The Pod F. Tompkast

The following is the fourth entry in a series of articles covering the booming comedy podcast scene. For the purpose of explanation, a podcast is a program-driven form of digital media (audio or video) released episodically by download through web syndication.

“It’s nighttime on the internet” and audiences are invited to sit back in their favorite comfy chair, sip from their favorite drink, and experience the “Pod F. Tompkast.” Comedian Paul F. Tompkins, a frequent guest on numerous comedy podcasts, decided to launch his own a year ago and it’s become one of the most entertaining programs on the web. Released on the first of every month, the show is a structured like a classic radio program, as Tompkins greets his listeners over a relaxing piano accompaniment by composer Eben Schletter. What follows is Tompkin’s unique brand of comedy broadcasting.

Tompkins, always dapper in appearance, has been doing stand up and improv for over two decades. His first big break was writing and performing in the influential HBO sketch show “Mr. Show with Bob and David.” In 2004, he was a frequent contributor to VH1’s mockery to pop culture program “Best Week Ever.” He would later transition to host when the network reformed the program in 2008 but it only it lasted another year. Since then, Tompkin’s has been touring the country, releasing stand up albums, and hosts a comedy and variety show every month at the Largo at the Coronet theater in Los Angeles.

Over the course of his career, Tompkins has built up his own comedic persona that he’s been able to transfer it to on his own podcast. Each episode features three segments. First, excerpts from “The Great Undiscovered Project” are aired, whereby a series of fake phone calls occur between any one of the exaggerated versions of B-list celebrities Tompkins has voice-impersonated over the years. They include rapper/actor Ice-T, actor John C. Reilly, reality show star Buddy “Cake Boss” Valestro” and legendary composer Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber. Next, Tompkins plays taped sketches from his monthly live show, which feature guests such as Saturday Night Live’s Tim Meadows and Maya Rudolph, and actor Justin Kirk (“Weeds”). The podcast concludes with an entertaining phone call conversation with friend and fellow comedian Jen Kirkman (“Chelsea Lately”). These conversations usually consists of Kirkman describing funny anecdotes from her personal life or her childhood. Over the course of the podcast, Tompkins is speaking directly to the listener and often times goes off in absurd ramblings.

While most podcasts tape an episode a week, Tompkins uses the free time he has during his busy touring schedule to craft out each episode’s structure. Yet, some of the funniest moments come during the improvised ramblings Tompkins gets himself into as he’s speaking to himself inside the recording studio. The podcast celebrated its first anniversary last month by taping its twelfth episode in front of a live audience, including a sketch with comedy actress Judy Greer and a live conversation with Jen Kirkman in person. While previous episodes provide a sense of intimacy with Tompkins and the listener, it’s just as rewarding as hearing Tompkin’s comedy play out to an amused crowd. Tompkins announced that episode twelve will be the season finale while he will take a brief hiatus as he begins to plan out the next phase of his show. Yet, the first twelve episodes have cultivated fans and acclaim. Rolling Stone magazine recently named “The Pod F. Tompkast” as the number one comedy podcast.

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