February 9, 1969 |
New Jersey, U.S.
|Years active||2000 - present|
|Genres||Comedy radio, surreal humor|
|Notable works and roles||The Best Show on WFMU, Monk|
Tom Scharpling (born February 9, 1969) is an American comedian, television writer, producer, music video director, and former radio host. He is best known for having hosted the weekly freeform radio call-in comedy program The Best Show on WFMU from 2000 to 2013, and for acting as a writer/executive producer for the TV show Monk.
Scharpling was also noted as a writer on Tom Goes to the Mayor and Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!. Beginning in 1999, he released six albums with comedy partner Jon Wurster under the moniker Scharpling & Wurster.
As a writer, Scharpling has had work published in GQ, New York Magazine, and Harp. Since 2010, Scharpling has directed music videos for The New Pornographers, Ted Leo, Titus Andronicus, Wild Flag, Aimee Mann, Real Estate, and The Ettes.
Scharpling was born February 9, 1969, and grew up in Dunellen, New Jersey. He was a fan of Saturday Night Live and SCTV from a young age. He attended Middlesex High School, Middlesex Community College, and Trenton State College. He graduated with a degree in English. Scharpling worked at a sheet music shop called World of Music in Summit, New Jersey from 1979 through 1999.
He has cited his major comedy influences as Chris Elliott's Get a Life, SCTV, Saturday Night Live, and the 1994 absurdist comedy Clifford starring Martin Short. Scharpling later purchased the suit worn by Short in Clifford via an eBay auction.
Early music-based radio shows and writing
Scharpling began volunteering at the New Jersey-based freeform station WFMU in the early 1990s. He started hosting a music-oriented program on the station in the mid-1990s. He briefly left the station in the late 1990s because he "had some personal things to take care of with family and stuff." Scharpling has told interviewers that he prefers the medium of radio due to the anxiety he gets from being onstage.
In the early 1990s, Scharpling was the publisher of 18 Wheeler fanzine, and ran an independent record label of the same name. The first 7-inch single by Portastatic was released by Scharpling's label in 1992. He also contributed the liner notes for The Electrifying Conclusion, Guided By Voices's DVD documentary of their final live show in Chicago.
The Best Show on WFMU
Scharpling hosted the first episode of The Best Show on WFMU on October 10, 2000. The program was a three-hour comedy, music, call-in and talk radio program that aired Tuesday nights; the program featured a roster of misfit callers (some genuine, some acting in character), along with the occasional celebrity guest. Scharpling made no money from the station, and regularly encourages fans to donate to the non-profit station by offering elaborate pledge drive gifts.
Nearly every episode of The Best Show featured an on-air collaboration with Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster. The pair met at a concert in the early 1990s, and quickly bonded over their mutual love of Chris Elliott's short-lived sitcom Get A Life. As Scharpling and Wurster, they have released six albums of comedy segments from The Best Show on their Stereolaffs record label. The duo almost never performs live, with one of the few exceptions to the rule being when they hosted Matador Records' 21st Anniversary Festival at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas in October 2010.
Citing his tenure on The Best Show as proof, the August 2010 issue of GQ magazine listed Scharpling #11 on its list of 37 "Never Not Funny" comedians, dubbing him one of "the funniest men you haven't heard of yet."
On October 29, 2013, Scharpling announced that the final Best Show was to air on December 17, 2013.
Tom Scharpling was the first writer to be hired for the series Monk. He was hired to the show by Saturday Night Live writer and fellow WFMU DJ Andy Breckman. Scharpling acted as executive producer for the show for seasons five through the end of the series.
He appeared on an episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force ("The Shaving") as the voice of "Willie Nelson", an awkward, unassertive onion–spider monster hybrid who lives in the attic of the house. He also appears on the special features portion of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force Volume 3 DVD. In addition, Scharpling occasionally wrote for Tom Goes to the Mayor and Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!. He currently voices Greg Universe in the animated series Steven Universe.
Starting in August 2010, Scharpling has directed a number of music videos, typically for groups that he is friends with, and almost always on an extremely limited budget. The shorts usually contain a number of celebrity cameos, and are often met with positive reviews.
Spoofing Green Day's American Idiot musical, Scharpling's video for Ted Leo's "Bottled in Cork" features Paul F. Tompkins as a theater promoter and Julie Klausner as a dance instructor. The video obtained "Immortal" status on Funny or Die shortly after it was released online.
With the video for The New Pornographers' "Moves", Scharpling was presented with the issue of the band being on tour, rendering them unable to appear in the short. As a solution, Scharpling chose to create a trailer for a fake biopic about The New Pornographers, with a number of comedy celebrities portraying the various members of the band. The video features Wyatt Cenac, Horatio Sanz, Gary Dell'Abate, Todd Barry, Julie Klausner, John Hodgman, Bill Hader, Paul Rudd, Donald Glover, and Jon Wurster.
