Interview: Tom Green

On the Gathering of the Juggalos and his rules of behavior
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  September 3, 2010


For a generation of mischievous thirtysomething nihilists for whom no joke is out of bounds, Tom Green is a cultural influence on the order of MDMA and Eminem. The last entertaining MTV character before Jersey Shore washed up, he's our Lenny Bruce, bucking conventions so that the rest of us can fart on complete strangers in public. With his first stand-up tour ever coming to the Wilbur next week, I asked the host of the hugely popular Web-based Tom Green's House about everything from his recent run-in with Tila Tequila and a flock of paint-faced Juggalos to how he saved countless lives with a song about non-masturbatory testicle fondling.

Please tell me about your performance at the Gathering of the Juggalos. Exactly how frightened were you among the riff-raff?
I knew that Insane Clown Posse fans have a tendency to be hostile, so I found out what it is that they're into, and by an hour into my performance, I had them eating out of my hand like zoo animals. It was a tough crowd, but it went extremely well, and I got to film a ridiculous version of Heavy Metal Parking Lot with people who were interesting, to say the least. There was a minority that was there to screw me up, and I just kind of separated them from the rest of the group. I only wish I could say the same about Tila Tequila's performance there — they were throwing bottles at her. I stupidly went on stage to run a distraction, and I thought Tila would get down, but she went on for another 20 minutes, until she got hit in the head with a rock.

As someone who had a lot of success on cable access early in his career, how would you compare the freedom you had there with the freedom you have with your online show or on MTV?
When I started my show on public access, there were virtually no rules — we were just getting used to making videos and coming up with a style. Then after public access and before MTV, I actually did two years on the Canadian Comedy Network, and that was where we got really crazy and started sucking milk out of cows' udders and painting "Slutmobile" on my parents' car. When we went on MTV, there was definitely censorship, and a standards-and-practices department that I had to argue with in board rooms. They would try and take all the crazy stuff out, but after the show got really popular, I think they realized that the gross-out shocking stuff was what people wanted. Some of it was only funny to me, but then other people would think it was funny just because they couldn't believe that MTV was airing it.

What was one bit that executives especially didn't want on the air?
Pretty much everything. When I got sick, they didn't want to document my testicular cancer, which is crazy, because I still get e-mails and letters from people who credit that show [which featured the song lyrics "Hey kids, feel your balls so you don't get cancer"] with saving their life. MTV was so big at the time [2001], and the demographic of my show — guys from 15 to 35 years old — are who get testicular cancer. It's a group of people who would never expect to get cancer, and they all too often end up dying from it. It's had a big impact on my life because of how emotional people get about that particular show.

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  Topics: Comedy , Stand-up Comedy, Tom Green, Tom Green,  More more >
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