Comedian Tom Green got his start on Canadian public access TV, where he honed his style of annoying and confusing bystanders while delighting audiences. He hit the big time when MTV picked up the show in 1999.
Since then, he’s made a couple of so-bad-they’re-good movies, married and divorced Drew Barrymore, and broadcast a talk show from his living room.
Earlier this year, Showtime aired his first stand-up special. And stand-up is what’s bringing him to the Tacoma Comedy Club on Sept. 27-29.
The News Tribune caught up with him in Los Angeles while he was on a short break from his tour.
Have you been to Tacoma before?
No, but I swam across Lake Washington once. For the MTV show, I had the media come out and I made a big deal that I was going to be the first person to swim across Lake Washington. It took me four hours. It was exhausting.
How’s the tour going?
I’ve been having a blast. I started touring a little over two years ago and haven’t stopped, going basically full time around the world.
Were you new to stand-up when you started the tour?
Not really. I’ve never gone on a world tour full time before. I did stand-up when I was younger and obviously I’ve written a lot of comedy over the years, but to focus on stand-up was a new thing for me.
Is this new material or bits from the Showtime special?
It’s some of my favorite bits from that. But I’ve been writing a lot of new material and I’m working on a second special now and getting material for that.
Has your comedy changed from when you were a young man who liked confounding and annoying people?
The biggest change is that being older, you have more experiences to draw on and more of a desire now to comment on social issues that are affecting people’s lives. But I’m still trying to catch people and surprise people and make them laugh at ridiculous things. There are similarities and huge changes.
What happens when the tables are turned on you?
It doesn’t really happen that often. But I like pranks and things like that. I’ve always enjoyed shows like “Candid Camera” … so I’m always a good sport about that.
Canadians seem more polite and proper than we Americans. How did they react to your show?
It’s very comparable to the reaction in the United States. Many of the clips on the MTV show that were shot on the street were actually shot in Canada – which a lot of Americans don’t realize.
Donald Trump fired you three episodes in on “The Celebrity Apprentice.” What happened?
Reality TV is a mess right now. There’s not a lot of reality that goes into these things. It’s become a situation where TV producers basically force people to be mean-spirited, weird and negative while rewarding that behavior. That’s very much what it’s like being on a show like “The Apprentice” where you take a bunch of people and put them in a room where they are very likely to start arguing about petty things. This is what TV has become. It was funny to watch all these people not used to it have a meltdown in front of you. But after a few weeks on the show, you start to get tired of it. I don’t need to be yelled at by Jesse James or Clint Black. I’d rather just go. So I started to mock the process and I went out drinking with Dennis Rodman and got myself fired.
You’re a critic of Facebook. Do you use it?
I deactivated my Facebook, but every once in a while I have to reactivate it because I can’t get a hold of anybody. The phone book doesn’t work as well as it used to. In my show, I have a lot to say about Facebook and how it’s affecting our privacy. I feel silly using it. I use Twitter a lot. I find that fun to stay in contact with my audience.
Are you a texter?
Yeah, that’s the way people communicate with one another now. But I can’t stand going out to dinner with people and seeing them text. You try and have a conversation and they’re half distracted because they’re texting under the table.
When: Sept. 27-29
Where: Tacoma Comedy Club, 933 Market St., Tacoma
Tickets: Thursday: $15 advance/$20 door; Friday-Saturday: $20 advance/$25 door