Seinfeld-mentored comic makes his mark with digital album, "Live In New York City"
By Michael Shashoua / Jester editor-in-chief
You may know Tom Papa as the host of “The Marriage Ref,” the Jerry Seinfeld-produced reality show, and for having been mentored and given breaks by Seinfeld. Papa’s largely clean observational humor is certainly influenced by Seinfeld and simpatico with his comedic style.
But Papa’s actual stand-up material may be a little more obscure than his public persona. “Live In New York City,” his new album available from Comedy Central as a digital download on Jan. 10, can change that. Papa was certainly an apt choice to host “The Marriage Ref,” as this album shows, because his material focuses on marriage and family, all with a Seinfeld-like tone and spin. Papa’s album is a good showcase for audiences to get to know his material.
Papa captures the absurdities of dating, marriage and having kids. “You choose one person to marry out of millions of people,” he says early in the set on this album, then pausing for effect, adds, “and they don’t like you that much either.” One of Papa’s favorite tools in depicting a scene in dating or marriage is a mock-feeble exhale of a laugh-slash-sigh, as he uses when describing the pressure of dating: “Are you happy with the seats? Did we park too far away,” Papa asks, rapid firing questions a nervous guy might be asking on a date, concluding with that wheeze sound. Contrast this to a married couple out for an evening, Papa says, where the husband’s refrain might be a terse, “You wanted to go out! Well, we’re out!”
As a performer, Papa makes himself personable and relatable, sharing his (mock) pain as a married man. “I dreamed as a boy of growing up to live … in a house full of girls,” Papa says, describing life with two daughters and two female cats in the house. This sets the stage for scenes later on the album that pay off.
The colors on Papa’s palette definitely and obviously include Seinfeld-like refrains, such as another observation on dating: “You convince her you’re not a rapist – that’s a special night,” and a weary married couple’s feelings about their kids: “‘I hate them.’ ‘I hate them too.’” Just imagine Jerry’s voice intoning those lines and you’ll get the idea.
It’s not completely all Seinfeld on Papa’s palette, though. He does render a Cosby-like scene later on this album on “King of the Castle,” in which he compares being a father in this generation to his father’s generation. Papa says his dad would fall asleep on the playroom floor and his mom would say “Don’t bother him! Get out of the house!” (in a monster-like growl).
With “Live In New York City,” Tom Papa makes his mark and establishes himself within the top ranks of comedians who work clean language-wise, but still can cover adult topics, like Brian Regan, as well as legends like Papa’s mentor.
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© 2005-2017 Michael Shashoua