by Andrew Wantuck
Andrew: How is your day today?
Tom: Just starting, I just woke up (pause).
Andrew: So, no answer?
Tom: I don’t really know yet. I can feel my feet and I can see out of one eye — so far so good.
Andrew: How would you describe your style of comedy?
Tom: I would say it’s observational humor on how disgustingly difficult it is to be a human being.
Andrew: You had a sitcom that aired on NBC. What did you learn from the “Come to Papa” experience?
Tom: I learned first and foremost that I look great on TV. But really, that I am an exceptionally good actor, and that I am as funny on TV as I am in person.
Andrew: (Laughs) What is the biggest challenge when turning a stand-up act into a sitcom?
Tom: With your act you can hone your jokes and it’s just you. You are confident and you know how to make these things funny. When you put together a script you’re relying on other people and other factors that can ruin all your great humor. So the hardest part is giving up that control over exactly what makes it funny.
Andrew: How is life with your family?
Tom: It’s going great. I have been on the road most of year.
Andrew: (Laughs) You tour with Jerry Seinfeld. When did that relationship start?
Tom: About five years ago. He thought I was really funny, you know, he’s very smart.
Tom: We have been on tour, or as I call it, co-headlining since then.
Andrew: What are you currently working on?
Tom: A new movie coming out called “The Informant,” and I am shooting a new comedy special in the beginning of the year.
Andrew: What is the title of the special?
Tom: The working title is “the same material that I am doing at The Comedy & Magic Club Friday and Saturday,” but it’s a working title. I may change it in order to have more mainstream appeal.
Andrew: (Laughs) What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Tom: Always check your fly before going on stage.
Andrew: Do you discuss politics in your act?
Tom: I don’t. It just doesn’t seem to matter, or be that funny to everybody. It’s kinda alienating. There was a time when if you wanted to stay friends with somebody you never talked about politics, now everybody does, and everyone hates each other. I also talk about things that are timeless, and with politics and current events stuff, I don’t really spend that much time on in my act.
Andrew: What would you say is the first step in making the world a better place?
Tom: Get rid of half of us.
Andrew: (laughs) What do you want your legacy to reflect: a television star, movie star, or stand-up comedian?
Tom: I do a lot of film, I do a lot of TV, and my life’s work is stand-up. I don’t believe in aiming too high, so I would say that I want my legacy, in all three of those pursuits, to be that Tom Papa was the greatest of all time.
Andrew: Is there anything in your life that you would change?
Tom: No, my life is really great, as a matter of fact, I am already able to see out of my other eye.