Paul F. Tompkins has perfected plenty of iconic impressions on Scott Aukerman’s Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast and his own Pod F. Tompkast. But chief among them is his gonzo take on Garry Marshall. The famed director and TV creator died this week, and Tompkins has penned a loving tribute to Mr. Marshall (please, call him Garry) over on Vulture.
Tompkins explains that Marshall played a big role in his childhood through his shows like Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, and Mork & Mindy. Not only did those shows give Tompkins a frame of reference for forming friendships, they also inspired him to go into comedy. He notes that his affection for Marshall is “deeply embedded” in his impression and that he always felt “enormously protective” of the Pretty Woman director.
Tompkins also tells the story of the one and only time he actually met Marshall, which was during a table read for BoJack Horseman. He writes, “My heart swelled with excitement and my stomach turned with anxiety; I was thrilled at the prospect of getting to meet him and mortified at the idea that he might have heard that I do an impression of him.” Although Marshall wasn’t familiar with Tompkin’s impression, the two did end up taking a photo together. Tompkin writes:
The picture is kind of perfect—terrified of wasting his time, I didn’t take time to compose my face into any sort of flattering (in my view) mask, and so the expression on my face is my honest joy at meeting him. I can actually see my childhood self in the photo. At the time, I thanked him for the picture but I was, truly, thanking him for so, so much more. He gave me so, so much.
Tompkins ends the loving essay with a tribute to Marshall’s unpretentious style of filmmaking.