Friday, January 15, 2010

Tom Green Comedy Tour Atlanta Debut & Review

About a week ago, I was excited to learn that Canadian comedian Tom Green planned a return to Georgia.

The "Freddy Got Fingered" and "Road Trip" star tonight launched the U.S. leg of a "World Standup Comedy Tour" at Atlanta's Funny Farm Comedy Club in suburban Atlanta (just north of B.F.E., er, in Alpharetta, Ga., to be exact).

I've always enjoyed Green's off-beat humor, particularly his "Tom Green Show" bits, occasional appearances on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" (in particular, one segment he filmed at then-client B.C. Canada Place in Torino during February 2006, and, of course, this scene from one of his films (sorry, this YouTube link does not set up the scene with its tearful father-son goodbye).

Unfortunately, for the $25 ticket price, plus standard comedy club two-item/drink minimum, and the loathsome drive "Outside The Perimeter" ("O.T.P." for local Atlantans who reside in town), Green did not deliver the goods in his live comedy tour debut.

Though Green's live show has some potential to be great, it needs a lot of work before Comedy Central or any other network is going to come knocking for a TV special. (By the way, Chris Rock's most recent tour is now in rotation on Comedy Central and worth a look -- hilarious!).

On the plus side, the biggest laughs for Green were some you might expect. First the Drew Barrymore jokes. Then the testicular cancer/one-nut jokes. And then Green rolled out some of the script from "Freddy Got Fingered" and "Road Trip" -- all mostly fun and funny. His facial expressions do induce hearty chuckles on their own.

Things finally got funnier when Green launched into a few digs about reality TV, his own recent antics on "The Apprentice" and apt observations on American TV watching habits -- mostly bad habits and TMZ drivel (I happen to agree with Tom's remarks on this front, and hungered for more swings at paparazzi). My favorite was Green's take on the fate he wishes for "American Idol" flash-in-the-pan stars versus icons of rock'n'roll like The Rolling Stones (bravo, Tom!).

Probably the most original lines of the show were Green's descriptions of male adolescent anticipation, circa 1985 (pre-Internet), of the arrival of the Sears Catalog, and how in the same era the only way to find porn (other than the "PG-rated" stuff via Sears lingerie and swimsuit pages) was to discover discarded adult magazines in the woods "with sunlight shining down through the leaves lighting the way" (a lot of the mostly-Thirtysomething male audience members were nodding and nervously laughing in agreement).

But you could tell Green was struggling when only half-way through the performance he succumbed to audience pleas to "sing the 'Bum Bum' song" or "say the line about [fill in the blank from any of Green's films]." Of course, he did, briefly, pick up a guitar and start to play, but only the one recycled tune (well, at least a line or two from it).

It was disappointing that every time Green seemed to be on to something new and funny, the train of thought pulled back to (especially by 2/3 through the show) overused lines from past works.

When Green lamented, guitar in-hand, that for his big screen films, he only came up with the "Bum Bum" song, he seemed to be perceiving his own missed opportunity. On stage tonight felt right to debut an original tune for the tour, but missed opportunity again prevailed as Green put away the guitar after only a few bars.

The same thing happened when he feigned launching into a rap tune -- first time, something from the past. Second rap-song cued, Green held back sans delivery of new material. Near the end, Green asked the bartenders for a real drink, which he pounded; it was difficult to tell whether this was a panic move to buy some time and regroup versus a planned part of the act.

The appalling final lines and prop for the show, though not entirely predictable, retreated again to the past -- regrettably the intended shock and awe actions only seemed to resonate with part of the crowd (with some polishing this could be a huge crowd pleaser for future shows).

To his credit, Green and his opening act (a Dallas-born stand-up comedian with some potential that may be realized via this tour) took time after the show to shake hands or pose for photos with audience members and sign autographs. Green even made time for a quick backstage video interview (unfortunately, batteries kaput -- yours truly sucks at remembering to install new batteries), during which I got in three questions:
  1. Where will the "Tom Green Comedy Tour" go next? (this part made it on video before the batteries died)

  2. What is Green's take on the Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien actions of late, considering Green used to appear on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" as a correspondent? (Green took the high road on this question, stating only he "loves those guys")

  3. What was Green's favorite memory or experience related to the Olympics, considering his aforementioned work for "The Tonight Show" in at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics? (Green answered "meeting you" before giving me the most patronizing high five and disappearing into the kitchen of The Funny Farm -- lame).

Should you see Tom Green's Comedy Tour? If you're a hardcore fan who wants to hear Green retread old material, knock yourself out. Here's hoping tonight's lackluster debut was just a warm up for better things to come -- Green has the goods. Just needs to deliver them better.

Image via Tom Green

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