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Tom Green Is (Sort Of) Friends With Drake Now
If you were born before, oh, say, 1995, then chances are you know this TV jingle by heart: "This is the Tom Green show / It's not the Green Tom show / This is my favorite show / Because it is my show."
Thanks to his deadpan, deeply sardonic sense of humor, there was a point in pop culture history where comedian/musician Tom Green was everwhere. In the early aughts especially, you couldn't escape him: If his bum wasn't on the rail or the cheese (or all alone), Green could be found performing gross-out stunts (like sucking on a cow's udder) on The Tom Green Show, which initially aired in Canada in the mid-'90s before being picked up by MTV in 1999. Or he'd pop up in major motion pictures like his own Razzie-winning Freddie Got Fingered, or the 2000 Charlie's Angels reboot alongside then-wife Drew Barrymore. A music fan from an early age, he often worked songs into his comedy sketches; his most famous one, the aforementioned "Bum Bum Song" actually had to be retired from MTV's "Total Request Live," it was so popular. Other artists got in on the act as well; rising hip-hop titan Eminem famously parodied "The Bum Bum Song" in his own early-days single "The Real Slim Shady."
But it wasn't as though Green didn't have his serious moments. In 2000, Green showcased his testicular cancer scare in a televised MTV special, where he mused over the idea of being diagnosed at such a young age and showed the entire surgical removal of one of his testicles.
What his American fans may not have realized, though, was that Green had been making the entertainment rounds for years in his native Canada. Starting in the early '90s, Green enjoyed a short-lived career as a rapper in a group called Organized Rhyme; the group's single "Check The O.R." was nominated for a Juno Award in 1993 for Best Rap Recording and won the MuchVibe Best Rap Video award in 1992. Later, on The Tom Green Show, he rolled out winking joke tracks like the aforementioned song about tushes and a semi-serious, health-conscious one called "Hey Kids, Feel Your Balls."
Nowadays, Green can be found doing standup, coming very, very close to winning the second season of Celebrity Big Brother, and promoting his recently released compilation album, also dubbed The Tom Green Show, which features a selection of new tracks, like the Auto-Tuned "I Wanna Be Friends With Drake" and the post-punk "Far 2 Young 2 Die," and some beloved comedy routines and bits from his best-known shows and movies.
The Recording Academy called up Green at his Hollywood home to chat about some of his new endevours. In our conversation, Green looks back on his still very active comedy career, why he doesn't mind at all when people approach him on the street yelling "DADDY, WOULD YOU LIKE SOME SAUSAGE," and how he's that much closer to actually being friends with Drake.
You’ve been doing mostly standup these days. To what extent do you weave your songs into that onstage material?
I did do a tour that was a music tour about a year or two ago, up in Canada. I performed some rap songs, and some funny songs while I was doing standup, and I intermixed it. Usually, when I'm touring right now, it's a strictly standup tour.
I do have this new album out that I put out on vinyl with Ship To Shore Media, which is a really cool label. They approached me about putting up some of my songs that I recorded at home on vinyl. Now, when I do my standup shows I play my music after the show, before the show, and I sometimes walk on stage to some of the songs. It's strictly a standup show that I'm doing right now. I am working on some music that I think will be good for live performance, so maybe next year I might start incorporating some music in.
Oh, cool. I always liked the way you wove music into your routine as an entertainer. I wondered, though, with the vinyl release, why you opted to reuse the name The Tom Green Show. That name in general seems to come up a lot over the course of your career, no matter the medium.
One of the things that's fun about the record is, I took a lot of, not specifically just from the TV show, but several things from the TV show. I took samples that I incorporated into the music, so I have some clips, and moments that happened on The Tom Green Show.
Really, it's meant to be sort of a fun, collectible thing or people who have been fans of mine for the last 20 years or so. I took soundbites from some of my movies, some of my shows and my standup comedy. I sampled them all in with music that I've been doing. It just felt like a cool title for it, because it is sort of scrolling back through a lot those moments from The Tom Green Show.
Yeah, you seem so comfortable throwing back to your most widely recognized material.
