Ladies and gentlemen, the founder of modern planking: Mr. Tom Green:
Every couple weeks at Humber, we have guests, people who have achieved a recognizable amount of success in the comedy industry, come speak to us about their experiences in the business.
Last week was no exception. What a treat to find out Tom Green would be taking a break from his stand-up tour to come talk to us Humber comedy geeks! #fun, right?
Now let’s be honest, I’m not the #1 hugest Tom Green fan of all time. BUT, as a friend (and former girlfriend) to some pretty huge TG fans, it’s fair to say I’ve been following his career for a long time now, I guess since he had his show on MTV. I feel like one of the few people in the Humber crowd that remembered his marriage to Drew Barrymore and his battle with testicular cancer (two issues that were, to my surprise, NOT brought up in the Q&A!) In fact, I’d even met him before, in his hometown of Ottawa. He was doing a book-signing for Hollywood Causes Cancer at the Chapters on Rideau. I told him he had a nice suit. It was pinstriped. I should probably read that book.
ANYWAY. Let’s rewind. Tom Green, Mark Breslin pointed out, is one of the founders of shock humour, reality television (of the non-sociological-research-based-variety) & comedy-rap. He was so influential in Canada that Macleans once had to decide between featuring Tom Green or Jesus as a cover-story! (They went with Jesus, btw.)
He’s like the precursor to Ali G-type stuff in that he started subverting what TV is and going places TV hadn’t gone before. (Humping a dead-moose, WHAT?) Tom Green tapped into the American zeitgeist and started doing stuff that set the precedent for stuff like Jackass and a bunch of other crazy MTV stuff. And for what? Because he’d consciously taken note of the funny that comes from unsuspecting people’s reactions to bizarre situations.
Right? We love that shit! That’s one of the reasons shows like The Office are as funny as they are!
Sidenote: The main reason I’m writing this is so I can use words like subvert and zeitgeist.
Tom Green encountered some pretty significant difficulties seeing eye-to-eye with the higher ups in Hollywood, who didn’t really understand his vision. One of his bits of advice to us was to know where to draw the line between keeping your vision intact and handling the bureaucracy of the industry. (Presuming we ever get that opportunity. Fingers crossed)
Another was to separate yourself from the rest with your hard work.
Green admitted he never wanted to be a big-shot movie star, that he was given creative control of Freddy Got Fingered and that that’s why the movie is how it is. His ambition was to be a Letterman-style talk-show host, and now he interviews celebrities on his Internet TV channel at tomgreen.com.
He’s also returned to his roots, touring the world performing stand-up comedy. (Tom started doing stand-up at 15, performing at Yuk Yuk’s in Ottawa!) I probably should have gone to check out one of his sets, but I was performing one of my own last weekend and I wanted to make sure I was prepared for that.
(It went really well, btw.)
Another great experience with an influential comic, thanks to Humber College. (If this is the kind of stuff my tuition pays for, it’s totally worth it!)
Stay tuned, as one of my future posts will tell you the tale of the exclusive performance of Andy Kindler for us Humber kids at Comedy Bar!