: Ben Evans
When originally assigned (alright, maybe I assigned myself…) to interview stand up comedian Tom Green I commissioned friends and fellow comics to assist me in what they may want to ask him. “Anything, at all!” I proposed. And honestly, there was almost too much to choose from; it’s Tom Green for fuck-sake! But I got everything from, “Where the hell is Glenn Humplik these days?” to, “I wonder if Tom thinks the Jackass guys ripped him off – he used to dress up like an old man and fuck with people too!?” And then one young lady said; “Ask him if he’s mellowed out at all?” Which at the time seemed like a completely reasonable question; who knows, maybe he does feel like now that he’s gotten a little bit older and gone through some serious things ala divorce, and testicular cancer, that the days of spontaneous youthful antics are now a thing of yesteryear – I could see it. However, this inquiry was quickly answered well before I got a chance to even talk to him, thanks to the review section on ticket master’s website for his stand up special set to air this spring on Showtime! The review had a, “Favorite Moment” section, and quoting from Tom’s set, it just read: “Forget this, I’m just gonna scream cock at this lady! Cock! Cock! Cock!” And much to my enjoyment the question was answered – all is right in the world; Tom is Tom, both unpredictable and hilarious. Below are some of the questions I had the pleasure of asking Tom Green over the course of a two-part phone interview.
Ben E.: In terms of things outside of comedy and producing material – what do you do in your down time?
TG: I like making music still, and I just like relaxing… Eating food, hanging out with my girlfriend, traveling around a bit, I do all sorts of different things.
Ben E.: So I wanted to get back to the first time you did stand up at the Funny Farm located inside the Andretti Indoor Karting & Games facility – because you opened the 1st show ever at that location – do you remember your first time there?
TG: Yeah, it was fun, I had a great time, and I’m looking forward to coming back!
Ben E.: There can’t be many comedy clubs in the United States where you can do comedy, and then hit the go-kart track after – what are you most looking forward to about a return to Georgia?
TG: Well I’m looking forward to a few things – I’m doing some shows in Carrollton, Georgia, right before Atlanta which is going to be fun – playing at a Rock N’ Roll bar there, called Moonshadow. And then I’m playing the Georgia Theater, right after Atlanta, which will be fun. So we’re going to have a nice little run in Georgia. But yeah, I’ve played all sorts of cool places. I’ve played some really cool places in Iowa – smaller places like that, and I really like playing everywhere, ya know?
Ben E.: Do you ever think about manipulating your material based on the regions of the country you’re playing even though it’s mostly your fans that come out to see your shows?
TG: I think I’m pushing buttons with my material no matter where I go, and that’s sort of the fun of it. And the people that I attract to my shows are the people that generally want to come out and laugh and hear something that’s testing the boundaries of what’s normally discussed, or things that we find funny. And I like being in the South because of that – and you know I don’t think I’ve noticed a particularly different reaction when I play in the South. And you know to be honest, I think if anything people have just as much, or more fun with the material and the things I’m talking about.
Ben E.: What would you say the demographic of your stand up shows are – is it mostly late 20′s early 30′s folks who were into the things you were doing on MTV, or did the success of your web content since that time attract a younger audience?
TG: Well most of the places I’m playing you need to be of drinking age to go. But really I get people in their 20′s in their 30′s, their 40′s, and 50′s and 60′s – it’s really a broad group of people that come to the shows. You know, I’ve done a lot of different things over the years so I’ve been able to develop a pretty wide fan base. But yeah, it’s mostly people in their 30′s, 20′s – that age range.
Ben E.: Now this is something as a fellow comic I’m always interested in knowing about – what’s your writing process? Do you write things out as a monologue, or do you prefer to bring something to the stage that you think is funny and just contextualize it?
TG: You know I sort of do both – I sort of do both of those things. Like when I come up with something I want to talk about I tend to just try and hash it out in my head and on paper – or even sometimes on the computer. And just try and figure exactly which direction I want to go with a certain idea. But then often times I’ll just take something on stage and start talking about things and see where it goes and just develop things like that, but yeah I try all sorts of different ways of developing my material. And I try and just keep it as loose as possible. I don’t like it to be the same thing every night where I’m just doing a monologue over and over, ya know?
Ben E.: You have a stand up special coming out through Showtime that you recorded at the Wilbur Theater in Boston last year – what are you most excited about with special preparing to air fairly soon?
TG: I’m excited for people who haven’t been able get a chance to come see me live be able to see my show on television – and really get it out there that what I’m doing is a really hilarious stand up comedy show, that people gotta come see. So it will be good for people to be able to check it out, and get to see what I’m doing that’s all.
Ben E.: What’s your ultimate stand up comedy goal? Is this something you’re looking at with the notion that you want to be considered as one of the best ever one day, or is this more something that you’re enjoying as a way to express yourself creatively now?
TG: Well you know – the way I measure success in this business is to be able to continue to do it. And continue to tour and find an audience. You know, I don’t like to set sort of… goals like that, because to me it’s impossible to measure, you know? How do you really measure that? It’s all subjective. There are so many amazing comedians throughout history and some people will say, one person is their favorite, and another person might say another person is their favorite. And you know look, I love challenging myself to make my show better and better each time I get on stage, and I think it’s a pretty great show now – people gotta come check it out! But I really think what measures success with a lot of the great comics throughout history is the fact that they had longevity, and that they just sort of didn’t come and go and disappear. So I think that’s part of it to, so I’ve decided that… Well, doing comedy in one form or another has been a big part of my life, it has been for my whole adult life, and I just want to keep doing it. And so I guess, I don’t really set those kind of goals, because I already kind of feel like, I’m living the dream here, ya know? I’m doing what I love, and having a great time touring the world making a good living and being very successful on stage and off so it’s been cool.
Ben E.: So finally… I’m not sure if someone’s mentioned this show to you yet – but ATL has sort of become notorious for these, “Secret 1am shows” at Relapse Theater where the headliner’s for the weekend at either Funny Farm or Laughing Skull will often come to do a set – we’ve had Marc Maron, David Koechner, Dave Foley and people like that come by, is that something you might be considering doing?
TG: No probably, not when I’m in town, but maybe I’d do it someday – probably just going to be focused on trying to get people to come out to my scheduled shows!
Ben E.: Yeah, that’s the one thing is that the shows can start sometimes around 1:30am, and not get out till late.
TG: Yeah I will have already done two shows that night, and that’ll probably be around the time I start partying.
Tom Green will be performing at the Funny Farm Comedy Club (last show’s ever – the Funny Farm is closing!) this Friday the 10th of February, & Saturday the 11th at 8pm & 10:30pm both nights! Then on Monday the 13th, you’ll have one more chance to see him at the Georgia Theater in Athens!