Tom Papa didn't score big ratings with his NBC sitcom Come To Papa, but fans of stand-up comedy should take that title seriously and check out one of his sets at Friday's (November 2) Just For Laughs Comedy Tour.
The ultra-likeable Papa delivers his observational, regular-guy jokes with enviable ease. No wonder Jerry Seinfeld hand-picked him to open his comedy tours.
Speaking of Seinfeld, Papa voices a few roles in Seinfeld's out-this-weekend film Bee Movie, and he also co-wrote (with Rob Zombie) and plays the title character in the adult animated flick The Haunted Movie Of El Super Beasto.
So remember that voice - and name.
Jerry Seinfeld picked you to open for him. What's it like working for one of the best in the business?
It's been life-changing. We've become tight friends since. My only goal now is to get to the point where he's opening for me.
How are you going to go about doing that?
I may have to drug him.
Have you learned anything touring with him and hanging out with him?
I learned how to work and carry yourself and stay out of trouble.
You seem to be having a lot of fun onstage. Is it always fun or is it work?
It's fun most of the time. If I'm in some tiny club in the middle of Cleveland on a Wednesday night and I'm opposite a basketball game, and there's a drunk guy in the crowd throwing french fries at you, that takes some of the fun out of it.
With a last name like Papa, did you know you were going to eventually be doing dad material?
I never thought my material would head in that direction. But maybe hearing the name over and over again had that effect.
How has marriage/parenthood affected your stand-up act?
I have to be careful that it doesn't devour my entire act. I write a lot about the human condition. But if you have a family around you, it's impossible to get through a day without witnessing something hysterical.
How has the Internet affected your career? I notice you're on MySpace.
It's given fans an incredible access to the artist. It's hard to picture, back in the day, Bill Cosby arranging for tickets for some guy in the middle of Idaho.
Do you get neurotic about how many MySpace friends you have?
I did at the beginning, but then I realized that nobody actually meets any of these people, so I stopped paying attention.
How did you and Rob Zombie get together to work?
He saw my stand-up, we hung out and kind of hit it off. I wear button-down shirts and talk about my kids, and he dresses like a warlock, but artists are artists. When you get together and start creating things, you realize you have a lot more in common. Once I started working with Rob, there were a lot more guys with fangs and cloaks showing up on my MySpace.
Additional Interview Audio Clips
On what comics do backstage:
On being on the road and this particular cross-country tour.