15 Paul F. Tompkins Jokes for the Comedy Hall of Fame
Paul F. Tompkins is the most mainstream underground comedian of all time. Has he been on television and in hit movies? Yes. Several times. But have your parents ever heard of PFT? Has he ever been a leading man on a network sitcom?
I realize some fans will cite Bajillion Dollar Properties, but it doesn’t count, no matter how good it is. No one remembered Seeso’s existence until you just read this sentence, and even then, half of you paused to make sure you weren’t thinking about Quibi. The point is, he’s been overdue for his flowers despite being all around us for the past three decades.
The man can make you laugh from so many different directions it’s uncanny. Need a great stand-up? Listen to Tompkins. Need a great improviser? Have him join the troupe. Need a great sketch? Have him help write it. Need a voice for a cartoon? He’ll deliver an amazing vocal performance. The “F” in “Paul F. Tompkins” stands for “Fuck, What Can’t He Do?”
So let’s finally crown this king by showcasing some of his best jokes and moments for the Comedy Hall of Fame…
On Cake v. Pie
As Andrew Lloyd Webber
One of several long-running characters Tompkins portrays on the podcast/TV show/podcast, Comedy Bang! Bang!, is an insane impression of the musical composer, in which PFT dresses up in a top hat, ermine cape and wears a medal for some reason. The exaggerations he takes are almost as ludicrous as the real Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Starlight Express, a real musical about trains featuring dancers on roller skates.
On Gambling and Grammar
On Working in Retail
Trying to make his mark in the L.A. comedy scene, Tompkins did retail work to make ends meet during the day while performing at night. One such workplace was a hat store called “Hats in the Belfry,” which was apparently just as fun as the pun implies (in other words, not at all), especially when a potential customer wanted to try a very specific hat with a very specific name. And no, it’s not “king hat.”
On Meeting Tom Cruise at a Table Read
When PFT was approached by PTA (Paul Thomas Anderson) for a part in Magnolia, he was invited for a table read of the screenplay in which Tompkins had to frantically find the multiple characters he was auditioning for within the script. Amidst all this, the most famous Hollywood actor of all time introduced himself to Tompkins.
As Vigilante J.W. Stillwater
One of Tompkins’ popular original Comedy Bang! Bang! characters is fan boat mechanic Eddie Lee Capers— er, J.W. Stillwater, who is actually a vigilante that fights crime in Cumberbatch County, Florida. We hope that one day he finds his hammer.
On the Mystery of Matt Damon’s Gelatinous Cubes
While on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Tompkins shared a behind-the-scenes story about acting with Damon in The Informant!, which left him thinking that Damon was a space alien until a year later when Tom Arnold of all people, revealed the secret.
‘I’m Outta Here Like Steve Martin!’
In an early set, PFT discussed with his roommates what is possibly the weirdest sentence anyone could have overheard in their life.
On Driving (and Crying)
Tompkins hadn’t learned how to drive a car until his 40s and shared his experience on the stage.
On the Best Name in All of Retail
On Horror Movie Tropes
Tompkins broke down the appeal (or lack thereof) of horror movies, especially the scene when the protagonist takes a moment to wash their face.
On Canned Peanut Brittle
In which he discusses the most common snack in all the world.
Singing Songs About Vanity License Plates and Other Random Things
Displaying one of the only reasons to still have Twitter, Tompkins started a thread of himself improvising songs based on license plates he encounters while driving around town. It got to the point where he just sang about any random thing, but nary a complaint is to be found — or warranted.
His Impression of Werner Herzog Amusing Werner Herzog
While the 2010s saw Herzog impressions explode the way Christopher Walken impressions blew up in the 1990s, no one did it better than Tompkins. He’d frequently unleash his impression as a character on Comedy Bang! Bang! and other podcasts/shows, including doing a bit wherein he’d write Yelp reviews in the voice of the acclaimed director. It reached the point where even the real Herzog himself gave Tompkins his props.