The comedian talks rednecks, Roseanne, and answers the same 10 questions we always ask everyone…
You currently have 129 acting credits on IMDB. How many of those shows/movies can you name?
Well, I’d like to say four, because there are four good ones. I’ve looked at IMDB before and been confused. Like last week, I looked there because someone said, “You were in the movie Kicking and Screaming with Will Ferrell.” And I said, “No I wasn’t, I would remember if I was in a Will Ferrell movie.” But apparently, I was! It was probably because I used to be on a sports show. Every sports movie would have the guys come down and film with us and insert that into the show - there’s at least ten movies not listed on there that I play Tom Arnold in. Which, you know, I think should be listed, because I did varying degrees of Tom Arnold. That’s acting! I didn’t do the same Tom Arnold in every movie, so I’d like to see those up there on my list.
A lot of people know you from True Lies, in which you starred with Maxim Icon Arnold Schwarzenegger. What was it like working with the Austrian Oak?
You know that’s the name of his penis, right? It was great. It was one of the rare times where I played someone’s best friend and we stayed best friends. It was my first big movie and I thought, well, this could be amazing, because I’ll make big Hollywood friends! So my next movie was Nine Months with Hugh Grant, when he’d just come off Four Weddings and a Funeral, and he hadn’t been arrested yet. I fucking loved him! We spent five months together in San Francisco being best friends on and off the set - we went to games, we hung out, we mocked the other actors behind their backs, we did all the things. After the movie was finished, we’re having a going away dinner and I said, “I have to fly up to Toronto tonight, but I’ll be back next weekend, let’s go to a Dodgers game or something.” He’s like, “Yeah…Tom, our movie’s over.” And I go, “I know our movie’s over, but we’ll just hang and get some coffee,” and he’s like, “Whoa! Uh, did you think we were friends?” And I go, “What?” He says, “No offense, but we’re showbiz friends. You can’t be friends with everyone you make a movie with, Tom. I’ll see you in a year and I’ll give you a hug.” The guy led me on! So I get on the plane, land in Toronto, and get an emergency phone call from my publicist. “Oh my God. Did you hear what happened to Hugh Grant last night? He was arrested with a prostitute!” So just then Hugh Grant beeps on my phone. “Bloody hell, I just got out of jail, I need to talk to Elizabeth,” and I go, “Whoa, buddy, did you think we were friends? We’re in fucking show biz!”
But you stayed real friends with Arnie?
Yeah, I go back and see him all the time. He’s such a good dude, he’s hilarious, funnier than people probably think. He’s very inappropriate and a great guy and a great friend.
You appeared on Roseanne Barr’s Comedy Central Roast last year. I’m trying to think of a way to phrase this question that isn’t, “What was it like to roast your ex-wife?”
Well, on one level, it’s awesome - everyone should have the opportunity! But I was scared shitless because it could go sideways at any time, especially with her. I hadn’t talked to her in over 18 years and there had been a lot of bullshit back and forth. This was her show, she was being honored, so it’s not like we’re in a demilitarized zone, we’re on her side of the border. And there were restraining orders on both sides, because our divorce settlement was so complicated - with financial consequences of bad-mouthing each other - that we had to get lawyers on both coasts to sort through this to make it legal that we even could be in the same room together!
You’re currently hosting My Big Redneck Vacation on CMT, having also done My Big Redneck Wedding and Redneck Rehab. How did you get involved in those shows?
Part of me thinks it’s because I grew up in a farming community in Iowa. They like four wheelers and hunting and, you know, the things that we did there. I worked in a meatpacking plant for three years - I come from a pretty rough existence, so I said, well I’m part redneck, for sure. I can do this.
Do you have a redneck vacation you’d recommend?
I would love to do an eating tour of America. To understand what America is about, you have to go out and eat food in different places - we’ve got a pretty diverse range of food here. That’s not a hilarious trip. The trip I would have taken in the '80s would have been more alcohol and drug-related, you know? Just like every trip I took in the '80s…
What was the last thing you had to apologize for?
I took a beat to think about my wife asking me if I wanted to go with her to the doctor. Now, I thought she was asking me, but it’s really not a question when your nine-months pregnant wife asks you. So I went, “Uhh…” And then she flipped out. I’m a guy that has to think for a second sometimes, but you shouldn’t have to think when your wife asks you to go with her to her last appointment for the baby this week. I seriously groveled, because that’s ridiculous - I had to apologize for a while for that, because it's one of those things that when you fuck up, it becomes, “You have never done one thing during this pregnancy!” And as a man, I have a list of all the things I have done, including getting my fucking nutsack cut open so they can pull my testicle out and get the sperm from there, which is a pretty big deal, I think.
There’s a mental image we didn’t need... What’s your favorite curse word?
It’s one word, but it sounds like two words: fuckinidiot. It works for me.
So it’s like fuggedaboutit?
Yeah, that’s what it is!
What’s the worst hangover you’ve ever had?
Man, from '75 to '89 I had so many. I mean, pretty much every day. What I do know is that I haven’t had a drink since December 10th '89, but - and I recommend this to all your readers - the only thing that cures a hangover is more alcohol and drugs. It doesn’t have to be in that order; you might want to pace it. I woke up Sunday with a horrible food hangover, which is the same kind of hangover, because with a booze hangover, that’s from all the alcohol turning to sugar. A day like the one after my birthday, when I ate the whole cake, those hangovers are very comparable to my drug and alcohol hangovers from the '80s. And you’re fucked, because since I can’t use drugs and alcohol, there’s really no cure and so it’s much worse.
What was your first car?
