Live review: Paul F. Tompkins @ the Gothic TheatreBy Marc Hobelman | May 31st, 2011 | No Comments »
Rather than cyber-bully his 7th grade nemesis, Paul F. Tompkins has used his social media prowess to change the face of comedy promotion. By letting regional fans gather on Facebook, Tompkins lets the legions come to him whenever they’re ready. Friday’s show at the Gothic was booked this way and so unlike most bow-tie-clad comedians, he had the foreknowledge that the crowd was going to be unflinchingly friendly.
Tompkins had no opener. It wasn’t needed since audience had been warmed up for weeks on his material from podcasts and other outlets he frequents. Instead he was introduced by the disembodied voice of Andrew Lloyd Webber, one of his many characters from improv shows like Comedy Bang Bang (formerly Comedy Death Ray). Tompkins quickly bounded on stage in his pinstriped suit and curly mustache. The situation was 100% on his terms. He felt perfectly comfortable poking fun at the Mile High City for a split second and then launched into about 20 minutes of riff after short-attention-span riff. He would comment on something ridiculous in a silly, old-timey voice and seem to suddenly be caught off-guard by his reaction. He would lampoon his own character voice and then create a strange time-traveling doppelgangers within an inner monologue situation. It was silly fun, just like the crowd-sourced crowd expected.
Tompkins’ prepared material detailed his arrival at this point in his life. Using long anecdotes punctuated by sub-stories and asides, he got through getting into trouble as a kid, crappy first jobs, chasing the comedy dream in L.A., embarrassing himself in front of Hollywood elite and finally running amok behind the scenes at his former VH1 shows. The slower, more deliberate storytelling worked. It was a biographical, less scatterbrained Eddie-Izzard-style set with some back-referencing, but mostly just silly delivery of bizarre anecdotes. It differed slightly from his other “Let me tell you about the time I…” bits that have more punch, but aren’t connected. While there weren’t many points where the audience was howling, the entire set (about an hour) was polished and garnered consistent laughs.
Marc Hobelman makes websites at The Denver Post, tweets pictures of his cat and is a regular contributor to Reverb.
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