the paul f. tompkins show

Backstage at the final episode of @midnight with my childhood friends, Brian Posehn & Mary Lynn Rajskub. At the very VERY end of the show, we were all crammed on the stage. I was standing next to Mary Lynn. An ancient memory popped into my head out of nowhere & I turned to her and referenced something insanely obscure from when we were both hanging out on the Mr. Show set, 20 years ago. Not even something from the show– just something from HANGING OUT. She was so flabbergasted she started tearing up. It’s nice to know people for a long time. Comedy has been very good to me.

‘Bajillion Dollar Propertie$’ Review: Reality TV is No Match for This Real Estate Parody, Which Gets Better as It Gets Weirder

It’s probably when Paul F. Tompkins (as Dean Rosedragon) sits in a dimly lit office room, backed by blaring thrash metal, that Season 3 of Seeso’s “Bajillion Dollar Propertie$” officially transcends parody.

Like a frog that doesn’t realize it’s being boiled as the water gets warmer, “Bajillion Dollar Propertie$” started as a simple skewering of Bravo and HGTV reality shows but gradually become its own beast, just by stepping up the absurdity. The result is a show that’s learned enough about its main characters to know when to throw everything out of the window.

Platinum Realty is home to some of the unluckiest and barely-qualified Realtors in the greater Los Angeles area and this season those employees wander even further out into the weird zone. While Season 1 focused on who would be made partner, and Season 2 was about their quest for a “Diamond Dealmaker Award” (culminating in a ceremony that weirdly predicted the ending of this year’s Oscars ceremony five months before it happened), the primary objective of Season 3 — ostensibly a group contest to write part of Dean’s memoirs — shuffles the deck even more than usual.

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Baxter and Andrew, attached-at-the-hip besties who ended last season at odds with each other, spend most of this season tackling their own real estate showings. (But not before one insane faux-brawl that lets Ryan Gaul and Drew Tarver really flex their physical comedy muscles.) Pure-intentioned and mostly oblivious Glenn opens the season in a condition slightly different than usual, something the season delights in returning to even as he’s back to normal.

Every time the show returns to the Platinum Realty offices, the show really finds its center. Breaking out from the conference room, the workplace antics that pepper this season — chaotic fire drills and upstart southern rock bands are just the beginning — show that “Bajillion Dollar Propertie$” doesn’t need to riff on real estate deals to be funny.

When the show does venture out into a seemingly endless list of multimillion dollar L.A. mansions, it meets a murderer’s row of comedy guest stars in the foyer. (One particular highlight from this season is a nameless, tracksuit-clad group of potential buyers, led by Lauren Lapkus and Mary Holland.) The idea that this string of clients show up to buy a house and are never seen or heard from again really lets “Bajillion Dollar Propertie$” give these one-off guests free rein. It’s a consequence-free cycle that lets the show keep its framework while churning on toward the next in the line of filthy-rich eccentrics.

And it’s still having fun with toying with the TV reality show basics: the obvious, recorded-after-the-fact confessional recaps, the neverending cymbal-scrape sound effects and the EDM-adjacent theme song that still continues to be a chair-dancing earworm. But the commission numbers that used to be a main motivation is now essentially a button to each sale, letting these characters’ quirks take center stage.

After 18 episodes and a largely unchanged central cast, the comedians at the heart of the show have a firm grasp on what makes these bumbling real estate agents tick. Mandell Maughan has fully tapped into Victoria’s simmering ruthless ambition. Chelsea Leight-Leigh (the best name-based joke in a show that thrives on them) has become the office’s conscience, giving Tawny Newsome a chance to play her with an extra level of incredulousness. Eugene Cordero as Dean’s biological son DJ brings a nice offsetting wrinkle to the endless chaos around the Platinum offices.

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As the figurative (and occasionally literal) heart of this show, Paul F. Tompkins continues to mold Dean Rosedragon into the craziest boss on the internet, fleshing out his impossibly wild backstory with the confidence of someone who may or may not have been the inspiration for “Eyes Wide Shut.” And even though this season features the Platinum head honcho out in Beverly Hills more often than usual, Dean at the office, with his giant ego and enormous cash reserve, has been the show’s true north. (Tompkins and Cordero manage to turn the process of recording an outgoing voicemail message into an instant-classic improv moment that might be the best thing the show has ever done.)

“Bajillion Dollar Propertie$” has always succeeded in taking the unrestrained id of reality show ridiculousness and paring it down into a recognizable package. When the third season ends on a surprisingly poignant note, it’s another example of the show continuing to test what it can get away with. After this eight-episode batch, there’s still a clear path for “Bajillion Dollar Propertie$” to continue outbidding itself. With Seeso downsizing its business model, let’s hope this show can find a new home.

Grade: B+

“Bajillion Dollar Propertie$” Season 3 is now available on Seeso.  

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Skyfall
Paul F. Tompkins
Skyfall

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

From Paul F. Tompkins and Friends Real & Fake, live at Largo at The Coronet, December 16, 2012

Since performing it at Christmastime two years ago, this has become a Christmas song to me forever.

Arrangement: Eban Schletter

Piano: Eban Schletter 

Bass: Brandon McCulloch 

Drums: Scott Rodgers 

Guitar: Todd Spahr

Keyboards: Peter Adams 

Trumpet: Jamie Adams 

Trumpet: Jordan Katz 

Tenor sax: James Eason 

Baritone sax: David Ralicke

Trombone: Gabriel Feenberg

“Skyfall” written by Adele and Paul Epworth

Original arrangement: Paul Epworth & J.A.C. Redford

Album art by Sara Pocock

See video here.

Sadie Doyle: Ohhh, a situation such as this magnifies all of the negative feelings we’ve ever had about each other to a murderous degree.

Frank Doyle: Oh, certainly. Every slight or disappointment becomes a churning tidal wave of anger and violence.

Sadie Doyle: We shall get back to you if we ever encounter one or the other.

—"Dead & Breakfast" (Beyond Belief, Thrilling Adventure Hour #30)

Fairytale Of New York
Paul F. Tompkins (feat. Aimee Mann)
Fairytale Of New York

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

From The Paul F. Tompkins Show, live at Largo at The Coronet, December 19, 2009

“Fairytale of New York,” featuring Aimee Mann

This is a super-sloppy cover of one of my favorite songs. Towards the end, “That was a disaster” refers to our attempt to waltz.

Melodica: Eban Schletter

Piano: Jebin Bruni

Guitar: Todd Spahr

Bass: Brandon McCulloch

Drums: Mark Rivers

“Fairytale of New York” written by Jem Finer & Shane MacGowan