Tommy Pope returns to the Main Line this week to showcase his witty repartee on stage. The Drexel Hill native, whose comedy pokes fun at the region, will headline a night of standup Aug. 14 at Ambler’s Act II Playhouse.
Pope began his career at the Helium Comedy Club in Philadelphia, when his brother signed him up for a slot in 2008. “I was 28, working in advertising, and I’d just left engineering,” says Pope. “I was miserable in every job I took, and I knew I wanted to pursue something creative.”
Three years later, Pope was named Philly’s Phunniest. “Helium Comedy Club is by far the greatest,” he says.
Pope’s birth name, Papa, was already taken by another comedian, which proved problematic for managers, fans and even family members. Pope’s mom once saw a billboard for a show by the other Tommy Papa and mistook it for her son. “I had to come up with something unique that I felt connected to, identity-wise, and that sounded the same,” he says.
Over the years, Pope has made appearances on Last Comic Standing and Funny or Die. He even did a sketch with Steve Martin on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. Pope is currently starring on Delco Proper, a Comedy Central web series. He co-created the program with fellow area native, John McKeever, drawing on their experiences growing up in the Philadelphia suburbs.
“No one’s ever done a show about Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs,” says Pope. “We just wanted to make an affiliation with our hometown—it’s so much more specific, in terms of culture and attitude, than Philadelphia. We thought it would be a perfect opportunity to expose the blue-collar opinions of men and women from the area.”
The genesis for Delco Proper was “The Real Househusbands of Philadelphia,” a multi-part sketch created with his troupe, Bird Text. In addition to spotlighting the signature Delco accent, the sketch (somewhat playfully) alludes to the general racial homogeneity of the region, not to mention our obsession with sports teams and musicians.
Audiences can expect just that sort of humor—and a dose of the unforeseeable—at Pope’s Ambler shows. “I’m always unpredictable, both purposely and accidentally,” he says. “I like to talk to the crowd, tell some jokes, do some weird things. Every show should be different.”
Tommy Pope performs at 8 and 9:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14, at Act II Playhouse, 56 E. Butler Ave., Ambler. Call (215) 654-0200, or visit www.act2.org.