The Jester Interview: Tom Arnold
Arnold may not be thought of as the comedianís comedian, or fit into the
circles of comics at home among alternative rock bands, like Patton
Oswalt or David Cross, but heís got a genial sweetness to him, best
expressed in the 2005 film, ďThe Kid and I.Ē Arnold wrote and starred in
the feature, in which he played a down and out actor who gets a break to
make a sequel to ďTrue Lies,Ē but with a young man who has cerebral
palsy as the star, since it will be financed by the boyís family. That
quality came through when Jester spoke with Arnold on the occasion of
his upcoming stand-up special, ďTom Arnold: Thatís My Story and Iím
Sticking To It,Ē a first for him that will be premiering on Showtime on
New Yearís Eve.
Jester: Howís your co-star from ďThe Kid and IĒ?
Tom Arnold: Heís doing well. Heís doing well. I saw him for
dinner the other night.
J: Do you hang out frequently?
Arnold: He lives close to me.
J: Will there be an update at some point?
Arnold: Yeah, absolutely. I call him to see how heís doing, and
Iíll say, I talked to Michael, a friend of ours and he wants to know how
J: So, have you been away from stand-up for awhile?
Arnold: The last few years Iíve been doing it consistently. I
started back in the early 1980s at the University of Iowa. Then I moved
to Minneapolis for five years and honed my craft, as it were. But when I
moved here [Los Angeles] in 1988, I moved out here as a writer, to write
ďRoseanne,Ē and thatís one thing about doing stand-up comedy, is you
learn how to write. You also learn how to act a little bit. Once I got
into writing the show, stand-up went to the side. I did it once in
awhile; I didnít do it as much.
never had a stand-up comedy special. I had HBO specials that were made
with Judd Apatow, and I wrote sketches and different things. I always
did that. My ex-wife was a great stand-up comic and she got several
specials and I appeared on those. I never had a stand-up special like my
peers. It was definitely on my bucket list. So I thought, ĎCan I do it?í
So I took a night at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles, every Wednesday
night. And I gave myself a year of working there and seeing what the
audience remembered and what they knew and see if I could write an act
and go on the road with that act from comedy clubs to some arenas,
casinos and all different types of places, all over the country, North
America. And see if I had what it takes and see what they wanted me to
talk about, and what they remembered. They have long memories. So I had
to talk about everything. If there was an elephant in the room, it had
to be talked about. I gave it my best shot and Showtime came along, and
they were kind enough to put me on New Yearís Eve, which is a big thing,
I guess, and here I go.
J: Is it going live on New Yearís Eve, or is taped?
Arnold: Itís taped but it is New Yearís Eve and then it airs 10
times in the first week and a half of the New Year, including New Yearís
Day night. They treat it very nicely, or so Iím told. I donít know that
much about the business, that part of it. But they certainly schedule it
a good part. They must think itís O.K. (laughs)
J: What are some of the topics on your mind in this special? Is
it all new or do you recall some of your old material?
Arnold: Itís chronological about my Ö 25 years of my life or a
little more that Iíve been in this business. A lot of it is personal
things Ė the funny personal things that have happened, the people Iíve
met. Like what happened when I met Madonna, what happened when I met Ė
when Hugh Grant and I met Madonna; my first marriage, what that was
really like, and before we were married. And my other marriages, and
marriage in general; and the [movies] Iíve made Ė just a lot about a guy
from a small town in Iowa who gets a chance to be in some movies, and
meet some fantastic people. And how you act when you meet them.
certainly didnít grow up with a bunch of fantastic people. Nothing
against the people I grew up with, they were great. In my days, I wanted
everybody to like me. If I was in a movie with somebody, I wanted them
to like me. Thatís not always the way it turns out. They donít have time