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Tom Green Interview: The Godfather Of Pranks Talks Real Time

By on March 10, 2015
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Tom Green. Tom Green. My son, my son what have ye done? Planted by a seed in a fine place called Ottawa, is where it begun. A place so beautifully boring, government towers are reassuring, though some of finest darlings come from there. Creating Planking was the word, the unique style of  your words and gyrating has simply educated,  and has lead ye to be the darling, the godfather of pranks. Now living on romantic dago-laid Los Angeles concrete, we must ask you sir,  my son, my son what ye done? Why talk to us this moment on the pretty things that you do.

 

Tom how are you?

Yo! Yo! Yo!

Hey Tom how’s it going?

Good man! How you doing man?

Yeah not bad. Are you driving right now?

I am driving down the street in Los Angeles, and Im looking for a cup of coffee actually.

Is there anything beautiful you see?

No it’s quite the opposite of beautiful that’s for sure. Homeless people, trash blowing across the road, fire engines everywhere, sirens blaring, graffiti on the walls is probably the most beautiful thing I can see.

It’s inspiring though right?

Yeah is a pretty inspiring place to live, allot of history here. Just because its a bit of a dump doesn’t mean its not kind of fun. You got a lot of interesting delapidated buildings, so yeah nice place. I’m just driving down Hollywood right now going to do an interview.

Your live  show on TV?

It’s on Showtime in the U.S been around three months now, live stand up. It’s been going awesome, it’s been really cool touring hitting the road, and the show itself has been going well. Playing allot of festivals. You know you’re actually getting laughs and not sitting an editing room, shit like that you know. I’ve always wanted to invest myself into stand up again, I did it when I was young and sort of stopped when I did the Public Access show, it was years and years I thought about getting back into it.

One second I just a crazy text right now.

No worries, go nuts!

Can you tell us what you’re texting?

Oh It’s just my cleaning lady is texting me and she’s trying to get in my house.

Ahhh Nice!

Yeah so I don’t want her to be stuck outside on the street so I’m telling her to call somebody to get in the house.

She cant climb up any trees and through windows?

No!

Is she a good cleaning lady?

Oh yeah she’s a good cleaning lady she cleans the house makes it nice and clean, absolutely!

Good stuff she puffs some pillows and so? I need a good cleaning lady.

Oh Yeah! She makes everything all fluffy and nice.

Whats strangest thing you have seen on tour?

Well I think some of the strangest moments happen on stage I try and have something crazy every night cause you know there’s always some ridiculous interaction with the crowd. For specific places I mean I went to Iraq, Afghanistan, interesting and amazing.

Were you nervous?

Yeah I was nervous you know, though I’m always a bit paranoid so, you know I got paranoid getting on a plane to Cleveland so when you get on a plane to Iraq or Afghanistan you feel a little freaked out. It was more interesting than it was scary you know you’re only going in there for a week or so, you get allot of exciting feedback from the troops there always happy when people come and so shows for them.

Was it weird?

It wasn’t weird or strange because people do that all the time and there’s allot of people that go over there to support the military, it’s kind of like pretty standard other than the fact that you’re siting there freaked out that you’re in Afghanistan flying through the desert in a chinook helicopter, its sort of normal because the war has been going on for ten years, so you don’t really feel like WOW! is this ever strange! You cant really say that’s the strangest thing on tour when its something that Jessica Simpson’s done. How strange could it be you know?

Yeah, very true.

I think some of the strangest things are sometimes likes, and this maybe a non-answer though the more I travel there more surprised I am at how similar everything is, how every city is not that much different than every other city. As you get older you get more surprised of the lack of strangeness and weirdness, obviously there’s cultural differences in say Australia, right you go over there, its amazing to go over there, it’s exciting to see the Opera House and to look at the Indian Ocean and all those things, but then you know you’re drinking a Starbucks in the morning, using the same ATM card, and your phone works exactly the same, your checking your emails the same.

Ahhhhh! That’s true it gets boring.

Then you to go Canada and all the cities in Canada look the same, the street lights are the same, people listen to the same shitty music on the radio, watching the same shitty TV shows and watching the same shitty movies, that becomes the sort of strangest thing, that’s all the fucking same everywhere you go. It’s frustrating because you wanna go see something and come back with some amazing stories on life on the road, but its always seems to be a disappointment at the end of the day.

