When Tom Papa arrives in Detroit Lakes at the end of this week for his Valentine's Day show at the Historic Holmes Theatre, it will be his first visit here, he says — but he's already got a handle on what to expect.
"I hear it's cold up there," the comedian joked at the start of a recent interview with the Tribune.
Papa, who makes his permanent home in Los Angeles, says he's done shows "all over Minnesota," but has yet to step foot in Detroit Lakes until now.
"Ever since I joined the 'Prairie Home Companion' family I've started getting more and more dates in the Upper Midwest," he said, adding jokingly, "My agent, from the warm comfort of his office in January, likes to send me to places he would never go (i.e., because of the cold)."
Though Papa may be unfamiliar with this particular region of Minnesota, many who live here have undoubtedly heard of him — because his name is everywhere as of late.
There is his Netflix comedy special "You're Doing Great," which premiered Feb. 4. The nationally syndicated radio show "Live From Here," where he is both a writer and regular performer. A daily radio show, "What A Joke With Papa And Fortune," airing every Monday-Thursday on Sirius XM’s Netflix Channel. A daily podcast, "Come to Papa"
There are his appearances on National Public Radio's "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me," where he serves as a guest panelist several times a year (including this coming weekend). Plus guest appearances on the talk shows of fellow comedians Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert and Conan O'Brien (whose show he will be returning to this Wednesday night, Feb. 12).
Papa is becoming a very familiar face — and voice — on the national comedy scene.
On May 12, author Papa will release his second book, "You’re Doing Great! And Other Reasons To Stay Alive," a collection of essays on how people really live in modern America and what’s truly good and wonderful about it. His first book, "Your Dad Stole My Rake: And Other Family Dilemmas," was released in 2018 from St. Martin’s Press, making “Summer Must Read” lists from Parade Magazine to The New York Post.
"I've always written my own material," he said. "It's a craft you can get better at as you get older and have more perspective."
These days, Papa added, "the writer in me is demanding more attention."
He said that his family, which includes two teenage daughters, provides much of the material for both his writing and his standup routines.
"They give me a lot of material and thankfully, they’re not really interested in my act, so they’ll never hear about it," Papa joked — although, he quickly added, "Nothing I say is ever mean-spirited."
In fact, Papa said, his comedy show is truly one that can be enjoyed by all ages — parents who bring their kids to the show "aren't going to cringe" at anything he says.
"It’s just a good time — it’s a good escape," he said. "I tend to feel like today's culture has enough negativity and cynicism, and I try to make my act a little less cynical and a lot more positive. I think we (comedians) can still be really funny and have a really strong set without adding to the negative narrative that’s out there."
If you go
What: Tom Papa Comedy Night
Where: Historic Holmes Theatre, 806 Summit Ave., Detroit Lakes
When: Friday, Feb. 14, 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $28 for adults and $14 for students — and for an additional $27, you can attend an after-show meet and greet with the comedian. To purchase, call 218-844-7469, visit the theater box office (10 a.m.-2 p.m. weekdays, and for two hours prior to the show), or go to dlccc.org/holmes-theatre.html.
More info: TomPapa.com