Comedian Tom Green has accomplished a lot of lofty goals with his showbiz career.
He's hosted and created his own shows, like the surreal reality comedy The Tom Green Show on MTV that turned him into a comedy phenomenon and led to roles in movies like Road Trip and Charlie's Angels and his own film, Freddy Got Fingered. He's competed on reality shows like CBS' Celebrity Big Brother and NBC's Celebrity Apprentice and made regular appearances on Jay Leno's Tonight Show. He writes, performs and records music. He created a podcast long before the technology was easily accessible.
Now, Green says he's very happy with his latest showbiz goal of being "the greatest stand-up comedian on the planet."
The last 10 years of Green's career focused on stand-up and touring and performing at gigs and shows all over the world. This Sunday, Dec. 22, he'll be at the Addison Improv.
"I did it when I was in high school, and I dreamed of doing what I'm doing now," Green says of stand-up. "I dreamed of touring the country and going from comedy clubs to theaters to performance venues around the country and around the world telling jokes. I'm just having so much fun now and just so you know, I'm excited to be having the opportunity to perform every night and consistently get better at stand-up every year. I feel like I'm getting better and better and better at stand-up because I do so many shows."
Green, a native of Ontario, first found an audience in his hometown in 1994 when The Tom Green Show first appeared on public access. On the show, he played an insane version of himself messing with strangers and even his friends and family. MTV found Green a few years later and put him on America's cable airwaves starting in 1999; his talent for becoming and creating spectacle became a comedy phenomenon, and the comedian found a massive audience for his bizarre sketches and shenanigans.
Green says his stand-up audiences have an interesting mix of fans who know him from all the different corners of his showbiz career.
"It all converges at my stand-up performances," Green says. "I've got people who know me from all these different things and then they come to see me do stand-up. I try to keep the energy of The Tom Green Show alive in my stand-up, but it's also bringing a completely new kind of comedy to people that, you know, haven't seen me do stand-up. So, it's great."
Of course, the Tom Green that people saw on the MTV show isn't the one who will be on comedy club stages. Instead, Green takes advantage of his notoriety to create a unique atmosphere in his shows — one that rides on the edge of unpredictability.
"I want the audience to feel like they're on a big rope where they're on the edge of something potentially gone wrong, and that creates energy and nervousness and excitement and anxiety amongst everybody in the room, but then of course, that presents itself as laughter, big laughter because of the relief when it works out," Green says. "You feel so relieved when it works out that it creates big-time laughter, and that element of surprise is a big part of comedy."
Green says he has a lot of things to say and joke about "that are frustrating to me about human life on this planet and also absurd."
"I'm talking about meaningful things that affect people's lives and capturing the audience's interest and attention," Green says. "Then once I've got everyone's attention, then again I get a little crazy and weird so you can see that in my show, where the performance takes a lot of strange and absurdist turns."
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Green says he still embraces his silly side, even if some modern comedy seems to be abandoning the concept altogether.
"I think that's one thing that has always made Canadian comedy and Canadians a little different is we're not afraid to be silly," he says. "I love adding a layer of silliness on top of my anger and disgust with the world so that people have fun. It's a fun show and I can make fun of myself and not take myself too seriously, you know? That's always been important to me in comedy."
One of his favorite things about stand-up, Green says, is the ability to connect and interact with people and find comedy in the moment — a talent that he's showcased throughout his career.
"It's like instead of walking down the street with a microphone, I'm standing in a comedy club with a microphone talking to people in a comedy club and pulling comedy out of thin air with them," Green says. "So it really is like a live performance of The Tom Green Show."