In the last couple of years, comedian Tom Papa has starred alongside some of the biggest names in dramatic film, including Michael Douglas and Matt Damon in the HBO film Behind The Candelabra and Clive Owen in the Cinemax series The Knick. Spoiler alert: Neither of those titles is classified as “comedy,” so to see Tom Papa (his name is one that I have to say first and last every time) back in his natural habitat – alone on stage in front of a crowd with nothing but a microphone as his weapon – is refreshing and normal and sorely needed in our current social climate.
In his fourth comedy special, Human Mule, Tom Papa brings a new hour of humor and life advice to Cleveland. A great comedian finds humor in the mundane parts of daily life, and Tom Papa kicks off the hour-long escape from reality by congratulating the audience for not canceling their date that night – “You made a plan for yourself and stuck with it! You didn’t cancel!” – and soon moves on to the unique panic when you don’t know the directions to the bathroom in a restaurant. You find yourself nodding (and laughing) along throughout the whole thing, which reminds me a lot of another comedian: Jerry Seinfeld. And, of course, that only makes sense since Tom Papa was discovered by Seinfeld in the early 1990s.
If nothing else, Human Mule is worth a watch just to get Papa’s perspective on life – a gentle reminder to “take it down a notch,” as he says at various points. It takes a talented comedian to tell an audience they’ve pretty much maxed out on their success simply based on the fact they are at a comedy show and still get laughs (a statement he certainly does not exclude himself from). Tom Papa’s charm on stage comes from his relatable, charming demeanor – not so different than the likes of Louis C.K. with the “life is hard and disappointing” approach, giving you the overwhelming feeling of unity in something totally mundane: It’s not just me! He has no idea what to do with his kids’ math homework, either!
With the state our world is in, it’s an extreme understatement to say we all need a little laughter in our lives. Sure, that won’t fix your daily problems but it doesn’t hurt to take an hour off from arguing with strangers about fill-in-the-blank-social issue you’re posting about on Facebook. Tom Papa sums it up best: What else are you gonna do?
Don’t miss the premiere of Tom Papa: Human Mule on December 9 at 8pm ET on EPIX.