The Gauntlet: 50 Questions with Paul F. Tompkins

Photo by Paul F. Tompkins

Photo by Paul F. Tompkins


In lieu of a real interview, we sent 50 questions
to Paul F. Tompkins and told him to answer as many
as he could and that regardless of how far he got,
we'd publish all of them.

We abbreviated your name in internal emails as PFT. Do you ever refer to yourself as PFT?

When I talk about myself in the third person, it tends to be more along the lines of, “His Excellency.”


How about PYT?

How ABOUT it?!


You know, like the Michael Jacko song?

I DO like the Michael Jacko song!


You probably get that PYT thing a lot, don’t you?

Uhhh. Not at all! What fun.


Just so you know, regardless of your answer, we will consider you a PYT.

Let’s move on.


If you had a nickname that the press gave you, what would it be?

Up to the press to decide? I’m sorry, I’m trying to follow your question 
but you’re asking me to read the minds of the Fourth Estate.


What would you have to do to end up in the tabloids?

Be known by more than 100 people? THIS OUGHTTA DO IT!


You were once on a show called DAG. What was it like working 
with David Alan Grier?



Are you currently wearing your trademark suit?



How many hats do you wear?

Only as many as would make me tall enough to go on rides.


How do you look so goddamn sharp?

Watch your tone. Also, tuck in your shirt.


Define sartorial and use it in a sentence. 

“Sartorial” refers to matters of clothing, as in, “I know ‘sartorial’ relates to clothing in some way, but I’m not sure, so could you define it for me?”


Are you, or have you ever, been a wearer of tank tops?

I have no occasion to enter tanks, so no.


Gotta let those guns breathe, right?

... Sure.


Because they’re hot?



Who’s got the sexiest arms in Hollywood?

Whoever wears the longest sleeves, because they’re clearly trying to 
maintain order by concealing them.


What do the words “Man, it’s brutal out there” mean to you?



How can one make talking about the weather more interesting?

Act like you made it happen: “Sorry about the rain today. My hand slipped.”


We’re covering a lot of family topics in this issue. Mind if we ask you 
about your family?

I dare you to.


F. Thompkins: That’s a name of Hispanic descent, correct?

Maybe. I’m no expert, though, because my name is TOMPKINS.


Do you know what your parents did before you were born?

Yes, I would watch them from heaven while I was waiting to be born.


How did they ever live without you?



If they’re reading this, and we assume they are, what would you want to tell them here and not in person?

“I love you.”


What are your thoughts on sisters?



What are your thoughts on the sisters? 

I can only respond by swiveling my head on my neck like crazy.


Aunts: Overrated? Underrated?

Well, they’re no uncles.


Do you pronounce the word “aunt” as “ant” or “awnt”?

I say “ain’t,” like Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry, R.F.D. 


If you could institute an entirely new pronunciation of the word aunt, what would it be?



What does motherhood mean to you?

Let’s get this party started!


Anybody can get a gun but it takes a man to be a father, right?

It’s not really a question if you just add “right” to the end, is it?


Rank your family members. Go. 

Okay, I went and did it.


What’s your Thanksgiving like?

Revelation 4:4.


What’s your favorite Thanksgiving memory with your family?

We only have one shared memory — the time that scientist tried 
to fuse our consciousnesses together.


What question are you asked most at family gatherings?

“When are you going to appear in The Occasional? Until you do, 
we consider you a failure, right?”


How would you explain podcasts to the very elderly?

Slowly but concisely.


How do they explain paintings to you?

LOTS of pointing and grunting.


Do you have, or are you currently having, any children?

I don’t have any kids ... that I participate in the lives of! [Up top]



I don’t need to deplete my candy budget catering to unsophisticated palates.


What would you tell your daughter, Abigail, if you had a daughter 
named Abigail?

“I’m just going out for a pack of cigarettes.”


Leno or Letterman … to have as your dad?



Would you like to stop these questions? You can if you’d like. 

Fuck you.


Let’s get to the hard-hitting questions: You see someone who you’re 
pretty sure is Hitler, but he’s walking a real cute dog. What do you do?

I march right up to that dog and let him know EXACTLY who’s holding his leash. Then watch them fight.


What would you tell Eric Clapton when you meet him in heaven?

“I coveted my neighbor’s wife, too, but here we both are!”


Eric Clapton: Dead or alive?

Alive, please? I am uncomfortable giving the kill order on Clapton.


Are you sure?

No. Take him down.


Who’s on your bucket list?

The bucketiest people I can think of! Lots of folks with chins or 
beards that look like handles.


In terms of hot cereal, you a Farina or Cream of Wheat man?

I like to do a hot cereal “suicide” with both Farina and Cream of Wheat, with a little McCann’s Steel-Cut Irish Oatmeal and some gruel. 


Speaking of, what do you think of that Cream of Wheat man they 
have on the box?

I LOVE his hat.


Which Vacation movie is your favorite: Christmas Vacation or Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure?



White pants: what’s the story there?



This article was originally published November 2013