Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tom Green interview

Proudly Canadian Tom Green first achieved fame in the U.S in 1999 when his comedy show, The Tom Green Show, began airing on MTV. He had a quick rise, moving from TV stardom to movies, marrying Drew Barrymore, and hosting "Saturday Night Live" and appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone. But just as quickly, his career - and life - was in freefall.
At the height of his fame, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He ended his TV show. His marriage ended in mere months. A movie he directed, co-wrote and starred in, Freddy Got Fingered, was declared one of the worst movies in history.
Today, he has found a new path. Since 2006 he has hosted a new talk show, Tom Green's House Tonight, where guests visit him in his home. It is amongst the most popular regular programs on the web. Last year, after another health scare, he returned to stand-up comedy. His tour brings him to The Improv in Louisville on Wednesday, January 27th. Velocity's resident pop culture guru, Peter Berkowitz, recently spoke with him:

Have you been to Louisville before?
Yes, I have, actually. I've been to the Louisville Slugger Factory. I got one of those bats with my name personalized on it. I'm looking forward to being back there again, it's gonna be a great time.

How's the tour going so far?
It's going great. I'm touring around with my friend Sean, we're on a world tour. We started out in Edmonton, Canada, we're going to Atlanta and Marco Island and then Louisville, around the country and then on to Australia. I'm really lovin' it.

You did stand-up in your teens, but hadn't done it in many years. How did you get back into it?
Jordy (Fox) from MySpace's comedy site, he was up here at the house and he brought other comedians with him, guys like Russell Peters, Nick Swardson. Then they asked me to perform at the New York Comedy Festival. It was something I'd been wanting to do, I just needed somebody to ask me to do it. MySpace, on their comedy site, I did a secret standup show for that. They actually just put it up on their site, so you can check that out now.

Is your stand-up going to be like what we've seen you do on your web channel or TV shows?
It's a hybrid. I'm excited about using the internet, letting the fans see what's going on on the road. We were throwin' snowballs in Edmonton.

Is the web channel your main focus? Is that your full-time job these days?
It's like a completely independent hobby that's gone out of control. I do it whenever I can. Sometimes I can do shows, sometimes I can't do a regular show. I don't look at it like that. I don't look at it like a job. But yeah, I'm putting my focus on the channel. We're working with an ad agency in L.A., to bring it in a bigger way. I want to have other shows on the channel, I want to be able to get on the road but still have a chunk of shows up at a time. The fun thing is getting a sponsor. You need somebody to run it, y'know? We've had various sponsors over the years, like Budweiser.

Tell me more about putting your stand-up act together.

It's always evolving. I don't ever do the same thing, every night. I have jokes, there's things I talk about. Y'know, you do five hour-long shows in a row, you figure out what works. A little music, too. We've got some high energy crowds, people yelling stuff out. It's exciting. People have conversations with me. People yell out stuff: 'Do "The Bum Bum Song"! Slutmobile!' It's being loose, it's fun to go with it. It's exciting, a good time for everyone.

So you hope to keep doing this for a while.
I basically quit drinking for this tour. Well, not liquids - just not drinking booze. I'll have a drink after the show, maybe. It's not good for my endurance. I just lived in the West Edmonton mall for five days. The club was in a mall, where the hotel was, and the restaurant, and it was snowing, y'know? I just went back and forth, back and forth. It's pretty cool. It was like Biodome. I hope people will come see the live show, and also start following it on the web. This is what I want to be doing for the next few years - going on the road making videos. What's cool is that other people are making videos of the show and posting them. I'm a video nerd. Anything to do with making videos, editing, experimentation, etc. I find it mind-blowing still what people are able to do with it. It's exciting to me - new cameras. Growing up, wanting to make videos, I had to volunteer at the local community TV station - now I can edit with Final Cut Pro in an edit bay on a laptop in the hotel room, and then post stuff immediately. I've been filming the audience with a flip cam. I've also been playing a game with the audience: passing the camera around, having them film themselves, passing it around and then hopefully passing it back to me.

And you're healthy again, so this is a good time for you.

It's very therapeutic, doing this show. There's a lot of problems that I'm dealing with - the world, me... It's therapeutic and it's funny, too. I just want everyone to realize, 'Wow! Damn! We're lucky to be here.' I'm just trying to remind everybody.

c. 2010 Velocity Weekly

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