Long before Jackass, CKY, The Dudesons, Andy Milonakis and anyone that’s ever posted a humiliating video on YouTube, there was Tom Green.
Back in 1994, the Ontario-born comedian/rapper began hosting The Tom Green Show on the cable-access network Rogers Television 22. With a nonexistent budget and little more than a video camera and an endless capacity for public humiliation, he began creating videos that slowly grabbed the attention of teenagers across Canada.
His most enduring bit was finding new ways to torture his parents, one time even turning the first floor of their house into a petting zoo and later throwing a severed cow’s head onto their bed in the middle of the night. But many of the best segments took place on the streets of Canada, where he interacted with unsuspecting, but extremely polite, local citizens.
Picking the most memorable one is a real challenge, but “The Canterbury Tales” is a top contender. The premise is rather simple: Tom put on a blonde wig, a fancy pink dress and attached a bunch of rotting goat heads to a rope. Then he simply walked the streets of Canada, grunted like a psychopath and horrified everyone he met. “One of the more surreal moments from the show and possibly my life,” he wrote in 2012. “After filming for about five minutes on this hot summer night the smell became unbearable. Ahhh, the smell of rotting goat heads on a summer evening.”
Throw in light classical music and, inexplicably, the name of Chaucer’s 14th century story collection, and you have a video that is bizarre beyond imagination. When he made it, he probably couldn’t have foreseen the day when MTV would give him a show in America and turn him into a very unlikely superstar.