I've got this incredible fan base that stuck with me since, you know, in Canada it goes back an extra 10 years. The Tom Green Show started in 1989 in Canada. People know my song from my group, Organized Rhyme, which is a rap group that we were nominated for the Canadian GRAMMY, a Juno award. I was nominated for that in 1992, when I was just a kid.
When I go tour, and do standup, I'll have people that come to my comedy show that know me from my standup. The younger people, or some of the older people will me from The Tom Green Show. Then, some people are there because they're fans of my movies like, Freddy Got Fingered, or Road Trip. Now you have people [who] have just seen me recently on Big Brother.
I have a lot of different people coming to my show. I always try to sort of reference certain things that people remember. When I walk around America, or Canada or anywhere in the world, really, every day someone will come up to me and say something that's a sound bite from the show. Every day someone will come up to me and say, "My bum is on the plant." I'll be walking through the airport, and someone will walk up to me and say, "Daddy, would you like some sausage," or, "I'm the Chad," you know, from Charlie's Angels. There's so many little things that people remember.
I like to have fun with it. There was always sort of a musicality to some of the comedy in the show. Whether it was, "Daddy, would you like some sausage," or "Plastic bag, I've got a plastic bag," or, "It's none of your damn business where I'm going." There was always sort of a musicality, and a rhythm to it.
I just thought it would be really cool with this record to incorporate some of those rhythmic, sort of funny sounds and sound bites, and put them in over hip hop beats and stuff. My standup is a lot like that too. My standup comedy, my new material that I'm doing now, jokes that I'm telling, and things that I'm doing now are all very much in that rhythm. I've always had sort of this silly kind of cadence to my comedy that sort of is a bit musical.
Maybe it comes from the fact that I was rapping when I was younger. That's why I called it The Tom Green Show. I wanted to tie it all together with this record.
Well, I’m glad to hear it doesn’t, uh, bum you out when someone approaches you with a 20-year-old reference.
No, not at all. It's completely the opposite, to be honest with you. This is what you really dream of happening, right? You want people to have things that they love, and remember and want to come see you for. Anything that sticks in people's heads for 20 years, that's just a real bonus, you know? I feel lucky that I've been able to connect with people that way, where I come up with memorable things.
You know, people remember the theme song of the show, [sings] "This is the Tom Green Show.” They remember sort of the rhythm to it, you know? I think that's something I've always really felt like I had a sort of a knack for, which is coming up with catchy melodies and rhythms.
In the video for one of your newer songs, "I Wanna Be Friends With Drake," you appear to receive a phone call that may or may not be from Drake. So, inquiring minds want to know: Are you friends with Drake now?
Well, it's funny. I've never met Drake before. But, I'm going to be friends with Drake. I want to be friends with Drake, and I'm going to be friends with Drake.
Why is it imperative that you two become friends?
Well, first of all, I'm a big fan of his music. It's the kind of music I like to make in my studio. I like making sort of ambient-sounding hip-hop beats, and use the synthesizers, and drum machines and all those kinds of sounds. Modern, and vintage, techno and electronic, and hip-hop sounds, you know?
I was a rapper in Canada back in the early '90s. That's how I started, and I'm a huge fan of that kind of music, and I'm proud that we've got an amazing international number one hip-hop artist from Canada. There were never any hip-hop artists that really made it outside of Canada for many, many years. Then, finally, finally we've changed that, so it's really cool.
Yeah, I want to be friends with Drake. I'd never met him, and I'd like to meet him. I think he's pretty busy right now with the Raptors right now.
He had no idea I was putting out the song, or anything like that. But I do think that maybe he heard about the song, because about a week after I released the video, he did follow me on Instagram. So you could say that, in theory, I am now friends with Drake.
Since you are such a hip-hop fan, do you recall your reaction to Eminem referencing “The Bum Bum Song” on “The Real Slim Shady”?
Yeah. It was awesome. I thought it was really cool. I think to put it in context as well though, he was a brand-new artist. He had "My Name Is," the song came up first, which I loved.
Nobody knew for sure that he was going to become this huge, iconic artist that would go down in the annals of hip-hop history as one of the great MCs of all time, you know?
I could tell when I heard the song that it was amazing, because I love hip-hop, and specifically Eminem. I grew up performing in Organized Rhyme. We were always trying to do funny raps, you know?
