You may remember Tom Green from his show on MTV, or his roles in 2000's "Road Trip" and 2001's "Freddy Got Fingered," but the zany Canadian has been up to so much more than just movies. Green started in stand-up while a teenager growing up in the Ottawa area, and by his early 20's, had started to move into creating his own TV show. Over the years, Green has hosted several talk shows where he's interviewed all kinds of Hollywood personalities, has dabbled in music, and even had a beer named after him.
While Green still routinely makes appearances on TV and in movies, the last few years have seen him move back toward stand-up comedy. Green will be in Rochester at The Comedy Club on Friday, January 30, and Saturday, January 31, 7:30 and 10 p.m. both nights.
Green chatted with City Newspaper about watching Rochester television on Ottawa affiliates, beer, his standup shows, and that urban legend about his testicle. An edited transcript of that conversation follows.
City: Have you made it out to Rochester before?
Tom Green: I've played there before, and I grew up watching Rochester local television. When I was a kid -- it's not this case anymore -- all the affiliates were Rochester affiliates. So I grew up with all the House of Guitars Commercials; I know Janet Lomax, Virginia Butler, Gabe Dalmath, Rochester Doppler Radar, the J&E Grocery 139 Reynolds Street commercial that used to be on after "Letterman." "We've got pork chops for 99 cents a pound." I know Rochester television.
You're a bit of a beer advocate. Did you try any of the local beers last time you were here?
It's been a few years since I was in Rochester so I can't remember if I had any of the local beers. But I can tell you one thing: I'm gonna definitely have some this time, and we're going to see if we can get the Tom Green beer in at the club, too -- it's actually being distributed in New York state now. I don't know if you've tried the Tom Green Beer but you should try some.
I saw it was rated an 83 on Beeradvocate.com.
It's a really great beer; we didn't just sort of slap my sticker on the beer. It's this really great brewery called Beau's, from Canada, and they have just made some amazing beers. We started talking about this for fun. They grew up watching my show on public access TV in Canada, the early years. The guys at the brewery are creative people, a creative team there; they're into music and skateboarding and all sorts of cool stuff, and they make amazing beer. They kind of sat down with me and we talked about different styles and types of beer we could do together, and they came up with the idea of doing a milk stout, which is loosely related to some of the skits on my TV show where we used to squirt milk all over my co-hosts. It was the first milk stout they've made at their brewery; they actually ended up winning the Ontario Craft Brewer's Association Award for Best Beer two years ago, and people love [the beer]. It's distributed all across Ontario and was just introduced to New York State recently.
You had your public access show, did The Tom Green Show, and did some acting. Is there one platform you favor over the others?
Honestly I love doing stand-up comedy. It really is, in a lot of ways, the most fun thing to do of all the things I've done in my career. It's just so exciting to get up on stage in front of a live audience and get that adrenaline rush. And it's challenging; you really do feel like you're growing creatively every time you get on stage. It's something that the more you do it, the more you learn and the more fun you have and the funnier it is.
Television, I love. When I did my show on MTV we were just so amazed by the technology too. Really when I started my show a lot of it came from me being a techno, geeky, gearhead kid. I got into making rap music when I was a teenager because I liked samplers and keyboards, and then I got into making video because I got into the technology of editing video and shooting video and it really interested me. It's been so much fun doing that over the years, and I'm still putting stuff up on tomgreen.com, a lot of classic sort of old school videos that we did, and then some new stuff as well from my tours. But stand-up is just so much fun because of that interaction with the people.
I read something you said in an interview of how in your movie, "Freddy Got Fingered," that the dad (Rip Torn) didn't understand Gordy because of the generational gap. Did that reflect on your real life in any way?
My parents were very supportive of what I did. Although we would do these pranks to them where we would barge into their bedroom in the middle of the night -- a lot of the pranks you've probably seen -- that part they didn't like. But that was part of why we did it in the middle of the night was to kind of catch them out of their comfort zone and get a genuine real reaction from them.
I don't think the "Freddy Got Fingered" story was a direct metaphor for what it was like growing up being me, but there were elements of that. We were growing up in the cusp of this new generation of technology, and art, and electronic art, and cable TV. When I was a little kid there were three channels on TV, and then in my early years all of a sudden, cable TV came along; then there was the Internet. So now this is the first generation of people that really have a legitimate shot of working as a creative artist. If that's what you wanna do, it's actually a realistic idea. But you know, my parents' generation, and older generations, that was just unrealistic as far as an occupation. There just weren't enough jobs to do. Obviously people still did it but you can see how your parents would be concerned about your future if they hear, "I'm going be a comedian. I'm going to make videos." It's like, "What? You should go get a real job." My parents were very supportive of me but they also were very concerned about my future, so we borrowed some of those concepts and storylines and put them in the movie.
Your bit about what people did before Internet porn really cracked me up. Has the material landed pretty squarely with audiences?
You're probably talking about my first stand-up special, which was shot in 2012 -- about a year and a half after I started touring. I've just really loved doing it. I've been getting such great reactions from audiences all around the world. It's pretty much a full-time thing, writing new material and coming up with subjects that connect the people, and coming up with outrageous and unique ways of looking at these subjects. I'm doing a lot of interactions with the crowds now -- it's a lot of crowd work as well, mixed in with some prepared jokes and some more crafted material. It's a very high-energy show and people are really having a great time. I like to include the audience in the show and make them a part of it, and that's been a big part of what's going on.
The thing that I really want to stress about these shows is: For the people coming out to see my stand-up, if they don't know that I've been doing stand-up, I want them to understand I've basically been on the road for the last five years pretty much non-stop. I've basically just been going all around the world, writing the stand-up show, and now writing my second comedy special. I've really decided to put my focus in life into being a stand-up comedian as far as my work. It's so much fun for me, I get to laugh every night. But it's really a fun, interactive, hilarious stand-up show and it's unlike anything they're going to see.
Still doing any rapping?
I've been dabbling in music a bit, but it's not something I'm promoting right now or about to release. I've always enjoyed making music, playing the guitar or the piano, it's sort of something that I do that's good for fun. I am thinking about possibly recording some more music to put out there to the world.
Who are you listening to nowadays?
I listen to all sorts of different mainstream music. I generally tend to listen to the 80's alternative channel on Sirius radio. I like listening to music that brings me back to my high school years, so I listen to a lot of that and a lot of hip-hop I was listening to. Old school hip-hop like The Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Run DMC, Gang Starr, or De La Soul, Tribe Called Quest, stuff like that. But my girlfriend has been introducing me to a lot of new music that I wouldn't have known, because she's a bit younger than me and listens to different music than I do. I really like this Canadian singer, Lights. I was with my friend, Detail, last night in his recording studio. He records music for everyone from Lil' Wayne, to Drake, to Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé. So I really like his music.
Is it true that after you had surgery to have your testicle removed, you kept the testicle?
No, I did not. That is just an urban legend [laughs]. If you want to know exactly what happened you can watch the special called "The Cancer Special" on YouTube.