Review: The Week Ahead April 1 - 7

paul f tompkins

When sketch combo Pappy's announced that their 2012 Edinburgh show was called their Last Show Ever I wondered if this was not entirely a joke. After making a big splash as Pappy's Fun Club in the late noughties with their distinctive, deceptively sophisticated brand of childish yet fiendishly self-knowing humour they had started to tread water. Maybe they were going to, sob, call it a day

The loss of a member a few years ago and the shortening of their name tightened up the act but hadn't necessarily made it any funnier. Until Last Show Ever, that is, which brilliantly drew together all the things they do so well, from high energy irreverence to uncontrollable corpsing to lo-fi costumes and added an extra topping of poignancy and mucking about. It picked up a Foster's Comedy Award nomination and in a less heated year could have easily won. A BBC3 series, Secret Dude Society, is in the pipeline and great things are expected. Don't let me down guys. Not so much their last show ever as their Best Show Ever and a lengthy London run starts at the Soho Theatre tonight (Monday).

In 2012 Rob Delaney came over to the UK and sold out the Soho Theatre having built up his fan base via Twitter, this year it is the turn of another lesser known American, Paul F Tompkins (above) to show that the modern stand-up comedian does not need to slog around the clubs for years to cement their reputation. Nor do they need to look boring – Tompkins likes to wear dapper suits and occasionally a bow tie onstage, like some Ron Burgundy-ish time-travelling vaudeville throwback.

Tompkins has done his fair share of slogging over the years of course, as well as bits of TV with the likes of David Cross, but fame came faster when in 2011 Rolling Stone voted The Pod F Tompkins podcast as number one in the Podcasts of the Moment chart. The recordings are a spin-off of his long-running Los Angeles club which has featured guests including Jack Black and Zach Galifianiakis. This is very much comedy from the weird zone, a mix of whimsical autobiographical tales of haunting his own house with discussions on the merits of peanut brittle. Wacky, but immaculated dressed.

Live comedy is so big these days it is starting to fracture into various different sub-disciplines, offering something for all tastes. There have been dedicated impro nights for a while, but there are now club nights just for pun fans and next month London launches the first ever sketch comedy festival

And then there are the Musical Comedy Awards, which demonstrate that in the post-Bill Bailey/Tim Minchin world there is a healthy appetite for a combination of gags and snappy tunes. This year's fifth final at The Bloomsbury Theatre on Friday, which I'm co-judging, features some of the best rising stars in comedy, plus established names Isy Suttie and the Brett Domino Trio showing how it should be done.


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