The legacy of Tom Green is one marked by a no-holds-barred approach to bold and often bonkers comedy. A preeminent influence on prank culture on MTV and YouTube, from his web series, to his cult-favourite film Freddy Got Fingered, his comedy walks its own path for its sheer absurdity and willingness to explore the unpredictable. Tom Green talks to us about his third visit to Australia and his current stand-up tour.
You’ve now performed across Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney, how have you found Australian audiences so far?
It’s been excellent, amazing – so much fun. Crowds have been wild and crazy but we’re having a blast. The shows are going really good and I’m having such a great time here with everybody.
What can we expect from you shows, will they have an Australian flavour?
I always try to incorporate a lot of local references, observations and things that I pick up when I’m travelling around. Being Canadian, I like to look at the subtle cultural differences between America, Canada and Australia. It’s a lot of fun for me. I’ve been travelling around the country so I’ve picked up a lot of things, so I’ll definitely weave that into the show.
Awesome! I’m based in Melbourne – where you’re ending the tour – so we will probably get a huge mix of content!
Yeah, absolutely. I’ve had a great time in Adelaide at the Fringe Festival then over to Brisbane. There is really nice review of my show in Brisbane. I’ve just tweeted it, if readers want to hear what I’ve been up to on stage.
The shows are just really high energy shows. They’re really fun shows. I’ve been pretty much touring nonstop for the last 7 years. This is my third tour of Australia, so it just gets funnier every time I tour here. I feel like I’m always developing new ideas, and new styles and concepts. It’s going to be the best tour this time for sure. People will have to come see me in Melbourne!
Some would say your take on comedy was before its time, for example you were one of the first comedians to start a web-based series, do you think comedy culture has finally caught up with you?
You know, I just always try to do my own thing; to do what I’m passionate about. Certainly technology has changed the way videos are shot and distributed. I was pretty aware of that when I was younger and I saw the changes happening – maybe before others did. I started shooting my show with a video camera and distributing it on public access TV.
I think in a lot of ways with my comedy, I try to look ahead where things are going and I’m doing that now too. With the subject matter, with my stand-up, I try to comment on the world and how we’re evolving as a species, [and]how life is in 2016. With stand-up you can really just speak about these things and find comedy in them.
With so much access to video, with everybody having a video camera and access to YouTube and the ability to make comedy, by me focusing on stand-up- it’s really looking towards the future. You can make a comedy video now and edit it yourself on your computer or phone – it’s easy for everybody. But it’s never going to be easy to stand up on a stage and do stand-up comedy for an hour and make a theatre full of people laugh hysterically, more than they have in their entire lives. That’s something that takes practice and skill and is something that I’m trying to focus on. You know, I think that’s the future.
People are ingesting so much information on their computers or phones, that the live experience will be something that will be a big part of entertainment in the future.
Do you think comedy is easier with the power of social media, or has it become too easy to offend?
At the end of the day the show has to be funny. If you get up on stage and you have a hilarious point of view, a great connection with the crowd, that’s ultimately the most important thing. Social media is a good tool to let people know more about what you’re doing.
That’s what great, that I’ve been getting such a great response from Australia. I had the comedian Ross Noble come to one of my shows, he tweeted for all his fans to come.
I can see similarities between the two of you, with your comedy tending to explore the more absurd sides of life?
Yes, absolutely. I love him, he’s amazing. It’s been great. It’s a supportive atmosphere here in Australia, to have someone of that caliber saying nice thing. Also, reading nice things in the paper, we are definitely going to have a great time in Melbourne and lets have some laughs.
As a comedian working in the age of Donald Trump’s campaign, are the jokes too easy or too hard as everyone is making the same jokes?
Well, I try to talk about the things that no one is saying. I’ve always looked at things from a different perspective from the mainstream. I think that’s something unique to my show. I think if you get up on stage in comedy and your saying the same things that every one is saying then it’s not going to that funny. To me, great comedy comes from making people look at the world through a different lens and maybe shedding a difference view.
I’ve had some personal experience with Donald Trump. I was on The Celebrity Apprentice, I was fired in the third episode because I went out drinking with Dennis Rodman on the night I was the Project Manager. I’ve got a lot of funny stories about it that are very unique to me.
As I said before, your humour tends to side with the absurd, what were your comedy influences growing up that kind of shaped how to approached comedy?
When I was growing up I was really into skateboarding, I was really into alternative music and rap music specifically, before it was mainstream kind of music. I would make music. I would get up on stage on do stand-up comedy. I was always gravitating towards things that were non-traditional – outside of the mainstream.
I did love shows like David Letterman, you know back in the 1980’s when he was doing things that were really crazy- doing really cutting edge stuff, also Monty Python. I’ve always had a lot of influences
Are you a fan of any Australian comedians?
I’m just getting to know some of the comedians right now. I’m really looking forward to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, to really get to know a lot of the comedians around here.
Tom Green is performing from today until the 28th March at the Melbourne Athenaeum Theatre as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Get your tickets here.