Tom Green gets gross on MTV
Sicker than ''South Park,'' the comedian gives the traditional talk-show format a licking
Every late-night talk show needs a gimmick — Johnny Carson had Carnac, David Letterman has the Top Ten list, and as for the host of MTV’s The Tom Green Show, well, let’s let him tell you: ”I want to chloroform my parents and fly them to Bangladesh,” says the 27-year-old Green of his ultimate fantasy gag. ”Then we’d rebuild their house and put them in their bed. They’d wake up in the morning like everything’s normal — washing, having a shower — but then they’d walk outdoors and it’s all [attempts to approximate a Bangladeshi folk tune] neeee-yo-oooool!”
Mr. and Mrs. Green, get your passports ready, because as Canadian TV viewers have known since 1994, your wacko son is a master at creating screwy comedy by thrusting himself and innocent bystanders into absurd situations. And now that MTV has smuggled the crazed Canuck’s antics across the border, there may be no limit to the havoc he can wreak. Combining man-on-the-street madness with in-studio stupidity, Green’s show (which comes with two sidekicks: the much-abused Glenn Humplik, and Phil Giroux, who literally just sips coffee and laughs) melds the vigorously out-there comedy of the moment (South Park, the Farrelly brothers, Mr. Show With Bob and David) with the squirmy you-are-there directness of a Fox reality special. The resulting hybrid — call it Freaky-Ass Moments: Caught on Tape! — divvies up the insanity into four categories: Smart-Aleck (Green commandeers a department store PA: ”Mom? Mom? Where are you, Mom?”); Slapstick (a bandage- and cast-covered Green repeatedly trips over his crutches on a crowded sidewalk); Parental Torture (he’s painted his folks’ house plaid and turned his dad’s car into a ”slutmobile” by airbrushing an explicit lesbian sex scene on the hood); and Gross-Out (eternal guinea pig Humplik is forced to munch a pickle that may have been soaked in urine). If it sounds a little creepy, that’s the point.
”When you watch somebody reacting to me walking into a store and pouring mustard down my throat, you feel their discomfort, but you’re in the comfort of your home enjoying watching people in really awkward situations,” says Green. ”When I’m sucking milk out of a cow’s udder, that’s not intended to get a laugh — it’s more [to provoke] disbelief. And it’s a good way to teach people about nature.”
Despite the educational aspect, MTV still wanted the show. Green sealed the deal last fall with a presentation to execs in which he calmly showed a highlight reel and then, according to MTV’s John Miller, senior VP of development, ”put shaving cream all over his face and gyrated on the ground as if having an epileptic fit.” At last, a live-action hero for the Beavis and Butt-head crowd. Says Miller: ”The audience is watching Tom and saying ‘This is the kind of stuff my friends and I would do — if we had more balls.’ ”
Comedic cojones have never been a problem for Green. ”The week we left [Canada’s] Comedy Network we’d gone completely insane,” says Derek Harvie, Green’s childhood friend and writing partner. ”We were sawing dead raccoons in half, making cow-brain boats, literally flinging spoonfuls of semen on Glenn’s shirt. It was like weird Cuban porn.”
The Tom Green Show