Monday, September 19, 2011
With comedians, you never quite know what to expect in an interview. I've conducted conversations with comics that was all about their shtick and some who acted like they never cracked a smile.
I didn't know what to expect from Tom Green, a polarizing talent if there ever was one. I think that either you're a fan of what he is best known for– outrageous, in-your-face confrontational prank humor – or you're not. I admire the guy for staking out a piece of comic turf that relatively few have.
It turns out that Green is an articulate sincere guy, who is serious about his stand-up career.
If you think of outrageous when you think of comedian Tom Green, you would be right. Green came to prominence with a program on MTV that emphasized a willingness to do almost anything to himself or his sidekicks for laughs — or shock.
Talking to Green reveals another side to the guy willing to put live mice in his mouth for an audience’s amusement. He’s a performer who is very serious about developing his stand-up act.
Green spoke to Reminder Publications last week. He will be appearing at the Hu Ke Lau on Oct. 1 in Chicopee.
MTV picked Green up for his first show in 1999, after the performer had starred and produced his own show for the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, which was based on his long-running homemade show seen on cable access.
The success of the first MTV show led to subsequent shows and specials on the network as well as a string of movies, including the infamous “Freddy Got Fingered,” which was Green directed and co-wrote.
Having started performing stand-up at age 15, Green has returned to the comedy format and has been touring for the past two years.
“I always wanted to do it again,” he said of stand-up. Green stopped performing when he started his cable access television show.
He added he enjoys the writing process of developing jokes and stories.
“The real fun I have is crafting a joke with a lot of structure, but make them look unstructured,” he explained.
Green does improvise on stage as well and uses stand-up for the expression of opinions on social issues.
After working on mainstream television and movies, Green appreciates the one-man quality of stand-up.
“What I love about stand-up is the complete freedom. There are no rules there,” he said.
“With the television shows, we were challenging ourselves to smash the rules each week into smithereens,” Green said.
Green was raised in the culture of skateboard and said that was the inspiration for the crazy physical stunts seen on his show. When asked if his show inspired MTV’s “Jackass,” he said, “People ask me that [all the] time. I tell them to drawn their own conclusion.”
While Green doesn’t think MTV copied him, he said he has been told by “Jackass” cast members such as Steve O that they were inspired by him.
Green’s success also led to movie roles in a number of films as well as his star turn in “Freddy Got Fingered,” a film that is now considered a cult film.
He said that acting in someone else’s film “takes a lot on pressure off” him and he “doesn’t necessarily have to always do everything.”
He currently has several film ideas in development, including one he calls “Insane Prank Movie.”
Green has the reputation of pushing boundaries and he did that with his Internet-based talk and variety show that ran from 2006 to this year. Green was a pioneer in using the Internet as a way to broadcast a television show, which he jokingly called “Web-o-Vision.”
He said he enjoyed the show and would do it again, despite the fact that he made just enough money on the show to cover the costs.
“It was a fairly elaborate show,” he noted, which was broadcast weeknights over Livestream and then archived.
“I’ve always been aware of technology and curious how to apply it to make funny comedy,” Green said.
He stopped the production of the show to go on tour and devote himself to stand-up. Green recently did a 12-day appearance as part of the acclaimed Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which was well received.
One unidentified reviewer wrote on www.edinburghspotlight.com, “His insanely genius ‘shock humour’ is what helped Tom shoot to fame and it’s something he fortunately hasn’t let go of. Loosely based on the story of his life, Tom doesn’t hold back. He’s incredibly open and honest about elements of his past making the show much more than just hilarious antics.”
© 2011 by Gordon Michael Dobbs