GIGGLE CITY: Tom Green plays the Peanut Butter Game
No, wait – that last one wasn’t supposed to be funny. Or was it? What Tom Green has done for modern comedy isn’t really clear. There’s no one to compare him to. Perhaps somewhere between the late Andy Kaufman and Steve-O – a guy we never really know is putting us on or not, sometimes not even knowing whether it’s funny. And after such a rich history of zany stunts, how does Green top himself now? With the most difficult, ridiculous, amazing stunt known to man … stand-up comedy!
Seriously. In the past two years since he took to the live stage after a long history of wacky television, Green has truly found his comedic voice, relying more on his wits alone than props or disgusting tricks. At least that’s the story – and he’s sticking with it. Green performs a three-nighter at the Comic Strip starting Thursday, May 5 (buy tickets here).
Q: If you had to be any celebrity – that is, any other celebrity, who would it be and why?
A: That’s a tough call. I’d have to think about it. You mean I’d be forced to be a celebrity? Can we come back to that one? I don’t know that I’d want to be any of them.
Q: Charlie Sheen for a day?
Q: What’s your best heckler story?
A: It was a crazy situation in Australia a couple of years ago. I’d play guitar while I was doing my show. I don’t do that anymore. At one point, someone yelled out, ‘smash the guitar!’ And I made a joke. I said I can’t because it’s a rental. And it was. It got a laugh and I tried to move on. He goes, ‘smash the guitar, you pussy!’ And I thought, oh, geez, I think I almost have to smash the guitar now. So I grabbed the guitar and smashed it into a million pieces, and it got a huge laugh. It was really, really funny. Crazy. I walked off the stage and the tour manager looks and me and she says, ‘that was a $3,000 guitar.’ Why’d they have to rent that one? I thought it might’ve been $500, tops.
Q: Do you have a favourite joke you don’t do anymore because it’s stale?
A: I’m always shuffling things in and out, moving jokes out after I’ve done them for a while, trying out new material. I do topical things, especially about the city where I’m performing, and I’m focusing now more on social commentary. Everything I do is stuff I’ve written in the last two years. I’m touring non-stop so I’m writing all the time.
Q: Do you think you have to be a pessimist to be an effective comedian?
A: Yeah, I do, actually. You’re picking apart the flaws in society, and some people, if they’re so optimistic, I think don’t even see the flaws. I like to think I’m an optimistic person, but sometimes it’s impossible. I say sometimes and I mean 50% of the time, and I tend to be the sort of person who focuses on the stuff that sucks. At the end of the day so much comedy comes from tragic situations. Bad things happen to everybody. And when you come in and make fun of that, it’s a real tension release for people. That’s where the laughter comes in.
Q: Do you have a new bit that’s going over particularly well?
A: One thing I’ve been enjoying, and it’s not on stage, is something I call the Peanut Butter Game. When I roll into a city, I go to some public landmark, spread peanut butter on it, take a video of myself doing it and upload it to Twitter – @tomgreenlive. Whoever finds the peanut butter, you take a picture of yourself by it, and tweet it back to me, and then I retweet it out. The winner gets tickets to the show.
Q: Do you have to lick it?
A: No, but you can, though.
Q: This is a question just for you: You’ve done a lot of crazy things over the years. Is there any stunt that you think you should’ve have done?
A: Almost everything we did was something we shouldn’t be doing. If I put on my sane, rational human being hat, there’s probably lots of things I shouldn’t have done. Do I regret it? No, I would do it all again. That was the point. We were testing the limits of what was considered sensible behaviour.