I tend to look for the things that disappoint me more than things that make me happy. I seemed to be tuned into the things that suck and that’s sort of a problem I have. I will come back from an amazing tour and spend allot of my time going “well it wasn’t really that different, its all kind of like Vancouver” that’s true with everywhere, whether you’re in Florida, Toronto or Ottawa or London England, its just all the same shit.

BHAHAHAHAHA!

And the internet has ruined the world in allot of ways, people like to think of how great it is that we can all communicate with one another, we can see everything and its taken allot of that mystery out of the world really, all this information being shared so quickly it really has a dramatic impact. When I was a kid  in 70’s and you would drive around small towns, every small town you got to were completely different, you would drive into the town and you would have no idea what to expect, you were gonna find some little shops, some little “mom and pop” operation, you know independent stores, now all the architecture is all the same, and corporate restaurants and shit.  You roll into town and eat at a Cracker Barrel, its all a disappointment to be honest with you and irreversible as well. It’s sad how much we ruined everything.

Let’s talk about the pranks, this was a huge part of your life. Look at Jackass who were heavily influenced by you. Seems like stepped back and you’re doing the funny-smart talking now.

I just have always had a tendency to not do something that every body is doing. Like the reason I was going down the street with a video camera in 1994 and doing all those crazy pranks is because there was nothing like it on TV. But now there’s like old ladies doing pranks, you got a million shows that are going out and they’re doing all my old pranks again, the ones that I did that I had never seen anyone do before. Now you can go on a network and watch Betty White doing it.

Thats all your fault though you created it all in a way!

Well I don’t really think of it as a problem for society, I mean if people like them and they laugh! I just don’t think I will do that full time, I’m not saying that I wont do it again.

I got my video camera and starting to do way more video work and a weird sort of documentary style stuff on tour that I’m going to shoot while I’m on tour, I still love doing videos. I just am not going to go through the same things that I already did for ten for ten years, cause it only would it be repetitive, but its not surprising, and if you’re not catching someone of guard or getting a reaction then whats the point?

I find with stand up, being a bit older I have more opinions I guess about the world, I have a desire to kind of talk about things that I haven’t really been hearing anybody talk about in the mass media. That to me is interesting to kind of dissect the media, and society with ideas and not necessarily you know falling down on the ground in a funny costume, and trying to get a reaction from someone on the street, which you know it’s hilarious though it was really funnier in 1995, 96, 97. We were doing it because nobody had ever seen anything like that before, it was way funnier.

Absolutely!

I don’t think people really remember all those videos I did, they’re funny now when you look at them, though they were way, way funnier in 95, they were shocking then and nobody had ever seen them before, that was the real laugh to me. It wasn’t the reaction of people on the street, it was the reaction from the whole country when it would go on MTV, there hadn’t been a Jackass or a Fear Factor then, or Punk’d. or any of these kind of shows, Jamie Kennedy, or Borat. None of that stuff had been on TV. People we’re kind of watching it befuddled, shocked, confused, surprised and laughing. I can’t go out on the street and pull these kind of pranks now, its impossible, everybody has done it already, its a genre now.

They must have been really exciting days back then?

The thing that’s weird about it honestly is, at the time OK,  it was exciting though when you’re doing it you had this vision, this idea of something you want to create, and I will say that its do the things that’s nobody is doing right now. yeah it was exciting that’s the perfect word for it, especially when things started to really gel a and people started to take notice, the thing that was cool is that and more importantly of what I’m trying to say is that, to go out on the street and get an electric wheelchair and dress up as an old man and go and crash into stuff, like you know I did that already, though I’ve seen multiple TV shows doing the exactly the same thing. For me to go do that again, grotesque pranks and drinking until you puke is cool though, I got more than that now.

Nice!

You remember there was no reality TV doing pranks on your parents right? That was way before The Osbournes, The Kardashians, before Bam and before anybody was doing that stuff. So you know people would come up to me and say “are those your real parents?” They couldn’t comprehend that someone would do something to their parents that would make them that mad. We weren’t living in this world where you could turn on the TV and watch and John and Kate scream at each other, watch The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills screaming at each other. The only reality was the real world.

And by the way I love, well I don’t love real house wives though I like The Osbournes I think that show was hilarious and obviously I love Jackass, I’m friends with allot of the guys from the crew, especially Steve O he’s a good buddy. I think that they did something pretty different and unique anyways.

The thing is I mean when you say that, I mean we all love Jackass though to be honest, when you say they’re different, that’s kind of humble.  I mean its cool we all love the show though lets say, we all have our inspirations whether it’s in music, art or from the TV. I really wouldn’t say it was different, I think they just took at up a notch in hurting themselves more.

