As Chicagoans, we are blessed with numerous options on where to receive our daily dose of morning sports news. While any idiot can rattle off stats and scores from a teleprompter - it takes the right combination of talent, passion and personal flair to rise to the top, particularly in a sports-centric market like Chicago.
As someone who is extremely fickle about her sports news (I account this to having worked in the industry), I’m a dedicated hard-core fan of WGN’s Pat Tomasulo. The perfect mix of sports and comedy with the ideal amount of sarcasm and wit, Pat has me hooked each morning Monday through Friday, and I’m not alone. Pat has developed a cult following in Chicago and has recently branched into the world of comedy – two worlds that he so eloquently weaves into his work at WGN.
In addition to his solid and witty sports reporting, Pat is known for his hilarious spoofs on WGN like The Pat Down, Conventional Wisdom and of recent, Batman on the Street.
Pat has taken sports reporting to a whole different level and offers a fresh alternative for anyone looking for a little more than just sports scores and highlight reels. As a compulsive fan, you can imagine how ecstatic I was when he agreed to a phone interview that went something like this.
MMV: You do an amazing job combining sports and comedy – was that a natural on-air progression or did you have to convince someone at WGN to give you a shot?
PT: I’m lucky that WGN News is that type of show – you can get away with a lot more at a place like WGN than others. Not to say there weren’t any growing pains along the way, but I haven’t changed my shtick over the years – my approach to sports has always had a dose of humor. (Here we both agreed that some sports anchors have evolved for the worse – if you look at the SportsCenter anchors from the early 90s and then at the flagship show’s corporate feel today – there’s a lot to miss from the old days).
MMV: How did skits like the “Pat-Down and “Batman” make it to the air and become cult faves and regular series?
PT: The Pat-Down started from the bizarre sex ads that would show up at the bottom of the old Sun Times sports page. One day I just started calling up the numbers and showing up at the addresses of the places with a camera rolling.
Conventional Wisdom and Batman on the street both started at the Comic Convention here in Chicago. The Batman on the street has caught on – the next Batman appearance will be at Lollapalooza. Check out hilarious Batman clip from the Comic Convention weekend below.
MMV: We know you are originally from New Jersey, but have you adopted the Chicago sports teams as your hometown faves?
PT: I was a die-hard Yankees fan growing up and I still have soft spot for them, but it’s hard to deliver the Chicago sports news day in and out and not have a strong affiliation for the teams.
MMV: In that case, what is your opinion on the current state of Chicago sports?
PT: The Cubs situation is exciting. Tough to watch at times and you really can’t expect much from this year – but with guys like Samardzija, LaHair and some of the young studs that could be called up – I think the Cubs will be an interesting ball club to watch over the next few years. The Sox are playing great and proving a lot of people wrong which is always good – Jake Peavy looks amazing and if the offense continues clicking, they should be a strong contender for October. As for the Bulls, with the Rose situation, they might be better off losing 40 games next year and getting a strong lottery pick. The Bears made a lot of big splashes in the off-season – all the pieces are there – the OL (offensive line) is still a mess but I can see where the Bears still want to give Gabe Carmini and Chris Williams a shot.
MMV: What’s your prediction for the Bears season?
PT: I never like to make picks – because when you’re wrong you get hell from everyone, but I do believe the Bears will make the post-season. I’ll say 10-6.
MMV: Any good stand-up gigs on the horizon?
PT: I host at the Laugh Factory on Wednesday nights and usually try to do some type of comedy one school night and one weekend night a week. (PT told me that he arrives in the studio each morning at 2:30am to prepare for the morning show, so we can’t imagine how he’s keeping this schedule).
MMV: Any similarities between stand-up and being on-the-air?
PT: It’s actually a very different dynamic. When you’re doing stand-up, feedback is immediate – which is the toughest part of stand-up, because it obviously can go either way. When you’re on the air, you have no idea if the guy at home is shaking his head and calling you a loser – or laughing along with you. It’s more of a fearless role.
MMV: Last question – we know you’re married, but tell us the 3 things you love the most about Chicago women?
PT: (laughs) I actually love mid-west women. Not that there is anything wrong with Jersey girls – right? – but I really like that natural girl next door look. There’s something very attractive about the wholesomeness of mid-west girls and definitely the down-to-earth factor of Chicago women. And definitely the fact that Chicago women are knowledgeable sports fans. Before I came to Chicago it was tough to find girls that knew their stuff, but Chicago women are hard-core fans – I love that.
We love you too PT – keep up the great work, and we’ll keep tuning in.