No conversation that begins like this can be healthy: “Sorry, I had to put you on hold a sec, buddy. I had to take a call from a detective.” Such is the life and strife of Tom Arnold – socio-political critic, comedian and lightning rod who will appear at Helium Comedy Club on October 26 for two shows. He won’t be solely riffing on serious matters such as The Donald as he does on his Viceland series, “The Hunt for the Trump Tapes with Tom Arnold.”
Tom Arnold talks Mark Burnett fight and if Trump will resign
Nor, will he read from the transcripts of his recent debacles with his former agent Ari Emanuel (“he’s furious with Miss Carolina from the Miss Universe Pageant for coming on my show”), and the President’s buddy, producer Mark Burnett – the subject of that detective’s phone call. “That’s the case where I was strangled by him,” says Arnold, calmly – one of the few moments of quiet we share. “We’re hoping for the best. The detectives are doing a damn hard job, and well. It’s just hard getting witnesses as you may imagine; me versus the guy who produced Survivor and The Apprentice.”
Tom Arnold is no stranger to being a lightning rod. Along with revealing he had been a victim of sexual abuse in his childhood, the actor-host was also once married to Roseanne Barr (“that was 24 and a half years ago… a lifetime”), a woman whose own controversies are just part of what Arnold sees as a dark year.
“Look, we have a president who I have known personally for over 30 years. What are the odds of that? That there are overlaps with the people in his life and the people in my life, says a lot, Someone like that should not be president,” he laughs.
“Any overlap with me is a disqualifier right there. Then again, there’s something in the air. My ex-wife’s show came back this year, and you know about that (Trump supporter Roseanne made such unsavory, racist remarks, she was let go from her own hit ABC series lot). Dark stars have had to align for this type of year to occur.”
When dark stars align, Tom Arnold is there to pick up the weird hemisphere’s flotsam, and run with it. He mentions the women who came on “The Hunt for the Trump Tapes with Tom Arnold” such as the aforementioned Miss Carolina who had her run-ins with a supposedly handsy president as “the brave ones.” Picking up those dark stars often mean trouble – not the usual Hollywood trouble that someone in the media can be subject to, but government trouble, Trump Trouble. It is here that I mention to Arnold that I got that quote from comedian Kathy Griffin during our Metro interview.
Does Tom Arnold think he’s on a watch list? “I don’t want to give them that credence. Their whole thing is scaring people. That’s not unique to Trump. Lawsuits, death threats, ruining me financially. You protect your family and plow through it. Am I aware of stuff of issues with the government and me? Of course. But there are also people working on both sides of that fence. So I’m lucky. There are a lot of people who work for the FBI who grew up in Iowa where I was raised, they get sick of being called names. Same with the hard-working people who work in immigration. Some of these people have my back. So I’ll keep doing things and saying things until Trump resigns.” And he will resign, in Arnold’s opinion, as there’s too much incompetence and the White House is melting down. “We’ll just keep the pressure on and hopefully it will end before too many more people get hurt. It is not like the set of ‘The Apprentice’ where the incompetence gets edited out.”
Arnold insists that he will not only talk about all-things-Trump while on stage in Philly. Instead, he will speak about his life as a family man, and the consequences of being so. “I am not a political comedian. When we get into the club, it will be time to laugh. But I am an authentic person, and I – who has never known a president for 30 years – must be honest,” he said, “I used to say that when he and I were at the Playboy Mansion, and he was doing his thing, that HE was the creep. Not true. We were both creeps. He was just the creepiest.”
“Look I see what is going on, I know the people who are doing it, and the best thing I can do for my kids is something about it,” says Arnold of the two children he has with Philly-born Ashley Groussman. “My family’s future is important to me. When they get older, and they read about what went down, I want them to know that their dad did something for them and that it wasn’t easy. Their dad got choked, was very unpopular and put himself at personal risk.”