Well I mean if you look at everything that I have ever done and everything they have ever done, you’ll see there’s about 100 things that are exactly the same. Also there’s some stuff that I did that’s a completely different style, and stuff they did thats a different style too. I mean and that’s cool, I’ve done some stuff that I saw David Letterman do you know, he would yell at his office with a megaphone, you know thought it was annoying so I would walk around the street with a megaphone.

OK. I see what you’re saying. 

I think its sort of important to look at people who did things before you, and to get inspired by them. I find it very complimentary. It’s like hey they liked that, swimming with sharks, or waking your parents up, it’s complimentary and cool.

I look at people like George Carlin, I’m very inspired by a guy like him, did comedy his whole life until his 70’s, he wouldn’t get up on stage like some pussy who would tell goofy jokes on air travel, he was dissecting what was wrong with the government, with society with the bullshit in the world, and to do that your whole life is inspiring to me. Were all sharing information and inspiring people.

The thing about stand up, there’s no gimmicks to it. You can go anywhere with it. With pranks there are rules. what are you going to do that’s shocking this days? Some porn with murder, some snuff films? There’s nothing to do that’s shocking with video comedy. With words you can shock harder, you can talk about things that nobody is talking about. Maybe the entire the entire political system is fucked in this country, maybe were all being ripped off by the system

I just read a book by Richard Belzer who just became a friend, got to know him the last few weeks. He wrote a book about the JFK assassination, and Robert Kennedy, you read it and you start to realize, holy shit. You know Sihran Sirhan the guy who shot Robert Kennedy had an eight barrel gun, but then you listen to the recording of the shootings and there was 13 shots that went off. There was a second gun man that was never caught, so allot of really strange questions with all of these things. So then it makes me step back and think, why has the media not really covered that? They don’t talk about a whack of things.

Absolutely!

One of the things I talk about in my stand up is our addiction to social media, how everybody is happy with their own Iphone and nobody really comes out and says, hey is something that’s not cool about the fact that every single human being in the fucking world now has a fucking computer in their pocket. That everybody is stuck on it all day, checking it every day and texting away, distracted, not talking to each other. Not connecting properly with their fellow human beings. Not talking to one another.

Yeah man its lame!

You know being able to photograph and invade each others privacy, put that out for everyone in the world to see, No one ever really comes out and talks about that. You know I love CNN and Anderson Cooper, though nobody has ever come out and gave a real hardcore piece and suggest that maybe everyone should cancel their FaceBook page, because hey its cool to stay in touch with grandma and shit, though here’s 70,000 things that really, really suck about it. Is it borderline unethical and maybe we should be discouraged by it? Nobody ever does that in the main stream media because they’re trying to promote their Facebook page. They are trying to build a following for their pages and their twitter, so they can get more views and better rating and make their show more money. It always goes back to money. I mean I have a Twitter account, though these people and channels end up with all these self promoters, are they really concerned about the fabric of society, and whats going to happen to all of us, or are they concerned about good ratings?

Aha! Hmmmmmmm!

In stand up you can get away with talking about things that are serious like that, and just making them really funny. When I talk about scary people thats shouldn’t be on Facebook, and what it was like when I was a kid when you had one telephone in your kitchen, and that was the only way you could communicate with the outside world, was through one phone in your kitchen.

The point is what the hell are we doing man! When I was a kid and I wanted to take a girl out on a date, I would have to go up to her and ask her for her phone number right? You have to ask her name first, then you get her phone number then when you get her phone number you have to call her house and probably talk to her father, just to talk to her you would have to talk to her father first man.  So the father would answer the phone, he would hear your voice and he would judge whether or not  you were a respectable person from the way you talk to him, you know because you know you would have to earn the respect, none of that anymore. No it’s all instant and that’s fucked up man, and the pornography!

Allot of porn out there!

I’m not a conservative guy, when I was a kid you have to really fucking work to find pornography, really work. Now its like its like I cant imagine whats in these 10 and 11 year olds heads, if that was in my head at the age, I mean I think I’m fucked up now though I would be waaaaaay more fucked up if I had seen that stuff as a kid.  If I was looking at stuff like I am now when I was 12 I would be fucked right now, more fucked than I am!

BHAHAHAHAHA!

