Remember how great Mr. Show was? And how nondescript and sort of forgettable that supporting player—the chubby one with the gap teeth—was? Well, now that guy—slimmed down and always impeccably dressed—is one of the best standup comedians (not to mention podcasters) in the world. (I’m not attributing Paul F. Tompkins’ hilariousness to his weight loss—just a descriptor.)
“My name is Paul F. Tompkins and I do Paul F. Tompkins-based comedy.” Thus Paul F. Tompkins introduces himself at the beginning of his new standup special “Crying And Driving,” in which the ever-dapper Tompkins (sporting a black velvet jacket and violet bow tie for the evening) continues his hot streak of mining personal history for hilarious anecdotes, impeccably told. Always possessed of a nimble, original mind, Tompkins has, in turning his self-effacing, deeply sensible gaze inward, become one of the best comic storytellers around. As he did in 2012’s“Laboring Under Delusions” (one of the funniest, most assured standup specials in years), “Crying And Driving” sees Tompkins holding himself up as an example of how not to be a functional adult, an assertion seemingly belied by his ever-natty appearance and showbiz success, but feelingly reinforced by his perpetual bemusement at his own failings. (And those of others, naturally.)
Trust me, his standup is funnier than that description. But that only makes sense—we’re really doing different things here.