Who couldn’t use a good laugh? Seriously. Too much work going on lately and not enough play! Mark your calendars for next Friday, March 14th and get to our sister property – Harrah’s Philadelphia! Longtime comedian Tom Arnold has recently returned to the stand-up stage where he got his start 32 years ago, and will be giving you all he’s got at The Event Center!
We were lucky to have the chance to catch up with Tom about the show and so much more earlier today. A lot has changed for him since his last go-around, most notably becoming a father and dropping nearly 100 pounds just this past year. In fact, he was literally getting his fitness on while on the phone with us, biking and chatting up a storm! Now that’s dedication! Check out the interview, below.
TAC: What can fans expect from your show at Harrah’s Philly next Friday?
Tom Arnold: I’ve been doing stand-up for 32 years. I talk about what’s been going on in my life at this time. I’m pretty honest. It’s intimate doing stand-up because it’s not on TV and it’s not on the radio. I share things that I wouldn’t share publically, but it’s fun. It’s also great because I’m at a great point in my life, so looking back on all my mistakes is a little funnier. I talk about being a new father, an older father, losing 100 pounds and just taking it one day at a time. People seem to have a good time and I love it.
TAC: And your wife is from Philly! Are you looking to do anything fun while you’re back in the area?
Tom Arnold: For the last 11 months, I have eaten sterling good. One of my favorite things is cheesesteak sandwiches and over that time, I’ve had the opportunity to try different “versions” of cheesesteak sandwiches, turkey or whatever. I’ve always passed on them because I thought if I was going to do it, I was gonna do it right. If I’m in Philly, then I’ll do it! If not, I’m gonna pass on this crap! So when I land at the airport, I’m going to go down Geno’s and Pats because I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. That way I get it out of my system!
TAC: Perfect! Equal opportunity! What made you want to return to your stand-up comedy roots again?
Tom Arnold: It’s something I’ve always loved. I think everything good that has come out of my career has come from stand-up. It was the first thing I ever did. It makes me a better actor, it makes me a better writer, and a better performer. I get nervous before every show. I’m like these folks paid to spend their night here, so I better entertain them. It’s scary, but it’s great. There’s nothing better.
TAC: Is there anything about doing stand-up again that has surprised you this time around?
Tom Arnold: When I started up again five years ago, my first goal was to do another cable special. The first three minutes of my set were people trying to figure out if I was a jerk or if I was going to trash other people. Once they realized I don’t do that, I could feel people relax and it was just great. If you’re expecting me to just dog people, you’re going to be disappointed. I do address quite a few things, but it’s mostly just making fun of myself.
TAC: Unlike most stand-up comedians, your shows are never scripted. How are you able to make this successful for you?
Tom Arnold: I always have an outline, but you have to be able to ad lib. Now that I’m coming to Philly, this is special. I’ve had a lot of good experiences there and a lot of crazy experiences. You’ve got to personalize it. You also have to be able to go with the flow and make it seem like you’re improvising the whole thing. I have a little structure, but definitely don’t have everything written out. I know what things I want to get to. Like a band would say, we have to play the greatest hits. I will get to those things!
TAC: Your career has taken you from stand-up comedy to a sitcom writer to an actor and host. What has been one of your most favorite projects you’ve tackled over the course of your career so far?
Tom Arnold: I loved doing the sports show. I did Best Damn Sports Show Period for three years. I loved it because I’m a sports fan and got to be creative. If I could have been one of those big stars that just does movies that are all big hits, I would have done that, but I’m not. I’m a character actor and I’ve starred in movies that didn’t work out, so I do that, I write, I do stand-up, host and a lot of different things, but I think it’s actually more fun. In a perfect world, I would be George Clooney, but I do a lot of different things and I enjoy it.
TAC: And what has been one of your least favorite?
Tom Arnold: I’ve done 115 movies and probably 4 good ones! I’ve been blessed. My first job out here in LA was writing on the Roseanne show for six years, that’s crazy! That’s crazy to be that lucky. And my first big movie was True Lies. That was a big hit. I think I probably accepted too many roles and I have regrets on a few, but I’m also really grateful. There are a lot of jobs that I accepted before my son was born that I probably wouldn’t now. When I weigh being away versus being home with him, I’m a little more cautious. I could give you a list of things, but at the end of the day you end up having fun or meeting someone. Roasts are tough, though. I did the Roseanne roast on Comedy Central which was good, but I also did a Joan Rivers roast and I don’t like roasts. I don’t like to say bad things about people and I don’t like them to say bad things about me if they don’t know me, so it’s a weird feeling. I did the jokes they had for me at the Joan Rivers roast, but if I ever do one again, it’s going to be personal. I have some regrets on that.
TAC: Your son Jax is almost a year old already! How has being a parent changed you?
Tom Arnold: In every way. I don’t do drugs or drink anymore, but food was my thing. The second my son was born I realized that I have to live as long as I can because I’m his dad. I can’t eat like a jerk anymore, I have to take good care of myself for his sake. You just gotta be a little more responsible. Yesterday, me and my 11 month-old were sat down and told that he can’t pull my hair or bite me anymore which I loved him doing, but because he’s apparently doing that to other people now, so my wife and the teacher really let us have it! We’re going to have to find something else to bond over now.
TAC: What’s something that people would be surprised to know about you?
Tom Arnold: I think it’s surprising that I’m still going! There’s been a lot of times over the past 25 to 30 years where people thought I was done and would never work again, but I’m pretty lucky. I have to get up every day and work and hope things work out and they have. I’m very blessed.
TAC: Absolutely! What’s the last thing you laughed at?
Tom Arnold: This is horrible, but I heard on the radio that Howard Stern got this thing called a squatty potty which is something you put your feet on when you’re on the toilet. The night before last, I went to the restroom and my wife, out of a dead sleep, asked me if I peed on the floor. And I was like what are you talking about? Why would I pee on the floor? That’s crazy! So the next thing you know, I turn the light on and it turned out that I peed on the floor a bit! It made me laugh that she was so insane and woke up out of a dead sleep to say that.
TAC: LOL, darn squatty potty! What else do you have in the works after your visit to Harrah’s Philly?
Tom Arnold: I literally start a movie the next day after I’m in Philadelphia, in Canada. I’m doing more stand-up. I’ve shot a couple pilots for television, I’m writing another book which is great and exciting and just plugging away!