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One of the most polarizing figures in comedy during the late 1990s and early 21st century, Tom Green performed jaw-dropping acts of bad taste that alternately delighted and repelled viewers of his Canadian variety series, "The Tom Green Show" (Rogers Television 22/The Comedy Network/MTV, 1994-2000). Green's brand of humor was assaultive, extremely surreal and frequently repulsive, with dead animals, deranged verbal tirades and childish outbursts among his stock in trade. The show's no-holds-barred content made him a star in his native Canada before MTV picked it up for broadcast. Green enjoyed a brief tenure at the top of the Hollywood lists before the buzz petered out after a 2000 bout with testicular cancer ended his series and his 2001 feature "Freddy Got Fingered" was demolished by critics. After also famously marrying and divorcing actress Drew Barrymore, Green retreated to hosting his own talk shows online, where his humor was tempered by genuine interviews with other celebrities. More importantly, the format and media gave him complete creative control, which he wielded with frequently amusing results for his diminished yet loyal fan base.
Born Michael Thomas Green on July 30, 1971 in Pembroke, a city in Ontario, Canada, he was the son of retired Army captain Richard Green and his wife, Mary Jane, a communications consultant. Music and comedy became his major passions from an early age; at 15, he was performing at stand-up comedy clubs, and he hosted a hip-hop program on CHUO, the campus radio station for his alma mater, the University of Ottawa. Green's show was immediately followed on the broadcasting schedule by an electronic music program hosted by Glenn Humplik. The two became fast friends, and they soon joined together as hosts of "The Midnight Caller," an overnight call-in show in which Green and Humplik would poke fun at callers. The show soon became a hit among college-age listeners in Ottowa. Green then took a stab at becoming a rap star in his own right. He performed under the moniker "MC Bones" in the humorous hip-hop group, Organized Rhyme. The outfit achieved a modest degree of success with its debut album, 1992's Huh? Stiffenin Against the Wall, which included the MuchVibe Award-winning single "Check The O.R." Conflicts with their label over the album's comedic content led to their disbandment in 1993, and Green moved on to focus on his television career.
His onscreen debut came with "The Tom Green Show," a low-budget, sketch comedy series-cum-reality-show produced for Rogers Television 22, an Ottawa-based community cable channel. Co-hosted by Humplik, the show's format took its cues from "Candid Camera" (ABC, 1948-49/NBC, 1949-1951/syndicated, 1951-54, 1974-79, 1991-92/CBS, 1960-67, 1987-88, 1996-2001) and "Late Night with David Letterman" (NBC, 1982-1993) with its loose collection of absurd comedy bits and assaults on average citizens. Green would harass passers-by with bullhorns, interrupt take-out deliveries or invade stores dressed in women's clothing. Where the show exceeded the limits of its predecessors was Green's willingness to break through the boundaries of taste for a laugh. He simulated sex with the corpse of a moose, placed dog feces on a microphone that he would thrust into the faces of unwitting interview subjects, and performed comedy routines with dead animals. Green's parents were often on the receiving end of their son's most demented bits. At various times during the show's network runs, he left the severed head of a cow in their bed, painted a pornographic mural on their van and visited them with Monica Lewinsky in tow. Green's antics, which were frequently delivered at the top of his lungs and with eyes bulging from their sockets, made him a cult hero among young Canadians, whose rabid fan worship drew the attention of The Comedy Network in 1997. The fledgling broadcaster picked up "The Tom Green Show" for stateside airing that year before MTV purchased the rights to the series in 1999.
After "The Tom Green Show" began airing on MTV, Green became something of an overnight sensation. Critics were alternately shocked or amazed by his behavior, but U.S. audiences lapped it up with as much fervor as their Canadian counterparts. Chart-topping rapper Eminem cemented his status as a pop culture icon by mentioning Green repeatedly on his hit single "The Real Slim Shady." Green himself would release his own successful song, "Lonely Swedish (The Bum Bum Song)" a berserk catalog of toilet jokes that vaulted to the top of MTV's "Total Request Live" (1998-2008). By 2000, he had made the leap to motion pictures, playing fringe characters with only a tenuous grasp of reality in "Road Trip (2000), "Charlie's Angels" (2000) and "Stealing Harvard" (2002). He also landed a high-profile Hollywood romance with Drew Barrymore after she asked him to appear in "Angels." The two were quickly engaged and toyed with the media and public about their impending nuptials. At one point, the pair appeared to go through a mock wedding during Green's stint as host of a 2000 episode of "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ). The couple would actually tie the knot on July 7, 2001, but filed for divorce less than six months later, thus bringing to a close one of the quirkier celebrity romances of the new millennium.
