On Stage

Papa, Do Preach

Comedy Central stalwart stops by the Skagit


Tom Papa is one of those guys who is always going to remind people of someone else. He looks a little bit like a more attractive John C. Reilly, but there’s something about him that calls to mind the more serious actor Ed Harris (don’t ask me what). Even to those that don’t know anything about him, his face probably brings to mind someone they know.

In other words, the standup comedian is a bit of an everyman, and that’s probably what makes him so interesting to watch. Just when audiences think they’ve got him pigeonholed, however, his quick wit and laid-back demeanor are apt to surprise.

When the Los Angeles-based Papa stops by the area July 19-20 for two shows at Bow’s Skagit Valley Casino Resort, those who’ve been fans of the late night talk show and Comedy Central stalwart can see him in person—as can those who are willing to take a chance on someone who they’ve never heard of, but who looks awfully familiar.

For those who are already onboard with his comedic preaching, you likely already know standup is just one of the many ways Papa pays the bills. In addition to his 20-plus years of making audiences laugh on stages throughout the country—headlining his own shows and touring with the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, and many others—he’s, among other things, had recurring roles on television shows such as The New Adventures of Old Christine, made appearances in films such as Analyze This and The Informant, is currently the host of a Sirius/XM radio show featuring in-depth interviews with other comedians, Come to Papa, and lent his voice and writing talents to the DreamWorks animated feature Bee Movie.

Although Papa’s Wikipedia page notes that his “clean but cutting comedy has earned him the respect of fans and comedians alike,” don’t come to this weekend’s shows thinking he’s a Pollyanna with a microphone. He may not use top-tier swear words or talk about his sexual escapades, but Papa’s comedy isn’t without an edge.

For example, in a recent performance he was talking, quite earnestly, about the fact that he often feels as though he doesn’t quite fit in.

“There is no fitting in,” he noted. “Life is a pair of skinny jeans and you are a big fat-ass. It’s uncomfortable being a human being. No one likes you. No one wants to be friends with you after the age of 10. Don’t worry about it. That’s the way it goes…We don’t get to be happy all the time. Lower the bar. You’re a grownup, you get one day a year. Happy birthday.”

And although a lot of his subject matter focuses on the foibles of being a family man, that doesn’t mean Papa isn’t delving into the darker aspects of having a wife and kids. He admits he loves his spouse, but he may also point out that when he’s heard one of her stories for the gazillionth time, he fantasizes about burying her in the backyard. He also refers to his kids going after a bag of M&M’s as being akin to “goats at a petting zoo” and isn’t afraid to admit he likes to mix a martini (or three) into the joys of parenting. 

There’s no telling what Papa’s subject matter will be when he headlines the Skagit shows this weekend, but rest assured that once you spend some time in the same room with him, you’ll be waiting expectantly to hear what he says next. After that, you can figure out who exactly it is that he reminds you of.

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