Tom Arnold says it would be nice to be like George Clooney and just work in movies.
“My career is different. You have to do a lot of things,” said comedian, actor, producer, author Tom Arnold.
Arnold recently returned to his standup comedy roots and will be performing Friday, April 24, at the Hollywood Comedy Club at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town (W.Va.) Races. The show starts at 9 p.m., tickets are $30 to $40 and you have to be 21 or older to attend an event at the casino.
The comedian is no slacker as an actor either. He stars with Sean Bean (“Game of Thrones”), Kate Walsh and Eva Longoria in the indie film “Any Day,” in theaters May 1; is in the Yahoo eight-episode comedy series “Sin City Saints,” and will be traveling to Russia at the end of May to film scenes for an action movie which he describes as “a suspenseful thriller about Russia and the U.S. I get to be a reasonably funny guy,” he said in a phone interview from Beverly Hills.
He’s also written two pilots for TV.
“If you worry about work, you have to get up and do something about it,” Arnold said. “You can get that phone call that will change your life. It does happen. But you have to get up every morning and do something.”
He writes every day. “Even if it’s just writing thank-you notes,” he said.
Whether it’s standup or acting, Arnold keeps an outline of his “script” in his pocket. “I rarely pull it out,” he said, “but it’s there. My biggest fear is what if I space out or forget what’s next.
“With standup you gotta have 75 minutes of material and keep the audience, and it helps to have an act. My biggest problem now is keeping it to 75 minutes,” he said.
He pokes fun at his midwest upbringing, his marital follies and absurd Hollywood stories. Religion and politics he avoids. “It’s very personal,” he said of his comedy. “The things you heard about (like his ex Roseanne Barr “singing” the national anthem), except I was there. You can have fun with it, laugh at yourself,” he said.
10 things you may not know about Tom Arnold:
1. He recently lost 100 pounds. When his son Jax was born two years ago, Arnold was 54 and decided to get lean and fit so he could be active with and for his son.
2. He’s a fan of chilly weather — “just not 24/7 cold.”
3. When Jax was born, he was actually hoping for twins. “They could be siblings and pals.” He’s glad he didn’t have a child when he was younger and battling addictions. “That guy I was then probably would not have been able to handle it.”
4. He is one of seven kids. His mother left the family when he was young, leaving his father to raise them alone.
5. He wanted to work with actor Sean Bean in the upcoming film “Any Day.” “He’s an intense guy. I thought it would be fun to work with someone like him,” Arnold said. “On the days his character liked (my character), he liked me. On the days his character didn’t like me, he didn’t like me,” Arnold said.
6. Being funny in grade school kept him out of fights. “The bigger, older boys beat the crap out of you, you know, being from a family with no mother. Kids are mean,” he said. “I made them laugh and they didn’t beat me up. I was so crazy out of high school” he thought he could leave his hometown of Ottumwa, Iowa, and be on David Letterman’s show in a couple of months.
7. When he left his job at the meat-packing plant in Ottumwa, his grandmother told him that he just lost the best job he would ever have. “True,” he said, adding his father and grandparents all worked at the plant. He worked there for three years saving money for college. He confessed he was actually fired from the job after he was caught, by police, streaking through the local nursing home with a couple of buddies. The residents were in bed, but the nurses didn’t like it either, “and some of them were our friends!” he said.
8. He wanted to attend college so he could become a foreman at the meat-packing plant. “You needed a college degree for that,” he said. “My friends, whose parents could afford it, went away to college. I missed that, so I had to figure out how to do that.” He attended the community college and for 25 years has supported two full scholarships for students there.
He attended the University of Iowa, “it has a great writing program,” he said. “My fall-back was stockbroker, but the first time I was on stage I realized that wasn’t going to do it. At the least, I’m going to give (comedy and acting) a try.”
His first jobs were farm work, like baling hay, “because I could make a lot of money at $1.20 an hour,” he said. “I learned from my dad if you want something you worked for it. College, drums, a car … anything outside that house, you had to earn it. Dinner was at 5:30 p.m. and if you were not there you didn’t eat.” Arnold has four brothers and two sisters.
9. His secret to weight loss? “No gluten and no sugar, and exercise. I need boundaries. I learned that from being an alcoholic that that helps you. No alcohol, no gluten, no sugar. And cardio exercise. I dread doing it but when I’m done it gives me some kind of peace of mind.”
10. He’s a big sports fan. “I go to a lot of basketball, hockey and football games. And I like watching TV, even though I know it sounds bad,” Arnold said. Watching sports or TV for a while is relaxing. “It’s not about me and it’s being a fan of something.”
You can read more of the Tom Arnold interview in the April 23 issue of 72 Hours.