SLUMBER PARTY LIVE!!! with guest Paul F. Tompkins

Can you guys even imagine the pajama game this dapper gentleman is going to bring to the Slumber Party Live show, this Sunday, August 24th at The Virgil??! We can’t. Time to go shopping for some new jammies.

Confessions. Ghost stories. Pillow forts. Come! Tickets here.

So let's be real. The podcast is never coming back, right?


I’m really sorry for the delay. It will be worth the wait.


Kevin Winter / Getty Images

What’s your wallpaper on your phone and/or computer?

My laptop wallpaper is a nice green leather pattern, like you’d see on the benches in Parliament. You know, THAT. And my phone background is a nice blackwatch plaid. That seemed the most phone-y tartan to me.

When you walk into a bar, what do you typically order?

Beer or whiskey. I actually drink red wine the most these days, but there’s something truly disgusting about most bar wine. I didn’t drink wine for years because my only experience with it had been comedy club wine. Then, in my thirties, I went out to dinner at a nice restaurant and my friends ordered wine and it was good. I was stunned. Maybe the key is not wrapping the bottle in Saran wrap at the end of the night? And keeping the same bottle for two months? I don’t know, I’m no James Beard over here.

What’s the one word you are guilty of using too often?

I tend to say “Yeah” three times in quick succession when I am indicating to someone that I understand what I am hearing. “Yeahyeahyeah.” When I hear myself say it, I cringe, because it happens a lot, and also because it kind of sounds like, “Please shut up now.” Which is probably what I’m saying.

What is the last thing you searched for on Google?

The REAL killers (no results).

Who is the last person that called or texted you?

My wife. WHAT A LETDOWN, BUZZFEEDERS. Nothing against my wife, obviously, but of course that’s the last person who texted me. I wish I had a more prolific text relationship with several Twilight cast members, but it’s only once or twice a week.

What was the last awkward situation you were in and how did you handle it?

When I realized a popular website tricked me into writing a bunch of content for them. I responded by falling for it.

When is the last time you went to a theater?

Last spring. I was in London doing standup and on a day off I saw a play called Peter and Alice, starring Ben Whishaw and Judi Dench as the real-life inspirations for Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland, meeting in a bookstore. It was delightfully sad.

What TV show should everyone should be watching?

I love the Danish political drama Borgen, which is an excellent show with an amazing lead in Sidse Babette Knudsen as the Prime Minister of Denmark. Bonus: it’s subtitled, and sometimes a perfectly innocuous image will be be paired with a subtitle that accidentally renders the frame hilariously bleak. (see attached)

And what is your TV guilty pleasure?


What’s the first album you bought?

La Grande Storia del Rock, which had the Beatles on the cover, and so I thought it was a Beatles album. But one side was The Beatles backing Tony Sheridan on junk like “My Bonnie” and the other side was a bootleg of some Cavern Club set that sounded like someone was outside the Cavern Club holding a portable tape recorder up to a drinking glass which was being held up to a wall of the Cavern Club. I was in 8th grade, granted, but the copy on the album sleeve not being in English should have been a major tipoff.

What music are you currently listening to?

Dark Comedy by Open Mike Eagle and The Both by The Both.

What movie makes you laugh the most?

The Wrong Guy starring Dave Foley. You gotta check it out. So much great stuff.

What is the one food you cannot resist?

Pizza. Congratulations to pizza for being the Best Food of All Time for two hundred consecutive years!

What drives you absolutely crazy?


Pick one: Kittens or puppies?

Kittens. It’s a tight race, but kittens have the edge because puppies go through that biting thing where they gnaw on your hands when you try to pet them.

New York or Los Angeles?

Los Angeles. The end!

Comedy or drama?

To perform: comedy. To watch: drama.

Bacon or Nutella?

Bacon, although I do admire Nutella’s attempt to trick moms into thinking smearing some chocolate paste onto bread is somehow a healthy snack for your child.

’80s or ’90s?

They’re both pretty gross, but 80s pop music was just bananas. 80s it is!

Hannah Montana or Lizzie McGuire?


And finally: tell us a secret.


You can watch Paul’s series Speakeasy here and his latest episode (featuring Breaking Bad’s RJ Mitte!) right here.

A bad deal!


I’m way behind on my guest spotlights. I know you need your feed flooded and you need it flooded THICKLY. So here comes.

Tonight we’re going to check out three of the comedy guests. They are in the skits with me! Like how you’d want them to be.

This is a cool thing that I got to be a part of! Check it all out, all the way out!


The 66th Primetime Creative Arts Emmys are tomorrow. Wish us luck!


The 66th Primetime Creative Arts Emmys are tomorrow. Wish us luck!


Rest in Peace, Robin Williams

One of the first comedy albums I was ever given was “Reality… What A Concept.” I loved it. I loved “Mork & Mindy.” I even loved Robert Altman’s “Popeye.” Robin Williams meant a lot to me when I was a kid. I knew nothing of drug use or depression. It never occurred to me that comedians, these magical creatures that I worshiped, ever felt anything other than the serene satisfaction derived from making people laugh.

Eventually, I started doing standup myself, and I very quickly learned that comedians were all too human. There is no less sadness in the comedy community than there is in any other workforce; that is to say, jobs are jobs and people are people and no occupation makes anyone depression-proof. This both comforts and frustrates me.

Robin Williams made me laugh so many times. So many times. When I was a kid, having problems of my own, feeling unpleasantly different from the people who populated my world, I found sanctuary watching this guy on TV who was celebrated for being a weirdo, for being an oddball, for being silly. He was praised for having a mind that produced delightful absurdities with great speed. No one told him to be quiet. No one tried to make him act like everyone else. He was a hero to me.

I had occasion to meet him once, not too long ago, and he could not have been nicer or friendlier or calmer. He was just there to watch the show that was happening that night. He wasn’t trying to get on stage; he just — still — loved comedy.

I didn’t tell him any of the things I just wrote here. No doubt, he heard similar things from countless people over his decades-long career. And it’s a colossal shame that being a meaningful presence in the lives of many people, family, friends and strangers alike, isn’t an impenetrable bulwark against despair. It’s profoundly unfair that, if he couldn’t live forever, he couldn’t at least feel able to keep going for his allotted time. I know something of depression, and how bottomless and relentless and insurmountable it feels, but I have never known the unfathomable despair that Robin Williams must have felt. I can’t even begin to imagine it.

Robin Williams will live on in shadows and light and sound, at least. He will continue to comfort weird little kids (and odd adults, for that matter) with his performances, those who know his work today and those who have yet to be born, who may experience him ten, fifty, a hundred years from now. But this is cold comfort indeed.

There will be much celebration, in the coming weeks and months, of Robin Williams’ life and career. But perhaps the best tribute to him would be if we all reached out to the troubled people in our lives and let them know that we are here for them. Because Robin Williams was there for us.

Every month, the talented Liezl Estipona takes photos of Varietopia with Paul F. Tompkins at Largo at The Coronet. In addition to documenting the lineup ( and the secret fears of trumpet players), she snaps tons of action shots of the show in progress. Check them out here.


The next Varietopia is Saturday August 23rd, and tickets are on sale now.

Hey, when are the Narcissistic Grandma Awards this year? Because here’s your early frontrunner.

"Grandma’s… gone? B-b-but my birthday’s not for another four months! THAT FIVE DOLLARS IS ALREADY SPENT!"