Everyone is gathering our information, they’re tracking us, every move. The new cars that are coming out, they got this Ipad touch screen things in them, as if texting is not distracting enough, now you got an Ipad in your car. Insurance companies will know how fast you’re driving and jack up you rates, they’re gonna tell if you rolled a stop sign. It’s too much fucking information.

Nobody on TV really comes out and on TV and says is it really cool that you can buy a coffee at Starbucks by swiping your Iphone? What happens when we cant buy books, it’s ok we will read them on our Ipads, what happens when we cant buy things with cash? Why will we need cash? Well then how a we going to buy drugs? What we going to do trade a stick of butter for some weed? How are you going to buy weed with no cash, on your credit card? You don’t turn on the TV and see Charlie Rose doing talking on this you know?

Absolutely. Doing this all on your standup you can use it as a vehicle without sounding too much like a conservative.

Republicans love all that, they want to control us. They don’t want people to buy marijuana. If you get rid of cash they will be able to control that too. That’s the thing about comedians, you’re either left wing or right wing. I’m Canadian and I’m neither. I personally think the whole thing is a big scam. They put on these debates, they put two guys arguing with each other, basically the the winner is the guy that’s most convincing and comfortable, you know its pretty controlled. Saying the liberals are full of shit, the republicans are full of shit, how about the whole thing is full of shit. That’s why I love people like George Carlin, he would talk about this illusion and that you have a choice in America, which I call the world.

One part in your stand up you talk about protractors and liquid paper, it made me feel like a boy again so I went out and bought a set. Thanks for that.

Yeah it’s a compass by the way, I was calling it a protractor though its a compass! A compass is a thing you screw the pencil in and draw a circle with it.

Oh OK!

A protractor is something is, actually, I forgot… google it for me and tell me what it is. It’s one of those circle things.

OK. Got it! A protractor is that half a circle ruler thing. Its in the same set I bought.

Yeah It’s in the same set that you and another completely pointless piece of material that you never need to use adult life for anything.

So you are working with the Trailer park boys on a a film with their new Swearnet project?

It’s a hilarious movie! The Trailer Park boys are awesome and friends of mine, Mike Smith (bubbles) hit me up and asked me if I wanted to come up to Canada and be in their movie, which has a lot of parallels to my web show in many ways, they’re actually starting an Internet web show called Swearnet also this year. The movie is about the making of Swearnet which is really cool, and they just wanted me to be in it, so I came up to work with them in St Marie, Ontario for about a week. It’s been shot and its going to hilarious, its shocking in some of the scenes. I don’t want to give anything away, remember what I said early about you can do things that are shocking anymore?

Yeah?

I take that back because they did something in that movie that shocked me top be honest with ya! Its not something I did and something they did, and it’s crazy is what it is, I dunno its so crazy it might not even make the cut. Its pretty crazy man!

Whats been the most memorable piece that you did?

It’s really hard for me to pick the one favourite thing, its a hard question you know. I would say the Slut Mobile, pornography in my parents car got a reaction, that was the one of the first sort of more elaborate pranks that we did, we put some effort and some time into it.

Though also my stand up special and my show, that’s just been but on TV, I really love that. To me its just about, you know trying to keep going and keeping things alive, keeping the dream alive of just being creative and pushing boundaries consistently. The first few bits we did in the show, I have so many amazing memories about those years, and I’m having a great time right now putting all the Public Access Show stuff on my YouTube channel.

Yes there is some rare footage on there on your YouTube Channel!

It’s changing pretty quickly. I got tape storage facility here in Los Angeles where I basically got everything I have ever shot, raw early footage and everything, I got thousands of of hours of stuff, so were gonna be uploading more and more. I’m just starting to do that all now. Full time were doing it everyday, I’m going to also be peppering it with new stuff, though going through all of it has been amazing to be able to sort of go back in time, for me its like a time machine to go back 10 or 15 years ago, and laugh at the stuff. I think that’s the thing that I am becoming amazed by, I’m fucking 41 years old now, I’m a fucking middle aged man now, I’m like an old man now, like an old guy now! That’s crazy!

Yeah but you don’t look old though!

Well that’s good I mean, the amazing thing what I love is the fact that I’m still doing it and having a great time.

 

Check out tour dates in your home town HERE  And the fucking halirious Tom Green Youtube Channel HERE

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2 Comments

  1. Jennifer Mulkins

    December 19, 2012 at 12:14 am

    He’s still pretty hot!

  2. Kates Box

    January 25, 2013 at 1:24 am

    yeah I would let him go down on me.

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