In 2012, Scharpling directed a video for Aimee Mann's song "Labrador". The video begins with a brief "making of" clip in which the role of "Tom Scharpling" is played by Jon Hamm, who talks about his idea to have the video be a shot-by-shot remake of the video for the 'Til Tuesday song "Voices Carry". Mann then states she was tricked into the video concept and is only doing this video because she is contractually bound to do so. The actual video begins, and it is indeed a shot by shot remake of the 1985 video, with Jon Wurster in the role of Aimee Mann's abusive yuppie boyfriend, and Ted Leo as the guitarist in Aimee Mann's band.
Scharpling is a regular columnist for and co-founder of the sports website The Classical. He has worked as a headline contributor for The Onion, as well as the writer of Harp Magazine's "(Not So) Great Moments in Rock" column. He has also contributed basketball-themed writing to GQ and SLAM Magazine. In 2011, Scharpling was commissioned by New York Magazine to write multi-page recaps for every episode of the fourth season of NBC's Celebrity Apprentice.
Discography (as Scharpling and Wurster)
- Rock, Rot and Rule (Stereolaffs, 1999)
- Chain Fights, Beer Busts and Service with a Grin (Stereolaffs, 2002)
- New Hope for the Ape-Eared (Stereolaffs, 2004)
- Hippy Justice (Stereolaffs, 2005)
- The Art of the Slap (Stereolaffs, 2007)
- The Best You Can Do Is Be Worse Than The Best Show on WFMU (self-released as a premium for the WFMU Marathon, 2007)
- At The Speed Of Sound (self-released as a premium for the WFMU Marathon, 2009)
- Tom - A Best Show On WFMU Tribute to Ram (self-released as a premium for the WFMU Marathon, 2009) Though not an "true" Scharpling & Wurster release, Tom produced the album and Wurster guest stars as Zachary Brimstead, Esq. on the Dump (band) version of Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey
- A Vampire or a Dogman (Merge, 2009)
- Best Show Uncovered Vol. 1 (self-released as a premium for the WFMU 24-Hour Emergency Marathon, 2010) (MP3 CD)
- Fantasia in Best Show Minor: The Best Show on WFMU 2010 Marathon DVD (2011)
- John Hodgman: Ragnarok (2013)
- Huffington Post article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/07/new-pornographers-tom-scharpling_n_819570.html."
- LaGorce, Tammy. "IN PERSON; Gotcha! Stay Tuned", The New York Times, January 1, 2006. Accessed September 3, 2011. "'It's great when people you admire like what you're doing,' Mr. Scharpling, who grew up in Dunellen, writes for Monk in Summit and lives with his wife in Woodbridge, said before a recent Best Show. "
- Gothamist article: "Tom Scharpling, Writer, Producer, and Host of the Best Show on WFMU."
- The Onion AV Club article: "At 21, Day 3: The club is re-opened."
- USA.com video: "Video interview with Scharpling on the official Monk website."
- Pitchfork Magazine article: "Video: Ted Leo: "Bottled in Cork"."
- WFMU.org article: "Tom Scharpling-directed Ted Leo vid reaches immortal status!."
- MaxFun Intern (1 May 2013). "Judge John Hodgman 108: A Room With a Feud". Maximum Fun. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
- GQ article: "Balls Out Guest Of the Day: Tom Scharpling Demands That You Exalt Kevin Durant."
- New York Magazine article: "Vulture: Celebrity Apprentice Recap - Tom Scharpling’s Epic Take on the Finale."
- New York Times article: "BOLDFACE NAMES."
- Best Show on WFMU archives: "November 5, 2002 episode"; 1 hour, 39 minutes, 50 second mark, Scharpling states: "See, I eat fish, right? But I haven't eaten meat in I guess like eight years now. I'm not a vegan, though."
- Onion AV Club article: "INTERVIEW - Scharpling & Wurster."
- John Hodgman. "John Hodgman, RAGNAROK SURVIVAL KIT". Tumblr. Retrieved 2014-01-10.
- Tom Scharpling at the Internet Movie Database
- Tom Scharpling at AllMovie
- Tom Scharpling on Twitter
- The Friends of Tom web site
- Official Scharpling & Wurster web site
- Stereolaffs web site
- Audio archives of The Best Show on WFMU
- Best Show Vault, a fan site featuring "best of" audio clips from The Best Show on WFMU
- Recidivism Best Show Recaps
- The Newbridgctionary, a comprehensive listing of calls/appearances by the many characters portrayed by Jon Wurster over the course of The Best Show On WFMU's history
- The FOTpedia, a compendium of Tom Scharpling/Best Show on WFMU knowledge