Paul F. Tompkins charms at the Soho Theatre
Having been in the game for some 20 years, Paul F. Tompkins is both archetypal and exceptional as a modern American comic. As well as having his own critically acclaimed podcast (The Pod F. Tompkast – truly worth checking out), Tompkins has appeared in various films and TV shows over the years. But his regular performances in LA as both standup and sketch comic have gradually built a reputation that – with the help of his podcasting and TV appearances – has finally helped the comedian establish a transatlantic fanbase.
As suggested by the subtitle (Crying & Driving), Tompkins’s UK debut at the Soho Theatre sees the comedian discussing the emotional peaks and troughs of the last few years, the story of his marriage and of learning to drive at the age of 41 in Los Angeles (the sheer embarrassment of the latter perhaps a little lost on an audience of Oyster-wielding, wine-swilling Londoners). In any case, the actual content of the show barely matters, as Tompkins’ enthusiastic, joyous and earnest delivery could bring to life anecdotage of any calibre.
In the world of standup comedy there has always been a distinct transatlantic divide that is rarely traversed. In many ways after all, modern standup is an American art form, and Tompkins’ show proves that British comedy definitely has a lot to learn. There was none of the incessant shouting or posturing found on the “wacky” stages of Edinburgh or Michael Macintyre’s infamous road show, and not even any of the crass old satirical observations so prevalent in UK comedy. Politics were left at the door as Tompkins spent Crying & Driving’s duration telling anecdotes with a very special mixture of zealous confidence and affable humility. Avoiding the foolish tropes of modern comedy, he never went for the jugular or for the easy joke, choosing rather to spin his yarns with the skill of a seasoned storyteller – and yet he’s still insatiably funny. His seemingly innocuous reflections manage to garner the kind of honest laughter other comedians can only imagine.
The charming and effortless charisma maintained by Paul F. Tompkins is a welcome reminder that the most gifted performers need little more than an empty stage and a story to tell.
Paul F. Tompkins is at the Soho Theatre until 13th April 2013. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
For further information and future events visit Paul F. Tompkins’s website here.
Watch Paul F. Tompkins on Conan in 2012 here: