July 4, 2019 Interview – Tom Green
Perhaps some of the most unique, and often most bizarre, brands of comedy produced over the last two decades comes from the mind of Tom Green. Drawn into the world of entertainment at a young age, Green would take a chance on following his dreams, setting out to pursue a career in comedy and music. A path which would have its sacrifices, leaving him relatively unknown for some time, it was not until around 1999, when MTV picked up The Tom Green Show, that his luck was about to change. Giving him the platform for a much larger audience, Green captured the attention of millions of viewers, making him one of the hottest, well-known names in the world of Comedy. Leading to massive success, including roles in big Hollywood flicks including 2000’s Road Trip and Charlie’s Angels, along with his very own film, 2001’s Freddy Got Fingered, Green’s perseverance paid off in dividends.
Now 30 years into his career, Green continues to follow his creative instincts as a comedian, talk show host, actor, and musician. Recently putting together an album of his songs for the indie label Ship to Shore Phono Co. of Brooklyn, The Tom Green Show LP is just the beginning for Green’s relaunched passion for music. Excited about what lays ahead, he recently sat down to chat about his career path, the rise to success, his love for Hip Hop music, plus much more.
Cryptic Rock – You have been involved in entertainment for nearly thirty years now as a comedian, actor, as well as a show host. Looking back, how would you describe your career in entertainment to this point?
Tom Green – I’ve always followed my passion. I’ve always done what I loved, I’ve always tried to be creative, think outside the box, and do different things. I’ve a lot of different types of things over the last 30 years and I enjoy sort of bleeding all of those things together and creating comedy. It’s been an amazing thing, I feel so fortunate and have a lot of gratitude toward the universe for allowing me to live this life. I’m literally living my dream doing exactly what I’ve always wanted to do which was make comedy, art, music, and not have to get a real job. (Laughs)
Cryptic Rock – (Laughs) It does not get much better than that. It was around 1999 when you saw a major influx in public attention and success thanks to the very popular The Tom Green Show. From there, you would be one of the most recognized faces in entertainment going on to feature films, etc. What was that time like for you?
Tom Green – It was exciting because I had been trying to get people to see what I’d been doing for 10 years at that point. I’d been making music in my Rap group which started in 1989, I had been doing my radio show and the Tom Green public access show for many years in Canada, all with very little recognition. Then, when MTV took it and pumped it all out there into the world, I was being invited on shows like David Letterman, hosting Saturday Night Live, and all these exciting mainstream things, it was very cool and exciting!
Finally I had sort of broke through and people were watching. It was also nice because financially my life changed entirely. A lot of the early years were very stressful for me. I had to move back to my parent’s house, I didn’t have any money, there was no real sort of financial gain from what I was doing, it was a tough life. Once MTV pumped everything out there, I was able to do some films and such like that, it really changed my life in so many ways. It was not just in the fact that people were watching, but I was now financially secure. Now I was able to have the freedom to really go do what I wanted to do and not worry about how I was going to survive. It was an exciting time.
Cryptic Rock – That is great to hear it all came together for you. An interesting thing about you is that beyond comedy, you have always had a love for music and always kept music a big part of who you are. That in mind, you recently released a new album. What inspired this album?
Tom Green – I love making electronic music. I tour doing stand-up comedy, but when I’m not touring, I’m home in LA and I enjoy tinkering with synthesizers, drum machines, samplers, making electronic sounds, noise, beats, music and Hip Hop. I’m always doing this, I probably have hundreds of songs recorded to be honest with you; some are half finished and experiments. I was approached Ship to Shore Phono Co. of Brooklyn to put out a vinyl release, so I thought, hey this would be a really fun time to do this.
I started going through my existing music and started putting together this sort of montage of sound; clips from The Tom Green Show, clips from my stand-up, clips from my movies, songs from my movies and TV show. All of them were remixed and re-edited all from my home studio and I did all that myself. It was kind of a labor of love and it really excited me putting out this record. It has reinvigorated my musical creative spark and I want to start using music as a driving force for a lot of my comedy in the upcoming years. I’m already working on the next record and it’s something I do everyday. Everyday I’m in my studio making music.
Cryptic Rock – Very cool. The album is a fun listen. Your music clearly has comedic elements to it, but you also appear to have a serious knowledge of creating electronic tunes. What led to your interest in messing around with electronic music?
Tom Green – When I was in high school and I heard Rap music for the first time, the first time I heard it was Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight.” I was just amazed the wordplay, rhyming, the way the beat sounded. It was the funkiness of it, certainly the bass line, but also the words and the way it was all put together. I was probably around 12 years old when I heard that song and it just mesmerized me. I would listen to that song over and over again, it was the only Rap song I had, I had it on a cassette. Cut to a couple of years later and all of a sudden there was Run DMC, Public Enemy, and The Beastie Boys. I wanted to make that kind of music, I was amazed how it all worked. I would go down to the keyboard/synthesizer music store in Ottawa and I would play with the drum machines and samplers. I did it because I wanted to figure how it all worked, loved the way it sounded, and I also wanted to perform rap; I wanted to get up on stage at school and do some funny rap.
It was interesting on two-fold. It was fun because I enjoyed the technology and figuring all that out the way it sounded. It also gave me an outlet to get up on stage, perform, and yell into a microphone. That’s how it all started and I really never quit making music. I went through years where I really wasn’t doing it that much, but the last 2-3 years I really brought myself back into it and put a new studio together.
This record is kind of like a compilation of a bunch of songs I made when I wasn’t even sure if I was going to be putting this music out. Then the opportunity to put the music out came out, I went through all my files of songs, and these are the ones I picked. That is why there are so many different styles on the record; there is Rock-n-Roll, Alternative Rock, Electronic, a little bit of Rap, etc. I wanted to make it a little montage of sound.
Cryptic Rock – It certainly is a mix of styles. You will be out tour throughout the summer and well into the fall. For those who have yet to check you out live yet, can they expect a mix of music and stand-up comedy.
Tom Green – The shows this year are stand-up shows, but the music is playing in the theater/club when I walk in. The vinyl will be available for purchase at the shows, so I will come out, meet people, and sign their records. I have been walking into to stage to “I Wanna Be Friends With Drake,” so I sometimes for fun sing a little of that song on the top, but for the most part it is a straight up stand-up show.
Next year, I think when I come around to finish my next record, which will have more Rap on it, I will look into the possibility of doing a music tour in the future with a DJ. I will look into doing a Rap Comedy hybrid where I’ll be performing Rap and stand-up together, but that is not this tour. I will do that in more music venues probably.
Cryptic Rock – That is something to look forward to! You have done stand-up, your own show, you’ve done skits, you have also acted as a hosting interviewer. So how would you compare these different platforms and which do you enjoy the most?
Tom Green – I was inspired by a lot of things when I was growing up. One thing I was greatly inspired by was David Letterman, which I consider to be the greatest living television interviewer. Him and Larry King, who was also very inspiring to me. I grew up looking at these TV shows and I just loved watching interviews because I love watching guests perform. I loved watching comedians come on, but in the process of that I really started enjoying the art of interviewing people. I realized a lot of my comedy that I wanted to do was kind of outrageous, so I was inspired by someone like David Letterman who was mixing the two; the art of interviewing and also being outrageous himself.
That was the starting off point and I am now guest hosting Larry King’s show. They have me doing multi-episodes of that and I will be doing more of those as a guest host. I love interviewing people because I love Comedy, I love getting to meet comedians. I love music, films, and I love to be able to interview people, talk to those people, because I’m a fan of those people; I find it interesting to pick people’s brain, learn from people and talk to them directly. Also, I love the art of making television. I love being able to work in that environment working with cameras and engaging with viewers.
There are definitely different hats I wear when I make music and do stand-up comedy. I am a completely different performer than when I am an interviewer. When I interview people I’m more being inquisitive, listening, and sitting back and letting the guest be the driving force of the interview. When I’m on stage doing stand-up, I’m not sharing the stage with anyone, so I let loose and I’m wild and crazy Tom. (Laughs)
Cryptic Rock – It’s fascinating to hear how you approach the different aspects of performing. Let’s talk movies for a minute. You have starred in your share of films and just a couple of years ago had a role in the Horror flick Bethany. Would you consider doing more acting in the future?
Tom Green – Absolutely. When people ask me to do films I usually just say yes and do it. As far as writing, developing, and directing my own film, I would like to do that again someday. It’s complex and sometimes I feel like I don’t have the patience for the business side of film-making. I would love to make a movie a year, but the business side of raising the money and all of that stuff is so complex. My patience sometimes just can’t handle it, that’s why I like doing more short form videos, I’m doing music videos now for my songs. With stand-up comedy I’m in the moment. Making a movie, you think of a joke, you think of a story you want to tell, and by the time you are telling it, it’s 2 years later. My attention span is pretty short, I like to write a joke and be telling it on stage that night. I would like to make more films someday when the time is right.
Cryptic Rock – Understood. The filmmaking process is very slow, especially when you get involved with distribution, etc.