As was often the case with stratospheric ascents, Green's career stalled almost as quickly as it began. In 2000, he ceased production on "The Tom Green Show" after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He later wrote and directed a documentary about the experience, complete with graphic footage of his surgery, called "The Tom Green Cancer Special" (MTV, 2001), which earned praise from the mainstream media for its sober and frank tone. However, fans were bewildered by this new, serious Tom Green, and false rumors circulated that his show had been cancelled after a sketch in which he appeared at a bar mitzvah dressed as Adolf Hitler. However, Green's return to performing generated some of the worst reviews of his career, if not of any film ever produced. "Freddy Got Fingered" (2001), which Green directed and co-wrote with longtime collaborator Derek Harvie, also starred Green as a cartoonist who returns to his childhood home to rethink his life and career choices. When his father (Rip Torn) dismisses Green's decisions, he mounts a campaign of revenge that results in his parents' divorce and his father's arrest for child molestation. The subject matter, along with scenes in which Green whirled a newborn infant above his head by its umbilical cord, engaged in sado-masochistic sex with a paraplegic (Marisa Coughlin) and eventually caused his father to be sprayed by elephant semen, resulted in some of the most vitriolic negative reviews ever printed in mainstream media. The picture was a flop upon release, but found a small but loyal cult audience in the years that followed. At the 2001 Razzie Awards, Green himself accepted each of the five trophies bestowed upon the film.
Green returned to his core followers at MTV for "The New Tom Green Show" (2003), a traditional talk show with Green interviewing a variety of guests. Critics were nearly unanimous in their praise for the show, which saw Green temper his outrageous screen presence and focus on an irreverent but decidedly calmer tone that was not unlike David Letterman. Fans, however, were not interested in this shock-free version of Green, and the show was axed after just 11 weeks. Seemingly undaunted by its failure, he refocused his energy into a wide variety of projects for television and online media. In 2006, Green returned to the talk show format for "Tom Green Live!," a talk show filmed in his own Hollywood Hills home and broadcast on his website, TomGreen.com. Though essentially a traditional chat format, it also incorporated elements of his past work, including verbal sparring with callers, conversations with a foul-mouthed ventriloquist's dummy, and indulging in a four-hour debauchery session with stunt performer Steve-O, which ended with both men passing out. Green later began syndicating a shortened version of his show on The Comedy Network, and revamped the program to include a small audience. The new program, titled "Tom Green's House Tonight," eventually became part of a paid subscription service for viewers so that Green could cut out corporate sponsorship. Both versions of the program were widely praised by critics and viewers, and earned several awards, including Best Web Talk Show from TV Guide and a Webby Award for Best Variety Show.
In addition to his talk show, Green was a frequent correspondent for "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" (NBC, 1992-2009, 2010-13) that saw him take the straight man role in interviews with unusual people across the country. Green also briefly revived his rap career by releasing two albums, Prepare for Impact (2005) and 2008's Basement Jams while performing with various rappers on his talk show. Green was also a contestant on several reality competition shows, including "For the Love of Ray J" (VHS, 2009-2010) and the 2009 season of "The Celebrity Apprentice" (NBC, 2004- ), which saw him fired by Donald Trump after showing up late for a challenge after spending the previous night carousing with fellow cast mate Dennis Rodman. There were also occasional returns to features, albeit mostly in low-budget projects like the 2005 comedy "Bob the Butler" and 2008's "Shred." In 2009, he re-launched his stand-up career, which saw him performing comedy and rap at venues throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.
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At age seven, family settled in Ottawa (date approximate)
Won a school speech competition in grade six (date approximate)
Began working as a stand-up comedian at age 15
Hosted the radio program "Rap Show", a community college radio show that started out as a rap music program and evolved into a comedy call-in show
After signing to A&M and scoring a Juno (Canada's equivalent of the Grammy) nomination, Organized Rhyme disbanded
Returned to the radio, changing the format from "Rap Show" to the comedy talk program "The Midnight Caller"
Debuted "The Tom Green Show" on Rogers community cable, an Ottawa public access channel where it ran for three years
"The Tom Green Show" aired in a shortened half-hour format in NYC on the public access Manhattan Neighborhood Network
The popular local series was picked up by Canada's The Comedy Network, where it aired nationally for two seasons
Had a cameo in the Canadian independent film "Clutch"
Brought out the rotting carcasses of a long dead raccoon and squirrel while appearing as a guest on the Canadian talk show "Open Mike" (also on The Comedy Network), causing host Mike Bullard to leave the set and a public outcry against Green's "shock comic" persona
"The Tom Green Show" aired on MTV
Had a cameo in the film "Superstar", produced by Lorne Michaels and directed by Kids in the Hall alum Bruce McCulloch
Landed a sponsorship deal with Pepsi One
Four days after surgery to remove a cancerous testicle, accompanied girlfriend Drew Barrymore to the Academy Awards
With Derek Harvie, co-wrote the screen comedy "Freddie Got Fingered"; also starred and made feature directorial debut
Acted in "Stealing Harvard"
Headlined the MTV special "Tom Green's Subway Monkey Hour"
Returned to MTV with the all-new talk show "The New Tom Green Show."
Hosted the Fifth Annual Golden Trailer Awards show
Will host "Tom Green Live" a weekly call-in show on the web at ManiaTV.com live from his living room in the Hollywood Hills