Comedian Tom Papa has spent a long time in the business of laughs, but his talent doesn't start and end on the stand-up stage. Not by a mile. A well rounded TV and film guy, he's made waves as host of “The Marriage Ref,” brought El Superbeasto to life in the animated feature The Haunted World of El Superbeasto, was tapped to play Ray Arnett in the HBO hit Behind the Candelabra, and he pulls some of the biggest names to chat it up with him on his SiriusXM show “Come to Papa.” Of course he has several successful stand-up specials under his belt and if you haven't had the chance to see one the funniest comics around in an hour long format, on July 26th the game is about to change for you when Tom's special “Freaked Out” premieres on EPIX. With a somewhat crass (yet somehow clean) observational style, you are about to see why everyone loves them some Papa.
OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): I'm a huge Opie & Anthony fan and I love when you are on the show. One of my favorite episodes ever was when you guys broke down that “Accidental Racist” song. It was seriously priceless.
Tom Papa: Well thank you! Oh yeah! That was hilarious. [Laughs.] Those guys are great. Today I went in to their live show from Montreal and they had a bunch of guys hanging out for the show. They also had a live audience so it was really a great time. Joe DeRosa talked for a good half-hour about falling in love with a tranny so, everything was pretty much normal.
Ha! Joe's starting to worry me. It's crazy that you are kind of comedically twisted but yet, you're pretty clean. Is it hard to walk that line when you are in a room full of filthy mouths?
Yeah you know, today was one of the only times where it got really raw because all of those other comics where there. You know, Robert Kelly, DeRosa, and Kurt Metzger were there. When I come in normally, it doesn't really go down that path so much. I just participate in the way that I normally would. I don't really talk that way or get into too dark of stuff anyway so my place is just a little bit more of, wait, what are you talking about? [Laughs.]
Well I give you mad props, you're fantastic every time you go on. So how was it working on “Behind the Candelabra” and did you realize it was going to be such a big hit?
I felt like it was going to be something very special as soon as I showed up. It was almost like I wanted to tell everybody on the first day, you gotta see what's going on here! I mean, Dan Aykroyd, Matt Damon, and Michael Douglas? Those guys are just so amazing and there were all of these costumes and we're in all of these scenes together…and Steven Soderbergh directed so you just knew it was going to look cool. It was one of the only times where you really wanted people to come out because you just couldn't explain what they were about to see.
Did you get to keep anything from the set?
I did! I got some of his jackets. The one thing I really wanted were those paisley pants I was wearing but it turned out that they were rented. But Soderbergh sent me everything else so I have a lot of fancy scarves now. [Laughs.]
Hysterical. You've had some pretty huge names on your SiriusXM show "Come to Papa.” Do you have a "wish list” of guests you still want?
Yeah there are always more people, which is amazing. You'd think after a year-and-a- half I'd have gone through everybody but there are still a ton of people. I'd like to have Eddie Izzard on, Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock…the list is kind of endless. I'm doing these live shows at the Village Underground which are really taking off. I write the whole show myself and my concept was to do this classic radio kind of thing with all standup comedians. Because when comedians are on stage, they're not going to just hangout, they're going to work for a laugh the whole time. The theory of putting them in sketches together really panned out with this show.
It's really great for the listeners, I can vouch for that! You've worked a bunch with Rob Zombie and I know he worked with you on your new EPIX special. Did you meet him back when you did The Haunted World of El Superbeasto or did you know him before?
Yeah the two of us worked on the concept and layout of the whole thing with Freaked Out. We became friendly a little before El Superbeasto but that was the first time we worked together. He asked me to do the voice and then we ended up writing it together. We really just clicked comedically and creatively. Then when I was doing my last special, we were talking about how we missed when comedy specials were like films and a little more unique so we decided to get creative. Then when I filmed the new special, we decided to do it again and he is really good at making it all happen. We figured since people were giving us money to do this special, we just wanted to have some more fun with it!
It seems like such a random pairing with you and Rob. I mean, if walked into a bar and saw you two sitting there, my mind would be blown.
[Laughs.] Yeah I know. But the common ground that we have is that we both really love putting on shows and love the celebration as well. We also are both creative so that's more common ground.
I know that sometimes comics have to change up their set for the area they're traveling to, is that something you have to think about when choosing material for a special?
I don't really change. There are certain times if I'm in a corporate environment I won't talk about certain issues. More than sexual issues, because I don't really talk about that stuff too much, but you don't want to talk about politics or something like that. For the special, it's just me and what I'm talking about now. I want to put it out in the exact way I'm doing it. I don't censor anything for that!
Tune in to see “Tom Papa: Freaked Out” on EPIX on July 26th at 7pm (PST). For more information check out www.EpixHD.com, www.TomPapa.com, tune in to “Come to Papa” on SiriusXM on channel 99, and follow him on Twitter: @TomPapa.