Tom Arnold’s life can sound awfully glamorous. One minute he’s talking about hanging out with George and Amal Clooney, the next he’s talking about a movie he recently filmed in Russia.
But the 57-year-old comedian’s life can also sound a lot like anybody’s else.
“I think my wife’s trying to get out of the house to go to gym class with one of the kids, and somebody dropped something down the sewer drain outside,” said Arnold, a husband and father of a 3-year-old and a 10-month-old, during a recent call from L.A. to talk about his run of shows at Charlotte’s The Comedy Zone this weekend. “They wanted me to lift up the manhole cover so they could find their ball. I said, ‘It weighs about 10,000 pounds. ... How important is that plastic ball of yours?’ Anyway, so just business as usual here.”
And business is good for Arnold, both at home and as a stand-up comic and actor.
The Everyman best known for comic-relief work in ’90s blockbusters like “True Lies” and “Nine Months” continues to work as hard as anyone, with no less than five films coming down the pipeline. Plus, he’s still traveling all over the continent to get on stages and crack jokes for live audiences. But we’ll let him tell you about that, and more – including the time he almost came to blows with a North Carolina-based hater on Twitter.
Q. How often are you out on the road these days?
At least twice a week. I was out last weekend – headlined the Edmonton Comedy Festival – then I’ll be coming to see you guys, and the week after I’m going to Connecticut. Let’s put it this way: I have to do a lot of things. I recently saw George Clooney and he introduced me to his wife. He’s like, “Tom and I started together the same year, in 1988 (both had small roles in the early years of TV sitcom “Roseanne,” starring Arnold’s first wife, Roseanne Barr), and look at us now – we’re still doing it!” I thought, well, technically we’re still doing it, but you’re doing it a little different. If I could just be a big movie star, I would do that, but I do standup, I act, I write, I do personal appearances. I have to do a lot of things, because I’m a 57-year-old father of two little kids and I have a wife; so I’ll be working for forever.
Q. You mentioned Edmonton, so I’ve gotta ask: What are they saying about us up there in Canada?
They’re mocking us. Heavily. Heavily. They’re amused. ... I did say to them, every time there’s an election year, either group will say, “If our guy doesn’t win, we’re moving to Canada.” And I said, “You should say, ‘No, no – we don’t want you.’ ” And in my business, it’s Canadians that take our jobs. I’m looking at a picture of me and Mike Myers, and me and Jim Carrey. Jim Cameron is from Canada. Lorne Michaels is from Canada. If it wasn’t for Canada, there would be no comedy business. Forget the wall in Mexico. I’ve never lost a job to a Mexican, but I’ve 100 percent sure lost a job to a Canadian. So let’s build the wall up there.
Q. Speaking of which, are you enjoying election season?
I mean, I can’t wait till the election is over – I really can’t – so we can go back to all of us uniting and trying to make America better, together. Which is a joke, by the way. But seriously, there’s something wrong with our whole process that it takes so long. I think in Europe they have like a six-week process. ... We have politicians that try to scare people, who say that we’re living in a post-apocalyptic world and base their whole campaign on that. But I’ve had the luxury (of perspective). I filmed a movie in Russia last summer. I’ve been to Afghanistan. I’ve traveled around the world, I’ve been to all these different places. We are so damn lucky to live in America. People that think America is terrible have not traveled outside of America. We are not perfect, but we are by far the best place on this planet, in my opinion.
Q. Hard to tell that sometimes by looking at Twitter, though, right? I’ve noticed you’re not afraid to mix it up with the haters and the trolls.
Most of them are so stupid that it’s funny. They’ll say to me, “When the race war starts, remember: You’re not white; you’re Jewish.” I say, “Well, I’m actually relieved you said that, because the white people created the Winchester rifle, but we Jews created the atomic bomb. So I’d rather be on our side when it starts.” Their other big slam on me is Roseanne – somebody I was married to 25 years ago. They all do it, like that’s gonna hurt my feelings. “Oh, you had sex with Roseanne!” “Yeah. Yes, I did have sex with my wife. OK? It’s not that weird of a thing, actually, if you’re married to somebody, to have sex with them. You’ll find out one day, if you ever meet a woman.” It’s sad. They’re sad people. And, I mean, if you let somebody hurt your feelings on Twitter, then you should not be on Twitter. ... Although, listen, I grew up on a farm. I worked in a meat-packing plant for three years. Every once in awhile, I go back to That Guy. And there was this one guy from North Carolina, he was threatening me and threatening me, because I’m Jewish. He kept telling me what he was gonna do to me. So I finally said, “OK, give me your address. I’m gonna follow you right now, DM me your address. I’m coming to North Carolina for a show, I will come to your house, and we’re gonna just handle this man to man.” But then he disappeared – which is probably great, because my wife would just be so mad if she knew I was doing that.
Q. And what do you like about Twitter?
It’s a great way, when you have kids, to keep track of sports. Because when you’re in their bedroom, and right before you read “Peppa Pig,” you can pull it out of your pocket and see, like in my case, how the Cubs are doing. That’s how I found out the Cubs came back the other night. They were losing when we left the restaurant, then at home I had to sneak and look because my wife was watching on the camera. I found out they came back and scored three runs and beat the Giants; I was so happy. ... Twitter’ll keep ya posted. If you have little kids, I highly recommend it.
When: 7:30 and 9:45 p.m. Friday, 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday.
Where: The Comedy Zone, 900 NC Music Factory Blvd.
Details: 980-321-4702; www.cltcomedyzone.com.