Comedian Paul F. Tompkins Deserves His Own TV Show

The man’s been auditioning for 15 years. Give him a TV show already.

Paul F. Tompkins is a weirdo of the vaudevillian old school, complete with the occasional bowler hat. The comedian has been tumbleweeding around for decades, landing in Los Angeles in the mid 1990s to write for such much-loved, short-lived sketch shows as Mr. Show and Tenacious D. He’s paid his cable-special dues, starred in P.T. Anderson's 2007 film There Will Be Blood and popped up on Weeds, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and AMC’s zombie-show wrap-up The Talking Dead. He’s diversified, penning American Idol recaps for New York magazine’s Vulture blog. (Sample dispatch: “Steven Tyler is dressed like Murphy Brown dressed like Ichabod Crane.”)

The man’s been auditioning for 15 years. Give him a TV show already.

Tompkins is already a show-runner: He's been producing one of the interwebs' most inventive hours of comedy for more than a year, a weekly podcast called The Pod F. Tompkast. The hour of fractured, variety-show zaniness combines clips from Tompkins' monthly stand-ups at L.A.’s Largo club with skits with guests like Maya Rudolph and Donald Glover. (There’s also an ongoing, inexplicable side-saga involving Ice T, John Lithgow and Buddy “Cake Boss” Valastro, relayed through Tompkins’ dead-on impressions.)

In other words, Tompkins has made nice with modern comedy's number one frenemy: the Internet. At a time when casual comedy fans are more likely to plug into an iPod than perch on a club barstool (or park in front of an actual TV), Tompkins has found a way to package live energy into a convenient, downloadable format. “It’s nighttime on the Internet,” a sexy lady breathily intones to intro the podcast each week, a self-aware nod to the show’s solo-listening fanbase.

In March, Comedy Central announced that Tompkins—with Tom Scharpling, who's the host of WFMU's The Best Show and a writer for Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!—will develop a show called Evil Genius. It will follow uber-villain Professor Tiberius Lynch (Tompkins), who conquers the world only to find that being diabolical involves a lot of paper pushing. Sounds like Pinky and the Brain meets The Office, with a wacky storyline to let Tompkins shine like the crazy diamond he is. But the big question might be whether a sitcom is the best route these days for a rising comedian.

Take Louis CK, the reigning king of sharp-edged sad-sackery, who suffered through two abortive sitcom attempts before hitting on the darker, experimental formula of FX's sleeper hit Louie. His eponymous show was last year’s underdog success story: Its ratings have steadily climbed, helped by old episodes streaming on Netflix, and it gathered two Emmy noms and was recently picked up for a third season. Part of the draw is that the show’s vignettes are self-contained enough that a viewer can drop in and out and still follow along. More plot-heavy, insular shows, like Community, have had harder luck of late.

In any case, Evil Genius would give Tompkins the resources he deserves and bring his name to a wider audience. And if it only lasts a season or two, we'll always have nighttime on the Internet.

Screenshot via (left) Wikimedia Commons (right)

Greta Thunberg has been dubbed the "Joan of Arc of climate change" for good reason. The 16-year-old activist embodies the courage and conviction of the unlikely underdog heroine, as well as the seemingly innate ability to lead a movement.

Thunberg has dedicated her young life to waking up the world to the climate crisis we face and cutting the crap that gets in the way of fixing it. Her speeches are a unique blend of calm rationality and no-holds-barred bluntness. She speaks truth to power, dispassionately and unflinchingly, and it is glorious.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
Ottawa Humane Society / Flickr

The Trump Administration won't be remembered for being kind to animals.

In 2018, it launched a new effort to reinstate cruel hunting practices in Alaska that had been outlawed under Obama. Hunters will be able to shoot hibernating bear cubs, murder wolf and coyote cubs while in their dens, and use dogs to hunt black bears.

Efforts to end animal cruelty by the USDA have been curtailed as well. In 2016, under the Obama Administration, the USDA issued 4,944 animal welfare citations, in two years the numbers dropped to just 1,716.

Keep Reading Show less

The disappearance of 40-year-old mortgage broker William Earl Moldt remained a mystery for 22 years because the technology used to find him hadn't been developed yet.

Moldt was reported missing on November 8, 1997. He had left a nightclub around 11 p.m. where he had been drinking. He wasn't known as a heavy drinker and witnesses at the bar said he didn't seem intoxicated when he left.

Keep Reading Show less
via Real Time with Bill Maher / YouTube and The Late Late Show with James Corden / YouTube

A controversial editorial on America's obesity epidemic and healthcare by comedian Bill Maher on his HBO show "Real Time" inspired a thoughtful, and funny, response by James Cordon. It also made for a great debate about healthcare that Americans are avoiding.

At the end of the September 6th episode of "Real Time, " Maher turned to the camera for his usual editorial and discussed how obesity is a huge part of the healthcare debate that no one is having.

"At Next Thursday's debate, one of the candidates has to say, 'The problem with our healthcare system is Americans eat shit and too much of it.' All the candidates will mention their health plans but no one will bring up the key factor: the citizens don't lift a finger to help," Maher said sternly.

Keep Reading Show less
via Gage Skidmore

The common stereotypes about liberals and conservatives are that liberals are bleeding hearts and conservatives are cold-hearted.

It makes sense, conservatives want limited government and to cut social programs that help the more vulnerable members of society. Whereas liberals don't mind paying a few more dollars in taxes to help the unfortunate.

A recent study out of Belgium scientifically supports the notion that people who scored lower on emotional ability tests tend to have right-wing and racist views.

Keep Reading Show less