TV Comedy Writer, Co-host of Sirius XM’s “Entertaining Truth” & Unlikely Catholic Convert
Tom Leopold, veteran comedy writer of such hit TV shows as Seinfeld, Cheers, and Will and Grace, has been making audiences laugh for over four decades. As Christopher Guest says, “When it comes to comedy, Tom Leopold has an extra gene. You may not know it, but he has probably made you laugh.” Now he’s keeping audiences entertained as the co-host with Father Leo on “Entertaining Truth” on the Catholic Channel of Sirius XM. This former secular Jew and recent Catholic convert is a sought after speaker for his hilariously heartfelt and poignant performance lecture, “A Comedy Writer Finds God: My Journey to Faith, One Laugh at a Time,” in which he tells the story of his crisis of no faith as his daughter battled anorexia to his discovery of and conversion to the Catholic faith. Leopold has spoken at Catholic parishes, Knights of Columbus, Catholic universities, Catholic conferences, libraries, and JCCs. He also speaks to parenting groups about raising children with severe illnesses (especially anorexia). In 2014 he was honored with the Christopher Spirit Award by the Christophers, a nonprofit organization rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition of service to God and humanity.
Leopold’s funny and moving Catholic conversion story has been featured in The Catholic Herald, Our Sunday Visitor, Catholic News Service, National Catholic Reporter, American Catholic, The Lay Catholic, CatholicMom.com, and on America: National Catholic Review Podcast, EWTN, Global Catholic Network radio, American Catholic Radio, Relevant Radio, and Hail Satire.
Leopold’s journey to faith was a circuitous one with plenty of pain and laughs along the way. He grew up a secular Jew on the edge of a Florida golf course that restricted people like him. His parents worshiped showbiz, especially musical comedy. They only joined the local synagogue when open auditions for Guys and Dolls were held. That value system formed a solid launching pad for the success of Leopold’s showbiz ambitions, but left him rudderless when tragedy struck.
When his youngest daughter Gussie was stricken with a life-threatening eating disorder, Leopold and his wife did everything in their power to help her. After years of therapy and doctors they had no answers. A friend suggested reading Father Jonathan Morris’s book, The Promise: God’s Purpose and Plan for When Life Hurts. He did and started to find some answers. Not long after, Leopold, who was carrying the book, ran into Fr. Morris on the street. “There’s no coincidences,” Fr. Morris said. “The Lord has a plan and there is a super natural reality. Sometime we come to God through suffering. Sometimes we lose God through suffering.” After Leopold assured Fr. Morris that he paid full price for the book and Fr. Morris mentioned that his favorite episode of Seinfeld was one that Leopold just happened to have written, Leopold, unwittingly, was on the path to conversion. But how was he going to break it to his mother? He told her that the church had offered him the role of Riff in West Side Story and there was an opening for a more mature Maria. How was he going to explain it to his coterie of mostly secular Jew showbiz friends? Ultimately he knew that it didn’t matter what anyone else thought. He found his faith and God.
From writing episodes of Seinfeld, Cheers, and Will and Grace, to working with such comedic legends as Steve Allen, Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Billy Crystal, Chevy Chase, and Christopher Guest, Leopold has been at the epicenter of comedy for nearly 40 years. Leopold’s career as a comedy writer has moved beyond television in recent years. His novel Milt & Marty: The Longest Lasting & Least Successful Comedy Writing Duo in Show Biz History was praised by Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Paul Shaffer, Martin Mull, and Fred Willard, among many others. He wrote The Mark Twain Awards Honoring Tina Fey and The Mark Twain Awards Honoring Will Ferrell, and has also been writing comedy speeches for such political folk as Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, and Governor Mark Pence of Indiana. Leopold has produced episodes of Explosion Bus that he co-created with Jonathan Katz and Tom Snyder of “Doctor Katz Professional Therapist” fame.
Leopold lives in New York City with his wife Barbara and their two daughters.
Praise for Tom Leopold’s “A Comedy Writer Finds God”
“We invited Tom Leopold to Saint Mary’s College this fall to share his remarkable story – a journey of self-discovery and faith. Accompanied by music he has written, Tom tells the story against the backdrop of his family, his Hollywood career, and a miraculous series of events that guide him to Manhattan to discover grace. The play is simple in technical requirement but rich in impact, humor, and sentiment. During his visit, Tom was gracious and generous with his talent. He met with students to share his professional experiences, he helped with master classes and he greeted the public following his performance. He was, in all aspects, a genuine, gifted and gracious artist. After one brief visit, he’s a member of the Saint Mary’s family.”
— Richard Baxter, Director of Special Events, Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, IN
“Tom presented his show for our parish as a new evangelization event and received a standing ovation at the end of his performance. It was a touching, clever and fun show that left everyone happy for him and uplifted in their faith. Thank you Tom!”
—Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Santa Clarita, CA
“Tom is an engaging and hilarious performer who has a very powerful story of his conversion.”
—Fr. Dan O’Reilly, Columbia University Catholic Ministry
“Tom’s performance was more than funny. It was a heartwarming and utterly human story of finding faith. Through his story, he demonstrated that despite our ‘brokenness’ we can still find humor and God along the way.”
—Rob Madonna, Knights of Columbus, Parsippany, NJ
“I just want to reiterate how grateful the library is to you for sharing your time and talent with us and our tightly-packed house on Friday. We are receiving non-stop messages, calls, texts, e-mails, IM’s, tweets, facebook posts and even face-to-face compliments from so many of your fans! Not only was the Island treated to a great performance, but A Comedy Writer Finds God raised over $1,200 for the library (a record!). Let’s seriously consider making Laughter After Labor Day an annual tradition…. we’ve got 362 days to prepare for 2013!”
— Denise DiPaolo, Director, Shelter Island Public Library
“Tom Leopold is a seasoned comic writer and stand-up performer and has produced an inspiring one-act show that is appropriately named, ‘A Comedy Writer Finds God’. Within the space of an hour, using memories and a guitar, Tom leads his audience along a path that everyone will recognize – joys and sorrows, triumphs and setbacks. . .I am happy to know that Tom Leopold wants tell his ‘faith’ story wherever and whenever ever he can, bringing humor and understanding to the way God makes himself known in our lives.”
— Monsignor Donald Sakano, The Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral