Tom Green talks about what sets Canadian comics apart and his new show on Prime Video
Tom Green believes there is a big difference between Canadian and American comedy.
The funnyman and former star of the “The Tom Green Show” says Canadians aren’t afraid of acting, looking or even being silly, and that concept is in stark contrast to our southern neighbours.
“In Canada, we have a more silly, sincere and less angry edge to our comedy,” Green said in an interview. “I think there’s a little a bit more of a brutal edge to American comedy. My problem with comedy today, honestly, is that it has almost become about people getting up on a stage and just complaining about the world.
“As far as Canadian comedy, I think we’re less concerned about trying to look cool. Certainly my comedy, I was never trying to look cool,” he said.
Green is one of the stars of “LOL: Last One Laughing Canada,” a spinoff of an Amazon Studios international franchise in which 10 of Canada’s best comics are brought together for six hours to try to make each other laugh. The one who goes the longest without cracking walks away with lifetime bragging rights and a $100,000 donation to the charity of their choice.
Green is part of what executive producer Erin Brock calls “the dream cast.”
“This was 100 per cent who we wanted,” she said in an interview. “Obviously we had other ideas if we didn’t get everybody, but this was always the dream combination.”
Besides Green, the contestants include “Kids in the Hall” member Dave Foley, “Kim’s Convenience” star Andrew Phung, improv legend Colin Mochrie, Caroline Rhea (“Sabrina the Teenage Witch”), Debra DiGiovanni (“Humour Resources”), Mae Martin (“Feel Good”), viral YouTuber Jon Lajoie, newcomer Brandon Ash-Mohammed and “Letterkenny” stalwart K. Trevor Wilson. Actor and comedian Jay Baruchel hosts.
Green said the decision to join the show was a no-brainer.
“They called and asked me to do it and I just said yeah. Simple as that.”
The actor and filmmaker might have an edge given his experience with reality competition. Green was a contestant on “Celebrity Big Brother” in which, despite being Canadian, he was voted America’s favourite house guest. He also competed on “The Celebrity Apprentice” with former U.S. president Donald Trump. But for what it’s worth, he says “Last One Laughing” is incomparable to his previous reality stints.
“It doesn’t feel like reality television as much as it feels like an improv comedy show. We’re all comedians and we’re all performing. We’re trying to make each other laugh and not laugh. Whereas on ‘Big Brother,’ it’s more about putting a bunch of people in a room and then just leaving them there for an extended period of time so that people get irritable and argue with each other.”
Brock, whose credits include “Canadian Idol,” “American Beauty Star,” “Canada Sings!” and “Big Brother Canada,” said she was surprised the show — which was developed in Japan with versions in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Mexico, India and Brazil — has only now come to Canada.
“What makes a great show is something that you can explain in a sentence: professional comedians in a house where the last one to laugh wins money for their charity,” said Brock. “I have no idea why Canadians hadn’t thought of this before, but we’re all hitting ourselves now.”
For Green, “SCTV” and “Kids in the Hall” were among his favourite Canadian comedy shows for their “outrageous” and “goofy” bits.
The Pembroke, Ont., native said that his country’s legacy of producing outstanding silly comedians like Jim Carrey, Mike Myers, John Candy and Martin Short speaks for itself, but the outrageousness that turned his influences into household names has been missing in recent years.
“I sometimes feel that a lot of that sort of silly absurdity is not as common as it was when I was growing up and starting to do standup.”
That “silly absurdity” is something the comedian hopes will help him on “LOL: Last One Laughing Canada.”
For all of the contestants, the key requirement is finding techniques to avoid laughing — or even smiling.
Jay Baruchel hosts the Canadian version of the international hit comedy series LOL: Last One Laughing. The six-part competition series pits 10 of the best comedic talents against each other in a showdown, where anything can happen. Starring Caroline Rhea (Sabrina the Teenage Witch), Debra DiGiovanni (Humour Resources), Dave Foley (The Kids in the Hall), Jon Lajoie (The League), Tom Green (Road Trip, The Tom Green Show), Mae Martin (Feel Good), Colin Mochrie (Whose Line Is It Anyway?), Brandon Ash- Mohammed (TallBoyz), Andrew Phung (Kim’s Convenience), and K. Trevor Wilson (Letterkenny).
“This show had an entire truck dedicated to what we call ‘laugh spotters,’” Brock said. “Every comic had a producer who watched them the whole time. The minute they saw a laugh, they put their hand up. Then we reviewed it before Jay hit the button (to indicate an infraction).”
Brock said there was also a plan in place in case no one cracked a smile on shoot day.
“We had challenges and things that we could do.”
K. Trevor Wilson prepared techniques that included inverting his lips and even chewing on them to ensure he didn’t break, but he also received some sad news just before filming began.
“When this show came across my desk, I almost turned it down because my father was in the hospital with cancer. He unfortunately passed away two weeks after the show had wrapped,” Wilson said in an interview.
But the Toronto native said it was cathartic being with the cast.
“I went into the show thinking I wasn’t going to laugh just because I wasn’t in the comedy headspace. I just needed to do something to get my head off of what was going on,” he said. “It gave me a moment to recognize that for everything that was going wrong, I was really lucky to be at a point where people thought my name belonged amongst their names.”
Green said he clenched his teeth at various points during the day of filming, but that was primarily to remind himself that he was in a game.
“I started thinking, ‘Maybe if I can just knock some people off that will be another way to be here longer.’”
The hardest part was not laughing at his own material.
“When you do standup, you sometimes want to deliver something in a very deadpan way even though you know it’s hilarious. Sometimes you even laugh at your own jokes as it can also be effective, but sometimes it can blow the joke too.”
One of the highlights of the show is Green’s love of cheese sandwiches, both to eat and to make competitors laugh.
“First of all, I make a mean grilled cheese sandwich. I butter the outside of the bread and then I fry it. But going back to an early age, I have always found that certain words have a funny cadence, alliteration and rhythm to them. I like to overenunciate ‘cheese sandwich’ because that to me has always been funny.”
Green says the simplicity of sandwich jokes is also why the show will be a hit.
“It’s a reprieve from the politics and the division that we have in our society. A reprieve from arguing about vaccines and mask mandates. Let’s just sit around and watch some people laugh and throw cheese sandwiches at each other.”
Hear hear Tom.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION