Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Read This: Comedians Paul F. Tompkins and Ben Schwartz talk shop

Illustration for article titled Read This: Comedians Paul F. Tompkins and Ben Schwartz talk shop

Who better to talk to a comedian than another comedian, someone who knows the craft from the inside out? That’s the premise of podcasts like Marc Maron’s WTF and Scott Aukerman’s Comedy Bang! Bang!, though those shows take considerably different approaches to the subject matter. Recently, Vulture had the bright idea of having Parks And Recreation graduate Ben Schwartz talk with Mr. Show veteran Paul F. Tompkins, just as Tompkins’ puppet-based political comedy show, No, You Shut Up!, was about to return for its fourth season on Fusion. Both Schwartz and Tompkins are closely associated with Comedy Bang! Bang!, and their conversation revolves around podcasting, improvisation, Hamilton, and the potential minefield of reading YouTube comments. Schwartz seems prepared to take the conversation in a jokier direction, even employing some silly voices along the way, but Tompkins remains straightforward and earnest in his responses. Along the way, the article reveals some interesting tidbits about Tompkins, like the fact that he’s covered David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and that he is profoundly disappointed by his middle name, Francis.

What is really intriguing about the article is what it says about Tompkins’ own personal sense of humor. Though he respects shows about darker, more troubled characters, he says he is more inclined toward good-natured silliness. Pressed for examples of current shows that speak to him, he cites Billy On The Street and Undateable. “Man, I love live television,” Tompkins enthuses. Eventually the conversation turns, as it must, to Hamilton. While Schwartz is an enthusiastic fan of the musical, Tompkins admits that he has not actually seen the show, nor has he listened to the soundtrack. But he does have an idea for a quasi-cover album.

I was talking to my friend, and we had an idea that I would put out a version of Hamilton just based on the song titles and me guessing what the song was about. I would completely make it up. I would do it with just a metronome for timing and get someone, maybe Eban Schletter, to put music behind it.


This is an idea Schwartz fully endorses: “I would like to get behind this in any way I can.” Fans of Tompkins and/or Hamilton are advised to keep their fingers crossed.