Tonight begins the tenth season of American Idol. All-new judges and mentors! All-new loosened age requirements! An all-new seat for Randy! Well you know what, Fox? We'll see your all-new and raise you one: Vulture has an all-new American Idol recapper, and it is dapper comedian/actor/podcaster/expert Cake Boss impersonator Paul F. Tompkins. But what are his credentials for analyzing and reviewing this pop-culture behemoth? We gave him a short questionnaire, and we think you'll find that his credentials are in order.
1. What makes you an authority on American Idol?
First of all, I'm an American. Secondly, as a former Catholic, I know lots about idolatry.
2. Have you ever either judged or competed in a reality competition?
Not in any formal capacity. But as a panelist and eventual host of VH1's Best Week Ever, I sat in televised judgment of this very reality competition for years. Years. YEARS.
3. What kind of music do you like to hear attempted by marginally talented people?
Dixieland jazz. No contest. I love seeing homemade arm-garters!
4. What are your hopes and dreams for this season of the show?
My hope is that there is someone on the show who is actually pleasant to listen to, has a nice personality, and is encouraged to develop some streak of originality rather than being advised to conform to the slick, anonymous junk that the AI producers seem to favor. And if that's my hope, then I must be dreaming.
Expertise confirmed. So make sure to look for him on Vulture: He'll be here every Friday to take a look back on the week in Idol, though for this special premiere week he'll be posting his recap tomorrow to give his immediate and hilarious take on the new judging panel. It remains to be seen whether we're in good hands with Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, but we are surely in good hands here.