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Tom Green: Cringe comedy, improvised

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By William Loeffler
Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010
 

He's the guy who put a live mouse in his mouth. Ozzy Osbourne• Not quite. It's Tom Green, the writer, comic and actor whose tasteless and confrontational video stunts for MTV in the '90s anticipated both reality television and "Borat."

Green brings his one-hour stand-up act to the Pittsburgh Improv on Friday and Saturday. He also will perform a special Valentine's Day show on Sunday.

"I've done 25 hourlong shows within the last month," he says. "I talk about the media. I talk about what I find ridiculous about the world. I talk about my career and a little bit about my personal life."

Speaking of his personal life, he's patient when asked if he's still in touch with Drew Barrymore, who he was married to for five months in 2001.

Not really, he says. Next question.

"We were married for five months, we got divorced and I've never seen her since."

If that experience was painful, so was the critical tar-and-feathering he got when the movie he directed and co-wrote, "Freddy Got Fingered," was released. The 2001 comedy starred Green as an unemployed cartoonist who moved back in with his father, played by Rip Torn, and his younger brother. When his father tries to throw him out, he spreads rumors that Freddy was sexually abused. Thus, the title.

If that makes you cringe, just imagine the studio executives at the screening who watched Green swing a newborn baby by its umbilical cord. It's nothing worse than you'd see on "South Park," but Green's reward was to win five Golden Raspberry Awards, including Worst Movie of the Year. He was one of the few recipients who actually showed up to accept his award. "Freddy" recently was nominated for another Razzie for Worst Movie of the Decade.

"I wasn't trying to make 'The Jazz Singer,' " Green says. "I wanted to make the craziest movie ever made."

Born in Ontario, Canada, Green tried stand-up comedy while attending the University of Ottawa. He also recorded rap songs with his group, Organized Rhyme. In 1994, he created "The Tom Green Show" on public access television. A typical stunt involved duct-taping steaks to his face, dubbing himself Meathead and interviewing unsuspecting passers-by. MTV picked up the show, which debuted in 1999 and ran for two years. Nothing was off-limits to Green, whose stunts encompassed the iconoclastic sting of the Dada movement with the "Is-he-kidding?" approach pioneered by the late Andy Kaufman.

In one episode, he took Monica Lewinsky out to dinner and played it perfectly straight, just as Kaufman might have done.

In 2000, he documented his battle with testicular cancer with a squirm-inducing "Cancer Special" for MTV.

Green says he hopes to release a director's cut of "Freddy" someday, along with deleted scenes. Meanwhile, he's looking to develop his Internet talk show, "Tom Green's House Tonight." He hopes to incorporate live streaming from his tour and bring in guest hosts like Norm MacDonald and Fred Durst.

Additional Information:

Tom Green

When: 8 and 10 p.m. Friday; 7 and 9 p.m. Saturday; 7 p.m. Sunday

Admission: $22 Friday and Saturday; $35 for Valentine's Day show on Sunday, includes champagne toast

Where: Pittsburgh Improv, Waterfront, Homestead

Details: 412-462-5233

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