When did the Prince of Pranks become the Duke of Disgruntlement—but a rather entertaining one?
Actually, it’s been since 2010, when standup comedy beckoned to renowned cow-udder-sucker and dead-moose-humper Tom Green (surely you’ve seen him perform these cutesy-classy acts, among countless others, on TV). Now, though, he’s bringing it to Las Vegas in bulk, commandeering the Vinyl stage at the Hard Rock Hotel for shows that commenced earlier this month and continue through late April (next date is April 4).
Those who only know Green as the young, bug-eyed string bean who built a career running behavioral norms through a comic shredder could be thrown off guard by his middle-aged standup persona as a curmudgeonly (albeit impish) traditionalist with a “whatever happened to the old days?” rant. (Even as he paces the stage, Green, at 42, seems to shuffle haltingly, as if fending off an attack of lumbago. Would you like a heating pad, Tom? Bengay, perhaps?)
Think: late-stage George Carlin on training wheels. Or Lewis Black Lite, with a Black-like tendency to hammer the punch line by SHOUTING IT. Yet while Green doesn’t veer far from familiar fodder for comic grumps, he’s a pretty on-target grump.
On technology obsession: “Someone could post a suicide note on Facebook, drink antifreeze and get 28 likes before the poison kicks in.” On the hysteria over school bullying: “It prepares you for what life will be like. John F. Kennedy said life is unfair—and that was before he got shot in the head. That guy knew how to make a point.” On sampling exotic Vegas cuisine: “I went to an Ethiopian restaurant. I didn’t think they had food in Ethiopia.”
Other topics include porn addiction (riffing on one female body part accommodating three male body parts … at once); airport security (X-ray machines that see through your clothes, but not the shoes they make you remove); and teachers sexting students (a hilarious routine about what a teacher would have to do, pre-cellphone, getting photos developed at a store and dropping them in the mail).
Plus a de-rigueur dig for Canadian-born comedians: “My dad was a captain in the Canadian army. He looked after the tank.”
Had it not been for a few vintage Green throwbacks—select videos (remember him turning his dad’s car into a “slutmobile” with lesbian porn painted on the hood, or threatening to munch on a mouse?) and encouraging the crowd to shout out lines from his notorious flick, Freddy Got Fingered—you wouldn’t know that he was once the mystic pooh-bah of hip weirdness.
Everybody’s got to grow up, including the class clown. No one would call Green’s act blazingly original or even daring, the latter more descriptive of the stunt-freakishness of his youth. Maturity has its perks, however, and one of them for Green is going beyond the sensory and the visceral to reach the relatable.
That’s where we all live. And it’s Tom Green’s career address now.
Got an entertainment tip? Email Steve.Bornfeld@VegasSeven.com.