I was introduced to the work of Tom Scharpling when I started listening to the podcast of The Best Show on WFMU as a way to kill time at work. The show features a mix of Scharpling sounding off, and contending with an endless supply of insane callers, including Jon Wurster (of Superchunk, The Mountain Goats, and many more), who has worked with Tom to create hundreds of character based sketches, and eventually the fake town of Newbridge, New Jersey. Add the fact that the show is an invariable tastemaker (with frequent guests such a Paul F. Tompkins, Julie Klausner and other great comedians, musicians and artists), and you’ve got a unique, modern take on the classic, golden age radio show. I loved the show so much I checked out his other work, most notably the USA show Monk (which he wrote/produced), which was equal parts captivating, touching, and funny at times. Scharpling also contributed to multiple shows on Adult Swim.
Tom granted me the chance to do an interview before a Best Show one night, and was nice as could be. He’s also one of most naturally funny people I’ve ever seen, who can start joking around in the middle of the most serious of discussions, without coming off as just “doing material.” Afterward, he let me sit in the studio on air, which was like a comedy fan’s dream come to life, watching him go off on everything from bullies to Beatles Fest. This was our conversation.