In case you haven’t already heard the news, 2011 Philly’s Phunniest Person Tommy Pope has been selected to perform as a New Face at the prestigious 2012 Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal. We caught up with Tommy to ask him some questions about his recent achievement.
WITOUT: First of all, congratulations on being selected as a New Face for the 2012 Just for Laughs Festival. What was the audition process like?
Tommy Pope: Thanks buddy. It was fun. Auditions are fun, right? Like contests! Comedy contests are fun too, right? Do you like murder? Murder is fun. So, there were 3 rounds of auditions in NY and it lasted around 6 months. The tough part is that you don’t receive any feedback after your set. You just hope to get a callback months later. But receiving the invitation is worth all the stress. And blood.
WO: How did you choose your audition set? Did you pick your favorite jokes, or try to pick a set that had a theme, or that would best represent your own specific voice? Did you change it for each callback?
TP: I learned a lot about constructing a short set from performing in Philly’s Phunniest. I’d say it’s a mixture of all those things. Its my favorite jokes that have a theme as well as represent my voice. Btw, I would never say that last sentence out loud for fear of turning into an actual asshole. Throughout the 6 months I definitely wanted to change it. I have newer bits that I enjoy telling but you know the previous round worked so I just added chunks and tags.
WO: When did you find out that you were selected? Was it hard to keep the big news a secret?
TP: I found out May 30th, 4:07 pm. Seriously, I took a screen shot. It was terrible holding it in. It’s my first credit and you can’t share it with anyone. I didn’t even tell loved ones outside of the comedy circle for fear that they would post it on my Facebook wall. The last thing I need is my Aunt Mimi fucking up my dream with a simple post like, “Your Mom told me about Canada, you should bring a girl over for cake. Neil’s cutting the lawn.”
WO: Since knowing that you’re going to Montreal, have you made any changes in the way you approach stand-up in preparation for the festival?
TP: Not a thing. If it ain’t broke…keep drinking every night till your anxiety makes you question your existence.
WO: Have you talked to any other comedians who may have been New Faces in recent years for any pointers or advice? If so, what are some of your favorite words of wisdom?
TP: I’ve spoken to a few but not about advice, just well wishing. The most memorable quote came from Mark Normand, who described Montreal as “Comedy Disneyland”.
WO: Historically, Montreal has been a place where many comedians have arrived as unknowns and left with television deals. Do you have any pitches in your brain in case they come a-knocking?
TP: I have a pitch idea about a sitcom where John McKeever and I get married and make videos from the comfort of our own Jet-skis. It’s (loosely) based on real life.
WO: What’s next for you? Do you have any specific plans or goals for the near or long-term future?
TP: I plan on doing standup and continuing to make quality videos with BirdText. We have some great things in the pipeline. But we need money. Seriously. Do you like murder?
You can see Tommy perform at Helium Comedy Club hosting and closing the Philly’s Phunniest Person Contest. He also produces sketch comedy videos as a member of Bird Text.