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Comedy Is Like Making Pasta From Scratch (with Paul F. Tompkins)

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Mar 19, 2018
Comedy Is Like Making Pasta From Scratch (with Paul F. Tompkins)

This week's episode of The Sporkful podcast is up! Listen through the player, Stitcher, or Apple Podcasts. (And please subscribe!)

When Paul F. Tompkins was growing up in Philly in the 70s and 80s, Sunday night was Pasta Night. And every once in awhile, his mom would make the pasta from scratch:

"She had to get the hand-crank machine to put the dough in. And then you had to hang the pasta to dry. And that would be an all-day affair," the comedian recalls. "That was a big deal in our house.”

Paul's mom raised six kids, with no help from their dad. (He was there, but it was a very old-fashioned marriage.) Paul says as a result, his mom was often angry and always burnt out. And yet, she sometimes chose to make pasta from scratch.

"I suppose she found it satisfying," Paul tells us.


And Paul looks at his comedic process in a similar way. He often chooses the more difficult and elaborate joke, when an easier one might have sufficed. (Just listen to his six-minute stand-up soliloquy on peanut brittle, featured in part in this week's podcast.)

“When you know this [joke] is actually going to be a hard piece to relate to other people, but I know it's in there, it is always richly rewarding when I’m able to pull that off.”

Listen in to the full episode to hear Paul set the record straight on one of his most famous comedy routines, Cake v. Pie.

"Contrary to that piece of comedy, I do not have a strong desire to argue with people about which wins,” he admits.

Plus, Paul tells us why people should love Wawa (the Philly- and New Jersey-area convenience stores) as much as he does.

Interstitial music in this episode from Black Label Music:

- "Sun So Sunny" by Calvin Dashielle

- "Feel Real Good" by William Van De Crommert

- "New Old" by James Thomas Bates

Photos: Courtesy of Paul F. Tompkins

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