Tom Green – I think more and more over the last few years since I started doing my internet show, I really have been leaning toward doing things completely independent. My stand-up comedy is completely independent, my internet show is completely independent, this album is completely independent. I feel like I’m able to express myself creatively and in a more unique way doing things like that.
Cryptic Rock – Absolutely and working independently is a feasible option nowadays. Look how many artists are releasing content without a major company behind them. Last question. What are some of your favorite Horror and Sci-Fi films?
Tom Green – One Horror movie I like is the one I am in called Iron Sky: The Coming Race. I play a Steve Jobs worshiping cult leader, it comes out July 19th, and it is one of the biggest budget films I’ve ever been in. It’s a European movie and it was really fun.
I’ve loved a lot movies. Particularly Horror, I will tell you one thing, Horror movies scared me so much. I think I am so emotionally affected by fear that I’ve been unable to watch them my entire life. I guess it’s the music and tension of it that gives me incredible anxiety. I remember when I was kid and my friends all wanted to watch A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Friday the 13th (1980), or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), I would have to watch it hiding behind my knees. I can’t really say if I’ve watched a Horror movie from beginning to end without running out into the other room crying.
With Science Fiction, I grew up like everybody loving Star Wars movies. Star Wars (1977) was the first movie I saw in a theater. I love certain Star Trek movies, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn (1982) is one of my favorites. I don’t really say I’m totally versed in those genres, but I love the classics like Blade Runner (1982), 1984 (1984), and A Clockwork Orange (1971).
7/18/19 @ 7:00pm At Yuk Yuk’s Ottawa
7/18/19 @ 9:30pm At Yuk Yuk’s Ottawa
San Francisco, CA:
8/16/19 @ 7:30pm At Cobb’s Comedy Club
8/17/19 @ 7:30pm At Cobb’s Comedy Club
8/17/19 @ 9:45pm At Cobb’s Comedy Club
8/23/19 @ 7:30pm At Irvine Improv
8/23/19 @ 9:45pm At Irvine Improv
8/24/19 @ 7:00pm At Irvine Improv
8/24/19 @ 9:30pm At Irvine Improv
8/25/19 @ 7:00pm At Irvine Improv
San Diego, CA:
9/14/19 @ TBD At Kaaboo Del Mar
9/19/19 @ 7:30pm At The Comic Strip
9/20/19 @ 7:30pm At The Comic Strip
9/20/19 @ 9:45pm At The Comic Strip
9/21/19 @ 7:00pm At The Comic Strip
9/21/19 @ 9:30pm At The Comic Strip
9/27/19 @ 7:30pm At Cap City Comedy
9/27/19 @ 10:00pm At Cap City Comedy
9/28/19 @ 7:30pm At Cap City Comedy
9/28/19 @ 10:00pm At Cap City Comedy
10/04/19 @ 7:30pm At Levity Live
10/04/19 @ 9:45pm At Levity Live
10/05/19 @ 7:00pm At Levity Live
10/05/19 @ 9:30pm At Levity Live
10/06/19 @ 7:00pm At Levity Live
Las Vegas, NV:
10/10/19 @ TBD At Plaza Hotel & Casino
10/11/19 @ TBD At Plaza Hotel & Casino
10/12/19 @ TBD At Plaza Hotel & Casino
10/18/19 @ 7:30pm At Tacoma Comedy Club
10/18/19 @ 10:30pm At Tacoma Comedy Club
10/19/19 @ 7:30pm At Tacoma Comedy Club
10/19/19 @ 10:30pm At Tacoma Comedy Club
11/01/19 @ 7:30pm At Brea Improv
11/01/19 @ 9:45pm At Brea Improv
11/02/19 @ 7:00pm At Brea Improv
11/02/19 @ 9:30pm At Brea Improv
11/03/19 @ 7:00pm At Brea Improv
11/08/19 @ 7:30pm At Pittsburgh Improv
11/08/19 @ 9:45pm At Pittsburgh Improv
11/09/19 @ 7:00pm At Pittsburgh Improv
11/09/19 @ 9:30pm At Pittsburgh Improv
11/10/19 @ 7:00pm At Pittsburgh Improv
11/21/19 @ 7:45pm At Rumors Winnipeg
11/22/19 @ 7:45pm At Rumors Winnipeg
11/22/19 @ 10:30pm At Rumors Winnipeg
11/23/19 @ 7:15pm At Rumors Winnipeg
11/23/19 @ 10:00pm At Rumors Winnipeg
12/06/19 @ TBD At Raleigh Improv
12/07/19 @ TBD At Raleigh Improv
12/08/19 @ TBD At Raleigh Improv
For more on Tom Green: tomgreen.com | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Purchase Tom Green music:
Feature photo credit: Troy Conrad