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Comedian Tom Papa, head writer for 'A Prairie Home Companion,' to perform at the Fine Arts Center

November 2, 2017 Updated: November 3, 2017 at 11:19 am
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Tom Papa, head writer for "A Prairie Home Companion," performs at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College on Nov. 3.

Tom Papa doesn't sit still for long. The 48-year-old stand-up comedian splits his time between New York City and Los Angeles, where his wife and kids are. And flying wherever his stand-up act takes him.

He has "a few" things going on professionally right now: He recently was named head writer for "A Prairie Home Companion;" he has a book called "Your Dad Stole My Rake" coming out in June; he hosts a weekly podcast "Come to Papa" on SiriusXM; he sometimes appears on the drama "The Knick" on Cinemax; and he tours the country doing his stand-up act - along with other projects.

"I'm trying to take up meditation," he said with a chuckle during a phone interview from his home in L.A. last week.

Papa will perform stand-up comedy at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College on Friday.

It's not always easy making heads or tails of such a busy schedule.

"My wife's always like, 'Where are you going?' You go to the airport, and you get on a plane, and then there's someone waiting to pick you up at the airport with a sign," he said.

Papa said he wanted to pursue comedy since his childhood in the small community of Park Ridge, N.J.

"I always wanted to be a comedian since I was a kid, standing in front of a class singing into a banana," he said. "When I got out of college, I just went to New York. If your friends paid admission (at a comedy club) and bought a drink, they gave you five minutes on stage. I had a lot of friends."

He landed his "dream job" on "A Prairie Home Companion" this season.

"I've admired the show since I was a kid. I just loved the storytelling and the music. The idea that I'm now in control of the comedy, the spoken word part of it, is just too much. And I get to appear on it once a week," Papa said.

Although comedy has been his mainstay for 20 years, "I've really started to realize that maybe I'm more of a writer than anything else," Papa said.

His set at the FAC will feature some new and some previous work.

Asked if he planned any Colorado-themed jokes during his local performance, Papa said, "I'm wondering if people are getting tired of the pot jokes. What I think is funny about Colorado is it's always listed as a great place to live. I know comedians who go there and never leave. But then they complain that the traffic's getting bad. I say, 'Stop telling everybody it's so great!'"

His comedic influences include George Carlin, for his dark comedy, and Steve Martin for the "silly, funny stuff."

Advice Papa would offer to an up-and-coming coming comic? "I would tell them that you have to write. Being funny kinda comes naturally, and then you have to develop your craft and be patient."

If he wasn't doing comedy, Papa ventured that he'd be writing, perhaps for a "really small community paper." No joke.

MICHELLE KARAS, THE GAZETTE, 476-1602, MICHELLE.KARAS@GAZETTE.COM

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