But these days, the one-time MTV sensation who famously broadcast his testicular cancer surgery on the air has embraced a perspective he calls “conservative.”
“I just talk about things that make me laugh, and that the mainstream doesn’t necessarily talk about,” says Green in a call from Los Angeles. He plays Goodnight’s Comedy Club March 18 and 19.
“You don’t necessarily hear people talk about how Facebook isn’t good and we need to get off it. I like to take on the status quo a little bit. If you see my show, you’ll see it’s very R-rated, I’m swearing and going on about things in a very graphic way, but in some ways it’s very conservative.”
Age has apparently mellowed Green … somewhat.
“I’m starting to feel like an adult, and looking back at life as I turn 40, this changing world,” Green says of his stand-up set.
“I talk about gadgets, and pornography, and I think it surprises a lot of people because I approach it from kind of conservative point of view.”
Though he’s long been a visible figure in the world of comedy, Green’s only been doing stand-up comedy full time in the last year and a half.
“When I was a teenager, I did stand-up—I wanted to be a stand-up comic, dreaming of doing this,” Green says. “It’s been on my mind for the last 20 years, regretting not having done it, because it’s the purest form of comedy in a lot of ways.”
Green says he’s taken to stand-up quickly.
“It’s definitely not as hard as it was when I was 15 and had no life experience,” Green says. “The more I get on stage, the easier it gets. The more I’ve written, the more I’ve realized there are different types of things I can do.”
Those “different things” include embracing the Internet, where he’s been doing a talk show at www.tomgreen.com since 2006.
A number of his videos, including several rap numbers, have gone viral, receiving millions of downloads.
“It’s been an extremely exciting thing for me, because for about 20 years, I’ve been doing comedy in one form or another,” Green says. “And now I’ve got this little independent studio and am interviewing all these really cool actors and comedians and stuff, and to do that and have total control over your show and get as many if not more viewers than mainstream TV is very, very cool.”
His future plans include launching an online comedy network with other creators, and continuing his comedy tours; on the day we spoke, he’s just gotten back from a trip to visit American and Canadian troops in Afghanistan.
“It was a surreal experience in a lot of ways,” Green says.
“It reminds you of how small the world has gotten is in some ways… one day, you’re in North America, the next you’re taking a leopard tank to the top of this mountain and looking through machine gun sights out over this huge valley for Taliban. It was an amazing life experience to get to see all that.”
Though it’s been a while since The Tom Green Show aired on MTV, Green says he feels “liberated” by audience members at his stand-up shows who yell out for “The Bum Bum Song” or lines from Freddy Got Fingered.
“Essentially, that’s the reason why there’s people there,” Green says. “It’s a lot harder to do stand-up comedy when you don’t have an audience. When people come up to you after the show and say, ‘could I take a picture with your bum on me?’ it’s fun, you know?”
We have a feeling some Raleigh audience members might take that as an invitation.
Tom Green appears at Goodnight’s for four shows on March 18 and 19. Visit www.goodnightscomedy.com or call 828-5233