Louis Peitzman: You recount a lot of odd jobs in Laboring Under Delusions. How have all the jobs you’ve taken throughout your life affected your current career?
Paul F. Tompkins: Man, I’m sure that like anybody else, I’m probably the sum total of my life experiences. If I’m smart and I’ve gained any wisdom, I have learned something from each of those experiences. The problem is, sometimes you don’t realize you’ve learned something until maybe years later.
But, you know, the day jobs I’ve had in pursuit of becoming a fulltime entertainer, I guess I’ve learned patience from them. To be able to do those jobs in the first place, knowing that I had this other thing that I really wanted to do — because I figured out at a young age what I wanted to do with my life. To recognize, “OK, well, I’m just doing this because it’s the responsible thing to take this day job, and earn money for myself while I’m waiting for show business to pay the bills.” Recognizing that that’s a thing a grown-up does—you have to be able to take care of yourself, you have to be able to feed yourself and clothe yourself and house yourself while you’re chasing this dream. You do what you gotta do, and that was a very important lesson for me early on.
This Q+A in Huff Post Comedy is pretty great because Louis Peitzman and Paul F. Tompkins are both very funny people, but also because Tompkins new comedy special has a lot of great lessons about what it means to earn money while pursuing your dreams. I watched the first episode of Girls this weekend and, felt really funny about it. I’m in my late twenties, and I’m pretty sure I was supposed to identify with those young ladies in some way because they are twenty-somethings trying to find their identities and make it in New York. But instead, I totally identified with Lena Dunham’s parents! That made me feel weird. They were like, “you need to be responsible and get a job that will pay the bills while you’re chasing your dreams,” and I clapped and nodded my head. And that’s exactly what Tompkins is saying here. Let’s all do what the grownups do.