Algonquin Commons Theatre hosted alumnus Tom Green for a raunchy and aggressive stand-up set Saturday night.

Tom Green

After a brief stint as a Juno-nominated rapper, Green rose to fame through shocking and outrageous prank videos, broadcast on a local public-access cable channel before being picked up by MTV. As a stand-up comic, Green’s delivery is similarly abrasive, crass and physical.

He took the stage Saturday without any apparent set-list, instead taking cues from crowd interactions, berating audience members, and masterfully cutting down many a deserving heckler (trust me- they deserved it). Alternating between physical, observational, and insult comedy, Green provided idiosyncratic insights into airport security, nuclear apocalypse drills, white-out, and Canadian hip hop beefs (back in his Organized Rhyme days, Green was involved in a feud with a group hilariously called “The Little Rascals”).

Among other things, Green was sharply critical of the information age, reminiscing back to a pre-internet world in which international news was disseminated by schoolchildren hopping out of cedar trees. Later on, he quizzed an unsuspecting couple on their Facebook habits before casting them in a paranoid narrative about emotional infidelity that went on for several cringe-worthy minutes (tip: never sit front-row-centre at a Tom Green show).

Green also provided an absurdist view of air travel, reflecting on his experiences with singing TSA agents, X-ray scanners, and overly grateful passengers (once in every ten flights, he noted, passengers applaud upon landing, “like it’s 1926 and they’re all relieved”).

The largely-improvised show was short on anecdotes (with one notable exception involving an obscene Tom Green Show prank, parental estrangement, and a redemptive Oprah appearance) and the laughs relied heavily on oddball delivery, withering retorts, and discomfort. It was as close as stand-up gets to a virtuoso performance; brutal, hilarious and never less-than-compelling.

As far as I’m concerned, this is the kind of extra-curricular content that Canadian post-secondary institutions need more of.

Comedian Patrick Coppolino opened the show with a solid stand-up set. The best bits involved Hamilton hazing rituals, Nashville accents, ghostly imaginary friends (“he’s nice to me,” Coppolino’s young daughter apparently explained, “but he won’t be nice to you”), and Tim Hortons doppelgangers.

 

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