TOM ARNOLD’S HUMOR IS HEARTFELT
by Jackie Brett
Tom Arnold’s life is anything but the norm or uneventful and it acts as the basis for his stand-up material, which he’ll be sharing as a special guest headliner making his Las Vegas Laugh Factory debut at the Tropicana Friday-Sunday, Sept. 15-17.
Speaking by phone, Arnold was warm and open about his early life in Iowa to his four marriages starting with his first to Roseanne Barr and much more. He was born in Ottumwa, Iowa, and was the oldest of seven. His mother abandoned the family when he was a child, and he was sexually abused from ages 4-7 by a male babysitter. With all this, he was about 10 years old when he heard his dad laughing and realized he was watching a Bob Hope special on television. To witness his father’s rare moment of levity was when he made his decision to bring more laughter to the world.
Arnold’s youth included working at a meatpacking plant and studying business administration and writing at the University of Iowa. He began doing stand-up comedy when he was 23.
“I started by using other comedians jokes,” confessed Arnold. “Then I met a prop comic who told me I needed to write my own material and to find a hook. I saw a goldfish tank and became the goldfish comic for a couple years.”
Arnold found his stage personality and has fascinated the comedy world for more than 30 years as a writer, producer and actor. Returning recently to his stand-up roots, Arnold’s autobiographical act is never scripted and pokes fun at his roller coaster life. Happily his current fourth marriage has blessed him with two toddlers and the role of father after many years of trying. He wrote his autobiography in 2003 as a long letter to his future children so now he needs to write an updated edition.
Las Vegas isn’t new to Arnold. “My grandmother worked at a Coke Cola bottling plant and saved annually to visit once a year,” recalls Arnold. “Vegas was like Oz to the family.” A few years ago, Arnold lived in Las Vegas when he was working on the short-lived basketball sitcom “Sin City Saints,” which debuted on Yahoo! Screen.
At 58, Arnold says financially he needs to work. Being versatile, he’s been blessed with continuous work and can do stand-up forever like his idols Bob Hope and Don Rickles did into their 90s.
“The business is different than it was 35 years ago,” said Arnold. “Back then if you did Johnny Carson’s show you were set for life. It was one big audience. Now the audience is segmented and you have to do like 10 late night talk shows.” However, with the Internet and YouTube, there are more opportunities.
Arnold’s show will be at 8:30 p.m. each night with Dave Mencarelli hosting and Patrick DeGuire also performing. Tickets are $44.95 to VIP Booth $69.95.