The writers and producers of the popular VH1 show, Best Week Ever, will spend next Tuesday evening dishing gossip, telling jokes, and screening clips from their upcoming season. A panel moderated by self-proclaimed everything expert John Hodgman will tackle such serious issues as Adnan Ghalib’s “unfortunate facial hair,” with comedian Paul F. Tompkins, who was recently named the host of BWE, presiding over the event at the 92Y Tribeca. We caught up with Tompkins to chat about his new role on the show and his favorite stories ever, which involve komodo dragons and Tylenol — but not necessarily in that order. Read the full interview after the jump.
Flavorwire: Congrats on the new gig.
Paul F. Tompkins: Oh, thank you very much.
FW: Were you expecting it? Was that a surprise or was it in the works?
PFT: No. Well, you know it was (unbeknownst to me) in the works, but it coincided with a desire I had to do just such a thing. You know, at the beginning of last year I was thinking yeah, you know what? Here’s what I’d really like to do this year. I’d like to host a show that’s like BWE but is mostly me. It all worked out, you know, so much better than I ever could have imagined.
FW: How much input do you have in selecting the stories for the show?
PFT: I have a good amount of input. So far, there hasn’t been an instant where I had to say, “I think we should definitely cover this!” or “we should not talk about that at all!” It’s pretty communal in a good way.
FW: The news cycle can be volatile. What do you do if you get to the end of the week, and it was just so-so?
PFT: With the news, there’s either news or there isn’t. You can only make a non-news story so interesting, but with comedy, you can make fun of anything.
FW: Do you have a favorite story that you’ve covered?
PFT: God, the thing that always comes to mind is — this was a couple of years ago — there was a series of ads from Tylenol where they tried to personalize it, and they had these fake interviews with people where they talked about how much they loved working at the “Tylenol factory” — how much Tylenol has been an important part of their families. The commercials were so earnest, and you know, it’s Tylenol, so it’s ridiculous. That’s been one of my favorite things. I think my favorite thing since then — this guy Rom Whittaker who is some sort of nature documentarian did this show called The Dragon Chronicles, where he goes and checks out monitor lizards and komodo dragons, and these animals really hate him. It seems that he’s very bad at his job. He gets close to this water monitor lizard, which is whipping the hell out of him with its tail. He actually says to it, “Hey, come on guy. You hate me. I don’t know what your problem is.” Then at one point a komodo dragon is chasing after him, and he starts running away saying, “I didn’t do anything.” It’s like insane! That’s the stuff I really love.
FW: What can we expect from Best Evening Ever at 92Y in Tribeca?
PFT: We’re going to be, in addition to performing [stand-up], talking about the show and how it’s made. You know, just kind of giving people an idea of what it’s like to be here.
FW: John Hodgman’s moderating. Did you have a meeting to hash out who will do what?
PFT: We had an arm-wrestling competition, which is how John and I settle everything. He’s wiry. You don’t realize that he has very wiry arms. He’s always wearing tweed jackets, but underneath his arms are like bands of steel. Moderating means asking questions and getting other people to ask questions. Hosting just means telling people things, and that’s why I like to have that role.