Tom surprised the audience by being in the audience. He took to the stage to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.” John Biehler photo.
Ottawa native Tom Green (whose three-part interview with Vancouver is Awesome can be found HERE) destroyed The Vogue Theatre last week as part of Global Comedyfest, where he was headlining as part of his current world stand-up tour.
Tom Green at The Vogue.
By the end of the show, fans of Green’s were not left wanting for more. His humour shines brightest when he is alone on stage with a mic and a guitar. There were definitely people in the crowd (including my guest) whose only experience of him were from his film and TV work, in spit of the fact that Tom now boasts the longest running internet talk show at TomGreen.com As much as I was expecting to enjoy the show – I will admit an enormous bias here – I am being entirely truthful when I say how overjoyed I was to actually have been impressed by it.
John Biehler photos.
Tom suits the stand-up format. He is a talker, a storyteller, an amusing fellow with an engaging take on things … and oh, so many things! Tom took the time to weave his life into the fabric of his show, working the audience up into a frenzy from before he even got on stage. As the lights went down and the opening chords of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” reverberated through the theatre, the spotlight fell clearly on an unassuming Green, sitting nonchalantly in an aisle seat on the floor of the theatre. The crowd went wild (myself included – I had no problem stomping on three people, including my guest, to get a hug) as Tom – one among his people – took his time to give endless high-fives and hugs to an adoring audience as he made his way to the stage.
John Biehler photo.
The show’s frenetic energy waned and mellowed as the set progressed – much like Tom’s career. I don’t mean that in the negative in the least. When Tom first burst into the collective Canadian conscious it was his “craziness” that set him apart; as he has aged and the unavoidable experiences of life have matured him, he has mellowed. Tom’s set was surprisingly… thoughtful. The Journey metaphor is apt.
“MC Bones, yeah. Dude, you’ve said that 500 times!” he deadpanned to one of several tragic Audigier-clad fellows in the front row. Of course, those in the know know that MC Bones was Tom’s MC name back when he was in Organized Rhyme. Tom’s journey and career seems to have played some part in the lives of many people in the crowd, those fans who have followed him and stayed loyal from his time on Rogers Cable through to his meteoric rise as the original prankster on MTV and parts in big screen films like Road Trip and Freddy Got Fingered. Tom touched on all of these career points throughout his set, whether it was playing “The Salmon Song” or breaking into a kick-ass hip-hop riff. Knowing the Vancouver crowd, Tom played to us perfectly and when the issue of one of the provinces more notorious agricultural industries was brokered, several willing audience-members played along and Green found himself pelted by lighters and homemade smokables. Which, much to the delight of the crowd, he lit up. “I’m not stoned after one puff!” he said, before asking for a beer. Then a few minutes later, “Yeah… I’m high.”
John Biehler photos.
“I’m The Chad. You remember Charlie’s Angels? I was in that. I wasn’t in the sequel, though… Yeah, that’s a divorce joke.” Clearly Green is versed in the whole “comedy is tragedy plus time” thing. “I’m 39 and divorced. If you’d have told me that that would be my life I wouldn’t have believed you. My parents have been married for 40 years. I was married for five months.” Although he never mentioned his ex-wife by name (as opposed to that annoying woman in the crowd who kept shouting it out ad nauseum for no apparent reason) we all knew who he was talking about. What we may not have known is how he felt about it, how it affected him, and what he learned from the experience.
Thoughtful not bitter, vulnerable but no victim, Tom touched on many of life’s ups and downs and turning points: from finding an illicit Hustler magazine stash in the woods as a youth to realizing how crappy the current state of pop music is and how Facebook and the internet may be ruining us all…
John Biehler photos.
Through it all what shone through most brightly was Green’s own persona; sharp, sweet, funny and lacking in the kind of cynical veneer present in so many of his contemporaries. That in itself was refreshing and made for a show that left everyone feeling somehow uplifted. During the evening’s most poignant moment, Green recalled how days after moving to Los Angeles he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, recalling how upon hearing the news he went to sit in his car in the parking lot of his doctor’s office, and “praying to God or whoever it is you ask in these situations” to be OK. Sentimental but not sad, Tom’s real experience and his candor created a lasting affect and reinforced his cogent ability to relate to an audience. “If it wasn’t for that and for everything that has happened since, I wouldn’t be here with you all here tonight.”
And what a night it was.
After the show he spent time signing autographs, T-shirts, Freddy DVDs, drawing cheese on some girl’s bum for a tattoo (“You don’t want to do that”) and listening to several young men who felt the (odd) need to share their own experience of masturbating to catalogs (“Really? How old are you? You’re too young for catalogs”) while shooting the action for TomGreen.com. At one point the Dougie Dog people from across the street presented him with some food, which he seemed pleased about after such an energetic show (and, of course, the pot). Tom graciously took some time to plug ye olde V.I.A. with yours truly, who presented him with a T-shirt… awesome.