STORY WRITTEN BY MARGIE ROYAL
Tommy Pope, a stand-up comedian who grew up in Drexel Hill and recently created and starred in the new Comedy Central web series, Delco Proper, is headlining a Stand-Up Comedy night Friday at Act II Playhouse in Amber. Pope is a comedian, writer and actor. On stage, he blends observational humor with a wry, intelligent subtext. In 2012, he was named a New Face in the prestigious Montreal’s Just For Laughs Comedy Festival and just this year won the Big Sky Comedy Festival in Billings, Montana. He is co-founder and member of the Deer Prom comedy group which produces live shows and digital content which has been featured on VH1, NPR’s Fresh Air, Philadelphia Magazine and National Lampoon.
He’s also done voiceover work with Disney and was a featured character in the movie “Planes”. Look for him this season of “Sex Drugs and Rock and Roll” on FX. He also created and stars in the web series, “Delco Proper” on Comedy Central. He took time out from his busy schedule to answer the following questions:
You grew up in Drexel Hill. What school did you go to?
I went to St. Charles for grade school and Monsignor Bonner for high school.
How did you discover your gift for comedy – does it run in your family or was there a particular performer you saw that inspired you?
It definitely runs in my family but it also ran in all my friends growing up. We constantly busted each other’s balls at home then I’d go to school and it would be worse. I essentially was being bred for this job and I had no idea.
I didn’t know you could be a comedian for a career. I just thought the famous comics growing up like Prior, Carlin and Eddie Murphy were just famous people that happened to also be super funny so they asked them to talk for an hour and tape it. It sounds absurd, but there were no resources for standup as far as I knew in high school and college. Once Helium [Comedy Club] opened up in 2006, my older brother Bryan relentlessly pushed me to try an open mic. Just like everything else in life, I procrastinated and pushed him off thinking he’d get off my case and give up. He eventually just signed me up for an open mic and here I am. He’s the one I thank for all my success. He saved me from a miserable existence in a cubicle. He’s my god.
Performers often say they enjoy feeling the connection with the audience – is that true for you? Do you want to make them laugh or look at things from another point of view as well?
Yeah, I totally agree. It’s a wonderful feeling to create a unique point of view, get on stage and take a few hundred strangers along on the ride. When they laugh, it’s a bonus but when you’re in the middle of a joke or story and all you can hear is the buzzing of the mic, that’s the most beautiful sound for me. Obviously, it’s a rush to have them cracking up collectively but when they’re intently hanging on your words, waiting to release with laughter, that’s a truly special sound and the moment I look forward to.
Where do you get your material from and how do you think your Delco roots help you in this field?
I think most comedians have a heightened sense of awareness and tend to absorb situations in a different way from non-comedians. We’re always looking for an angle or strategy to work into our own perspective. I try to work on topics that make me laugh naturally.
The best advice I’ve read (not sure of the author) is to write what you find funny and be yourself. That way, nobody can claim you to be an imposter. I feel that’s one of the benefits of not studying comedy at a young age. You’ll see a ton of newer comics that are just Fanboys. They were obsessed with the art or a famous comedian and they end up sounding like a sh—-er version of them. My goal is to be a less sh—-y version of myself.
IF YOU GO: Act II’s Comedy Night is Friday, Aug. 14 at 8 p.m. ($20) & 9:30 p.m. ($10). The Emcee is Carl Boccuti; Featured Act is Pat House and Headliner is Tommy Pope. All stand-up comedy events contain adult content and the 9:30 p.m. show on Friday is a “blue show,” meaning there are no restrictions on content or language.