I had a '68 Chevy Caprice, maroon, mint condition. Until 20 minutes after I bought it, when I ran into a pop machine at a gas station. From that moment on, after it had that initial dent, it became a battering ram. One night we knocked down 35 stop signs! The cop pulled me over and said, “Have you been knocking down stop signs?” I’m like, “No…” He pulls me out of the car, and in the front of the car, stuck to the bumper, was the last stop sign I’d knocked down. That was my first drunk driving.
Do you have a scar that tells a story?
On the index finger of my left hand. My dad had just got a new Skil saw - he left for work and said, “Don’t fuck with my Skil saw. Seriously, don’t.” So the second he got in the car to go to work, I ran down to the garage with my little brother, fired that thing up, took one board, ran it through, and cut the end of my finger off. So now, there’s no way I’m telling him - the bone is sticking out of my finger, but there’s no way I can tell him. So that night at dinner, I had my hand wrapped up in a towel. My dad goes, “Tommy, let me see your hand.” I hold it up and he goes, “Holy shit, were you in my paint?” Because it was all red from the blood! Then I just fucking Hail Mary’d him and started weeping and said, “No, I cut the end of my finger off!” And he goes, “What the fuck is wrong with you? We need to go to the hospital!” I still can’t play a guitar because of it, so it bugs me.
Do you have a party trick?
In the ‘80s I was the expert at going into any party and finding cocaine. Even if it’s a Christmas party for a business, it could be a holiday party for the Latter-Day Saints, and I could go in there and know somebody that knows somebody that has cocaine. Now, I’m an expert at knowing how to leave a party. The minute I get to the party, I figure out how I can get out of there. If somebody makes a move towards the door, I go, “Ok, you’re out? I guess we’re going.” People really appreciate it when I do it, because then they all can leave - they’re like, “Thank you, at least somebody broke the ice!”
You were at Maxim’s Super Bowl party this year – how long did you last?
Well, Aaron Rodgers was at the first party that I went to, and I’m known in the sports world, so we talked a little bit. Then, every single party I went to, he was next to me, all the way to the Super Bowl. I can imagine what he was thinking - this fucking fat dude is following me! So I walk into the bathroom at the Maxim party because I wanted to look in the mirror and to see if I was super sweaty. I walk out and check my Twitter feed, and someone had tweeted, “If you want to know, the answer is no, Tom Arnold does not wash his hands in the bathroom.” And so I go back in the bathroom where there’s eight stalls, and I’m like, “Listen, fuckheads, I know someone tweeted just now. I did not fucking need to wash my hands, because I didn’t fucking piss! But watch me now, I’m washing my fucking hands. I need someone to fucking retweet that I do wash my hands, because it’s fucking disgusting.” And then out of the stalls comes Aaron Rodgers and fucking Peyton Manning! I was like, “Guys, I know you didn’t do it!” So now, I’m becoming really weird to these people.
You never know what’s going to happen at a Maxim party…
Many years ago, I went to a Maxim party and they go, “Here’s the VIP area,” but there’s about a thousand people in the VIP area. So I go, “Oh, it’s crowded,” and they go, “You’ve got to go to the other VIP area.” There’s still like 100 people packed in there this late at night, and I go, “Fuck this.” So a guy from Maxim goes, “Oh! You should go to the real, real VIP area.” I swear to God, he took me up to this crow’s nest and there was a peephole, and there was just Dennis Rodman in there. So it was me and Dennis Rodman and a peephole, looking down on the other VIP areas. That’s what the ultimate VIP area was!
Well, awkwardly enough after that story, the next question is, what’s the biggest thing you’ve ever put in your mouth?
Well, doing a sports show, you spend a lot of time in locker rooms, and I know they say that not all stereotypes are true, but the penis one is. I have seen penises with elbows, I’m not even kidding. But the biggest thing I’ve had in my mouth… well, I worked at McDonalds, and on Thursdays, if you unloaded the truck, you got one meal, whatever you wanted to eat. And every Thursday I would eat eight Big Macs and I’m not even kidding. I would make myself sick because it was free and then I would work my shift. But one time - and this is as big a sin as anything at McDonalds - I used quarter pounder meet in my Big Mac. The manager came in and he was like, “Fuck that, one more bite.” I could only take one more bite, so I shoved the whole thing in my mouth! There was no way I was spitting that out. I was choking, but I did get this thing into my stomach. It was big.
What’s the one thing to remember in a fist fight?
The thing to remember is to get the first punch in, because in most fist fights, it’s a one or two punch deal because you’re in a bar. You always hit them as hard as you can in the nose, which stuns them. It’s just shocking to get punched in the nose for anybody. And that’s what’s wrong with Justin Bieber, he never got punched in the nose. Like, we all got punched in the nose. In school, someone punched us in the nose, we know what that’s like. He missed that, so he’s going and acting like an asshole right now and doing all these things, but what he really wants is for someone to hit him in the fucking nose. Every boy needs to know what it feels like. So, yeah. I feel sorry that nobody did that to him.
I think everyone’s sorry that no one did that to him. Who was the last person to see you naked?
Besides my wife? I mean, I try not to let even my wife see me naked right now. I’m so fat right now, it’s disgusting. I will actually turn around when she comes in the bathroom. But everyone at the fucking nut surgery saw me naked. They felt me naked…
Finish this sentence: If I ruled the world for a day, I would…
I would settle all major disputes with either Olympic-style wrestling or eating contests. That’s a lame answer, but at least that would change the makeup of our leaders, for sure. And I do want them to keep Olympic wrestling.
Maybe they could have the wrestling after an eating contest?
There you go! The reason that they want to take wrestling out of the Olympics is because people aren’t watching and they need to switch it up a little bit. If you had to gorge yourself before you wrestled, that would be more interesting.