew that I was sat on the floor, that my foot was sleeping, that my breath smelled of salmon and most of all, that I had no idea what I was doing. If Paul F Tompkins did in fact know all of this, he showed no sign of it and we actually managed to talk for 17 minutes and 31 seconds – not that anyone is counting – and whilst most of it was me attempting to remember the English language, we also drew a pretty good outline of what his expectations to his forthcoming show in London are.
Is it the first time you’re in London?
It’s the first time I’m doing stand-up in London. I’ve been there a few times before – my sister lived there briefly and I’ve been to weddings there. The last time I was there professionally was for an American TV-show called “Kelsey Grammer Presents: The Sketch Show” which was the American version of the British “The Sketch Show” with Lee Mack.
So why are you doing London now?
I guess I feel ready to do it. I was intimidated by it for a long time. It’s something I have always wanted to do and I finally feel mature enough to do it.
Why were you intimidated?
Performing in a different culture is always intimidating because you don’t know if your sensibility will translate. I’ve been to comedy clubs in London and the crowds are very rowdy and it reminded me so much of American comedy clubs. It’s the aspect of comedy clubs that I don’t like because I’m not a “party comedian”. My stuff is more story-oriented. I want to just do my show and just have people pay attention and I do want to feel like I have to be on top of them every other moment or have the show interrupted by people who are more focused on drinking than on the show.
So what are your expectations of the show?
I’m pretty sure that the Soho Theatre is a bit more thoughtful and the people are more focused on the show than on partying, but I could be wrong. They could be sociopaths.
How do you feel about British comedy?
I’ve always been a big fan of British comedy. I have particularly liked sketch comedy since I was a kid. Like Monty Python, Steve Coogan, The Fast Show and BlackAdder. I’d also love to see some stuff live while I’m there, but I’m working every night so it’s going to be difficult.
Are you going to see the sights?
There’s a lot that I have seen already but between 2004 and today, certainly a lot has changed. I certainly want to make the most of the city while I’m there.
Your show is called “Crying and driving” – what is it essentially about?
It’s stories that centre around my relationship with my wife and how that has impacted my life. It covers a lot of ground of being in a successful relationship that led to marriage – and also how I was able to learn how to drive late in life.
Have you felt like you needed to change anything to adjust the show to a British audience?
I don’t think so. I don’t think I have any references that people won’t get. The good thing about telling stories from your own life in such a personal way is that they’re experiences that are all inherently relatable, and in order to make it universal I explore the emotional stuff in the stories so it doesn’t depend on either timely references or local references. I looked over the stuff and realised: Oh, I don’t even have to change any words. I don’t have to change anything… Well, unless they are sociopaths.
What if they are?
Haha! I think sociopaths will probably pick up some pointers on how to better mimic human emotion.
Is there anything you want to say to the British people before you come over?
I look forward to doing it. I mean, look me up. I hope that will make you curious.
Okay, thank you so much.
Can I say one final thing?
My – name – has – no – H – in – it.
What, did you look in my notes? You sure are creepy, Mr. Tompkins, but I still like ya.
Okay, so I did not say the last sentence but the beauty of doing a written article is that you can edit out all the mistakes you made and make yourself come across as cooler. There certainly wasn’t any need to add or edit anything to make Paul F Tompkins (without an H, people) seem cooler, because despite being one of the most talented and hard-working comedians in the world, he’s down to earth and genuinely looking forward to coming to London.
For more Paul F Tompkins, go to http://paulftompkins.com/
Or follow @PFTompkins on Twitter
Paul F.Tompkins at the Soho Theatre from 2nd -14th April visit http://www.sohotheatre.com/
NOTE: The first two nights already sold out so grab your tickets while you can.