Paul F. Tompkins




September 12, 1968


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA


52 years old


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A little about Paul F.

As long as I've got my suit and tie

Tompkins is known for his style of dress during his live comedic performances, always performing in suit and tie, sometimes in pinstripes and with a bowtie. He has described his look as "foppish" and "just this side of Cedric the Entertainer."

PFT in PTA movies

Paul Thomas Anderson cast Tompkins in a small role in the 1999 film Magnolia after watching Tompkins perform at Largo, and would subsequently cast him in There Will Be Blood without any audition.

Tompkins 300 tour

In 2009, he embarked on the "Tompkins 300" tour and would often reach out to his Twitter followers in order to fill seats. This method evolved over time and Facebook groups formed in major cities where he would be touring, which would be the way tha...

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Paul F.'s posts (12)

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Paul F. Tompkins


If comedy is still scary for him

It always was and it still is. … For most standups, you have to be in the moment because anything can happen in the room. … Your job as the comedian is to let everyone know that everything’s gonna be OK. The most extreme example is like if someone had a heart attack — which has happened to me and other people that I know. It’s crazy. But you’re the one on stage, you have lights pointed at you, and you have a microphone, and you have to say OK, 'Well, we’re going to deal with this and everything’s going to be fine.'


One time Bob despised a sketch of mine so much at a readthru, he told me what was wrong with it for a full ten minutes before concluding, "So I guess I'm saying I hate this sketch and it's trying to kill me," as he dropped it on the ground.
The thing that I love about Scott is that he is not an agent of chaos, but he is an agent of mischief. He loves to paint other people into a corner. And it’s fun, it’s really fun. You know, there are times when it’s frustrating because you might have a thing that you wanted to do but now because you did screw up a word or something, he jumps on that — but, you know, everyone is in agreement. ... It’s entirely up to the improviser, to the guest, to say, 'You know what, yes, I am going to go along with this idea, this very challenging idea that he has pushed me into, because it’ll be fun to try to get out of it. It’ll be fun to try to make sense of this.' And, ultimately, that’s one of the th...
Vocally: The Ghost of Richard Harrow Acting-wise: Werner Herzog
I am a huge fan of James Adomian's Tom Leykis, Lauren Lapkus' Traci Reardon, and anything Andy Daly ever does.
You may find out about my experiences on There Will Be Blood via my hilarious standup special LABORING UNDER DELUSIONS or Matt Gourley's amazing podcast I WAS THERE TOO.
It gets difficult sometimes! Lines get blurred and one sometimes has to remember, oh, we're all strangers and there are subtleties and nuances of expression that are lost in typing. Overall, though, I think it's good.
I think that comedy, at its most basic level, is making light of unpleasant things. That’s how we deal with life. I think that the myth that comedy and depression are linked, and that any artist has to be unhappy to create, is a very dangerous myth that I think has hurt a lot of people. When Robin Williams died, I did a few interviews about that, because people were reaching out to the comedy community and asking people how they felt and their personal stories. A lot of people wanted to draw a link between comedians and depression and suicide, and I think that’s a really terrible myth. Anybody can be depressed in any walk of life. It just seems strange when comedians are depressed, because t...
Comedy is fun, and there’s a lot of times when I’ll be having a bad day and after doing a podcast, or doing stand up or something, I begin to feel better. But really, what’s helped my mental health is therapy. I mean, go to a professional for that. People are fond of saying that “such and such” is “my therapy,” and that’s great if it works for you, but I don’t think you really understand what therapy is and why people need it. And if you don’t need it, then great, good for you. I think therapy is a thing that everybody can benefit from—you don’t have to have deep emotional instability in order to get something out of it. It’s just there to help you with your interpersonal relationships. Mean...
When I started out, I was doing more conceptual bits that were just kind of silly. And then gradually, I expanded my premises. Everyone when you start out, for the most part, your material is very brief. You don’t trust that you can stay on stage for that long and get laughs. You don’t want to overstay your welcome. So you tend not to flesh out your premises that much. As you get more confident and more relaxed, you’re able to give a premise the treatment that it deserves and really explore your ideas. That’s what happened with me—I gradually expanded, and my comedy slowly became more about me and less about high concepts.
Finding a scene where it was like, “Oh, this is the kind of stuff I’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t in the clubs in Philadelphia.” I wasn’t able to completely see myself on stage and be funny in the way I truly wanted to be. The alt scene helped me shape a much more conversational style and gave me the confidence to be as creative as I possibly could be, and not have a voice in my head saying, “That’s going too far, people need that club rhythm in order to digest what you’re saying.” The alt scene showed me a different way of doing things.