Comedy - Tom Green's 'adrenaline rush'

After years in the spotlight the entertainer finds his home on stage

When Tom Green first took on America, the public largely didn't know what to think.

The Canadian writer, rapper, and entertainer was crass, wild-eyed, and completely unpredictable. It's what made his movies, including Freddy Got Fingered, both outrageously popular and downright offensive to some. And yet, that unpredictability is precisely what keeps his fans coming back for more. Although his days of college-age movies such as Road Trip are not quite behind him (he has three films in production), Green has returned to his roots in stand-up.

"You don't really get the adrenaline rush that you do in stand-up working in films," Green says. "Getting back into stand-up ... has been very exciting and life changing, actually."

When he's not performing on his world tour, Green's been busy working on his show, "Tom Green Live," on AXS TV, and keeping his Twitter followers on their toes. Creative Loafing spoke with Green about his upcoming two-day stint at the Improv and his favorite kind of beer. One guess: It has his name on it.

Let's go back for a moment to your early days as a comedian. How did you get into stand-up, and what brought you back to it after such a long hiatus?

I started doing stand-up when I was 15 years old, and I did pretty good for a 15-, 16-year-old kid. Then for the next 15 years I was doing various versions of "The Tom Green Show," and basically a few years ago I started doing a talk show on the Internet Tom Green's House Tonight. As I was doing the show around the world, I was getting so much feedback and I realized I wanted to get back into stand-up. I just started jumping up on stage around Los Angeles again, writing and having so much fun with the way the audiences would respond to me. And within six months I was on a national tour. The shows were selling out all over the country. It was the kind of thing when an opportunity presents itself, without me trying to do it. It's been very exciting and life-changing, actually.

Like you said, you got involved in stand-up comedy at a pretty young age. Do you think growing up on an army base had an effect on your sense of humor?

I think it definitely had an impact, for sure. I grew up with a much different outlook because I had a much more regimented society. It made me question things a little bit. You know, when you have a sort of authoritarian army captain father telling you to get in line all the time, it makes you want to rebel. I got into skateboarding, punk, and hip-hop music. I was excited to embrace the creative life.

What do you want viewers to get out of your stand-up? You've said before that you don't go for the "easy laugh."

Well, we're immersed in the Internet and technology. So much of the social media is affecting our lives, and that's very interesting to me. I've paid attention to technology my whole life. It's a different era with a whole lot of different material to talk about, material that, you know, George Carlin never got to talk about. You know, Facebook and Instagram and Twitter, how it's driving us all nuts. It's kind of neat to be able to take on some new subject matter that nobody's ever gotten to talk about until now.

You've led a whirlwind life in the public eye, from being on the cover of the Rolling Stone to marrying Drew Barrymore. What's been the most surreal for you?

The most surreal moments were when I was a guest on the "Late Show with David Letterman." I remember that was like an out-of-body experience for me; I couldn't believe I was there. I was so new to the idea of being in show business. I couldn't believe that I was actually invited on the show. Then a few years later I was able to host "Letterman," which was an unbelievably surreal experience, and I also got to host "Saturday Night Live," which was also incredibly surreal.

Do you ever get nervous when you go out on stage?

Oh yeah, always. I think it's what really drives the performance: the anxiety, the adrenaline. I mean, if you were not nervous then you probably wouldn't have a very good show. Because you want to get that energy up, that adrenaline works your energy up, and you take that energy and push it into the performance and channel it into the right places to capture the audience. The nerves are what power it, for sure.

Tell me a bit about the television show you're working on, "Tom Green Live."

Well, I can tell you for the past year I've been working with this great network called AXS TV. The show's a talk show that you can watch online. We just finished our 46th episode of that show. Basically, I interview the most amazing guests — like, last year I interviewed Dan Rather, Weird Al Yankovic, Larry King, Steve Carell, Howie Mandel, and many, many more. ... Generally I talk about things that are developing. You know, the way this industry works is unpredictable and always developing. A project at any given time could disperse. TV writers, producers, we never really know which part will connect with the network. So usually I wait until projects are actually in the can and ready to come out before I start talking about them. But there's a lot of really fun things that I'm working on. I have a movie that I'm working on called Iron Sky: The Coming Race, which will be coming out in the spring. There's also a movie I'm working on called Total Frat Movie, which is kind of like a Road Trip-style college movie. So I'm still doing films and we're working on TV ideas, but my main focus is ... my next comedy special, which I'm writing now.

What do you enjoy more, personally: being in movies or performing stand-up?

Definitely performing stand-up. Just like I was saying earlier, the adrenaline rush you get from going on stage. ... You don't really get an adrenaline rush from being in films. It's a much more controlled environment. It's so meticulous ... just long days of waiting around for one scene with a couple of lines. I mean, I love making movies and I love making television. It's a technical craft. But stand-up is amazing.

So in 2013 you released your own beer, a milk stout called the Tom Green Beer. That's pretty awesome.

Yeah, it's my favorite beer! It's available right now only in Ontario, Canada, and in New York state. It's just been really cool to have my own beer.

We have a handful of really great breweries in Atlanta. You planning on visiting any of them while you're in town?

I'd really like to do that. What would you suggest?

Sweetwater is definitely the most popular, but there's also Red Brick and Red Hare, which are a lot of fun, and also Monday Night Brewing is really good.

Yes, yes. Sounds excellent. I will definitely be doing that.

If fans wanted to meet you after your show, how would you suggest they go about it?

You know, it's pretty easy to meet me after the show. We sell some T-shirts and have a beer and hang out, if anyone wants to come over and take a picture to put on their Facebook page or what have you.__

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