Comedian Paul F. Tompkins doesn't play in comedy clubs anymore. He could pack them in if he wanted to, but the star of Fuse network's No, You Shut Up! knows all too well that "as many nice club owners as there are, there are 55 as many horrible club owners," he says. Suffice it to say he got burned.
"I had a club once cancel a week of shows, but didn't tell me. I found out from a guy who worked in the kitchen there who wrote to me on MySpace," he says laughing.
The anecdote sounds just like the opening to his act — casual and self-deprecating with a hint of absurd, all packaged in a tailored suit — pocket square, cufflinks, and all.
But as we said, Tompkins, who brings his sarcasm and smart look to Theatre 99 June 22 for seven shows, doesn't have to futz with places called Chuckle Hut and Snickerz anymore. He's come a long way from his first foray into stand-up at age 17 and the day jobs that floated him along the journey. Jobs like working at a video store where he didn't steal money, but Betamax tapes to stave off boredom and self loathing. "I was no common thief you see. I was a gentleman bandit," he says in his Comedy Central special Laboring Under Delusions.
Performing in the Holy City next week with improv buds Superego is a decidedly better gig. "This is like the greatest working vacation ever," he says speaking from Los Angeles. But it's not his first visit or performance here. Following his marriage to Sullivan's Island native, actress Janie Haddid in 2010, Tompkins has become a frequent T-99 guest. His last trip here was promoting Delusions. "I believe the title of the article in the City Paper for that show was 'Comedian Rags on Wife,' which was an unfair representation," he says "It was a loving tribute to my wife." To be fair, the mustachioed comedian has been known to riff on his love, once doing a bit on Conan all about Haddid's panicked driving. Give it a Google.
But his Charleston visit with Superego leaves the matrimonial jokes aside and opts for one part stand-up, one part improv. Superego, made up of comedians Jeremy Carter and Matt Gourley with regular contributors Mark McConville and Jeff Crocker, is an audio podcast where Tompkins is a frequent guest. The show pretends to be a collection of on the phenomenon of megalomaniacal personality disorder. What you get in the Superego Clinic for Analytical Pscience™ podcast is a series of hilarious sketches, from a kooky tour of the Smithsonian to a tent revival wherein Pete Sampras is seeking a cure for tennis elbow. In the skit, a series of characters approach a Reverend: "I have dolphin papilloma virus," says one. Another, "I'm Carl Swampwater and I'm 100 percent deaf if my left ear and 99 percent deaf in my right ear." To which the Rev replies in an exaggerated Southern accent, "In the healing power of the hematights, the hermaphrodites, and the lucidites I give you the power of hear again in the name of Gawd."
The Superego Clinic for Analytical Pscience™ podcast will come to life at Theatre 99. "It's a miracle to me every time that it works, to get those characters and those situations live," says Tompkins. A miracle of pscience, that is.