Back then, Eminem's rap were really funny. It was just before he got serious later. I loved it. It's funny, because at the time my show was really big on MTV, just came out of nowhere. I just heard it on the radio one day and I thought, "Oh that's really cool. That's hilarious."
At the time, there's so much new and exciting stuff happening with the show and I was doing films and all of these things. It just became one of the many things that was going on in my life that was kind of overwhelming, and bizarre, you know?
"The Bum Bum Song" was number one on "Total Request Live." Road Trip was the number one comedy. I was shooting movies, and making new TV shows and things were exciting. If you'd told me at the time, this song's going to be one of the biggest songs of the last 20 years, you're going to hear this playing in an elevator in Sweden in 20 years, and it's going to be coming on the radio for the rest of your life I would've thought, "Oh, that's pretty cool."
One day, Eminem actually did a full parody of me one day where he took over MTV dressed as me, and went out on the street with a fake goatee on, and a megaphone.
Another track on the album, "Far 2 Young 2 Die," has a rather post-punk, Joy Division vibe. Joy Division, of course, lost its lead singer at an early age. Is that parallel intentional, or am I reading too far into this?
You know, I'm a huge fan of Joy Division, and, like, one of my favorite bands that I would listen to if I'm listening to music. I listen to, a lot of different types of music. Honestly, when I started building my studio, I just, I wanted to try to make different genres and different types of music. I thought it would be interesting, since I'm building a recording studio to try to record, and write some rock, and punk music. The kind of music I grew up listening to as a skateboarder.
Joy Division's definitely one of my favorite bands. Definitely an inspiration for that. There's another video we just shot. It's called "Deliberate Dignity," which is a similar sound to that song, different style. We shot a video for that in Vietnam while we were over there on my tour this year. That hasn't come out yet, but it's going to come out soon.
I don't know. I try not to overthink it too much. When I wrote the lyrics, I get inspired by lots of different things. I like writing raps. I like writing sort of lyrics. I sometimes just sort of think about my own life, and being a cancer survivor, and having sort of a pretty clear sense of my own mortality because of the things that I've been through with dealing with cancer.
At an early age, I think a lot about life and death. I talk about that a lot in my standup comedy.
Yeah, you’ve been cancer-free for for some time, correct?
Oh yeah. Well, with my cancer I've been completely cancer free, and cured for over almost 20 years.
Once you've gotten through the first three or four years after you have testicular cancer, then you're cancer-free. It's no more likely to come back as it is for anybody who's never had cancer.
That's a relief. It's still just the shock of having had cancer, and when you get it and you go through a five-year period at a young age where you really thinking about your mortality, and you're going in and getting follow-ups, and you're worrying about this at an age that you normally don't have to worry about that stuff. It does make you start to examine life differently, you know?
Absolutely. Before we wrap up, can I ask—how did you end up deciding to star on Celebrity Big Brother?
Well, first of all, it started out when they asked me to do it. I had not even yet thought about doing it. It never really had occurred to me that there was a Celebrity Big Brother.
First and foremost, I love television. I built a TV studio in my living room, you know? I did a web pop show here for years. I love cameras, I studied broadcasting in college. I'm a technical person, and it just sounded like a very interesting thing to just sort of see how it all worked. Then, you step outside of that. It also seemed like it would be a funny place to go try to be funny. You're on CBS and you get to be on TV 24 hours a day. It seems like it'd be perfect for me, because I've always loved goofing off in front of cameras and stuff like that. Doing my comedy at my house, I've had cameras in my house before so it shouldn't be too tricky.
Then, at the same time it's like, yeah, it's a great whole new audience of people that may have never even heard of me before, and I'm touring the country do it standup, so it's a perfect forum to just get out there and connect with America.
I think we're living in a world today where everything is so fragmented with the Internet, with Netflix and social media, and people are on their phones all day, and no one's really watching any one given television show, you know? You can't be too picky. I just do everything. Someone asks me to do stuff, then I'm going to do it. Unless I have a real problem with it creatively, I'm going going to do it, because it's gonna be fun and interesting. It ultimately helps me with what I'm doing, which is getting the word out about my comedy.