From Algonquin College to comedy pioneer, Tom Green returns home to Ottawa

Ottawa mayor interviews hometown comedian at the International Film Festival Screen Summit
Photo: Grinje Randa Bringi
Mayor Mark Sutcliffe and actor Tom Green in conversation at the Screen Summit.

While pursuing a television broadcasting diploma at Algonquin College, Tom Green was sculpting his legacy. Every day, after class, he didn’t go home or hang out with friends. Instead, he marched to Roger’s Cable, to film The Tom Green Show.

“I couldn’t afford a video camera, they were thousands of dollars, and we didn’t have cameras on our phones in those days,” said Green. “So, the only way was to volunteer at Rogers Cable in order to get my hands on the cameras.”

The International Film Festival of Ottawa Screen Summit hosted a conversation with Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe and Green, the Canadian filmmaker, comedian and artist, on March 22 at the Arts Court Theatre.

Green’s journey of being a student while producing his show on cable television emphasizes a fundamental truth about success: it’s not just about where you’re going, but the risk and dedication you take on the way there.

Green discussed his vibrant career and pursuit of creative expression, starting with his love for rap music and being one of the first artists out of Ottawa to pursue the genre. Inspired by the New York and Los Angeles rap scene, Green learned to rap and make beats and then created the rap group Organized Rhymes who were later nominated for a Juno award for best rap recording.

“When you’re the only person to do something, you’re automatically seen as the best, so for the first time I was the best at something,” said Green.

Sutcliffe, who referred to Green as the godfather of podcasting, praised Green for his trend-setting career, which has inspired many like Joe Rogan to start their podcast.

“Everyone admires you as a comedian, an artist and a filmmaker, but I also think of you as an entrepreneur,” said Sutcliffe. “You never waited for someone to offer you an opportunity. You created all the opportunities you have had in your career. There’s a real lesson in that for artists.”

As an artist who has worked and lived between the United States and Canada, Green stressed the importance of maintaining a Canadian identity. With Ottawa’s growing film scene, Green encourages filmmakers to create authentic stories that maintain the identity of Canada.

“A lot of people don’t know what Canada or Ottawa looks like,” said Green.

He urges writers to embrace the uniqueness of Ontario and Ottawa as they are, highlighting that what may seem ordinary to locals can appear exotic to international audiences. After 21 years of living in Los Angeles, Green relocated to Ottawa and re-established his Canadian production company, focusing on creating and producing content and television shows locally.

Adrian Alexander, a first-year film and media student at Algonquin College and aspiring media content creator, was thrilled to meet Green following the screen summit. Green took the time to review Alexander’s social media and offer feedback.

“Tom Green said he liked the pictures,” said Alexander. “Just hearing him say he liked it made everything worth it.”

Green’s upcoming stand-up comedy special is set to be filmed for Amazon Prime at the National Arts Centre on May 18.

His comedy tour currently doesn’t include a stop at Algonquin Commons Theatre, but Green said he’s open to visiting the college if invited.

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