Comedian Tom Green turned a camper van into a mobile recording studio during the pandemic, and it transformed his career

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Tom Green bought a camper van in 2020. Courtesy of Tom Green
  • Comedian Tom Green bought a camper van when he learned all his tour dates were cancelled in 2020.
  • He turned his camper van into a mobile recording and editing studio, so he could work on the road.
  • Van life expanded his career beyond comedy, allowing him to write music and learn video editing.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Many may recognise Tom Green from “Road Trip” and “Charlie’s Angels,” but these days the comedian prefers a desolate desert to the spotlight of a red carpet.

In 2020, Green decided to buy a camper van and join the van life movement. He now splits his time between his home in Los Angeles and travelling the country in his camper van, spending nights alone with his dog, Charlie, in desert landscapes.

Throughout his journey, Green has continued working, turning his camper van into a mobile recording and editing studio.

When the pandemic started, Green knew he needed to try something new

For the past 10 years, Green has been travelling around the world every weekend to perform stand-up comedy. He said he was finally hitting a satisfying stride in his career, but all that came to a screeching halt when the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe.

“It was traumatic in some ways because I love [stand-up] comedy,” Green told Insider. “I spent the last decade getting to this place … to have that rug pulled out from under you at a time when you’re just hitting a really strong place was a bit traumatic.”

Yet Green looked on the bright side, realising he was exhausted from travelling the world for a decade. He was ready to make a drastic lifestyle change, especially because he knew stand-up comedy would be on hiatus for a while.

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The exterior of the van. Courtesy of Tom Green

“A year ago, I knew this was going to last as long as it has,” Green said. “I was hoping it wouldn’t, but I knew pretty much from the beginning that this was not going to be over in two months. Because of that, I started planning for a long one- to two-year change.”

He didn’t immediately turn to van life as a way to spend his newfound free time. Instead, Green first decided to take a trip to see his family in Canada and didn’t want to fly. He planned on renting a van that he could drive and sleep in, but when he contacted a camper van company, he was surprised to learn how livable a vehicle could be for himself and his dog.

Green quickly fell in love with the idea of living part-time in a camper van, while taking his work on the road with him, so he designed a van that could do just that.

His camper van was built with his career in mind

Green worked with Boho, a camper van conversion company in Arizona, to design a vehicle that would fit his needs.

Upon entering the converted Ram ProMaster, there is a kitchen that has a small sink, a countertop, and plenty of cabinet space. Directly to the left, there is a small seating area with two benches that face each other. A table can be pulled out in front of the benches from under the bed, which is located in the back of the van on a raised platform.

Since Green planned on using the cedar-covered vehicle as his mobile workspace for his podcast and music production, the conversion company added special features. They made space for the wires so that they could be tucked away but still accessible, they ran cables through the walls, and they installed studio speakers above the bed. The table was strategically placed so Green could have an area for his microphones and recording equipment in a central location.

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Green’s setup. Courtesy of Tom Green

It’s a work in progress, Green said. When he first hit the road, he had to set up the entire recording studio every time he arrived at a destination, a process that took close to two hours. Now, he has almost perfected a system where the recording studio can remain mostly permanent full-time.

“Now, I can drive, stop, flick a couple of switches, and start recording,” Green said. “In a way, we took an existing van and the typical design and adapted it for what I’m doing.”

Van life helped transform Green’s career beyond comedy

Most vanlifers choose to take their work on the road with them, working remote jobs in social media, programming, and content writing. When Green decided to start recording his podcast on the road, it started taking on a new, creative form.

Before 2020, he typically chatted with comedic celebrities on his podcast. When he started the journey in his camper van, he began instead interviewing people living in nature and talking about his experiences in the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico. He quickly decided to move away from comedy and renamed the podcast “Van Life with Tom Green” produced by Audio Up Media.

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Green is exploring music and editing. Courtesy of Tom Green

“When you’re being creative, writing, and making music, you need to find inspiration, and sometimes being at home, you can fall into creative ruts,” Green said. “[In the van], there’s so much to look at, observe, talk about, report on, and write about. It’s inspiring.”

Beyond his podcast, Green said he was able to write a song because he was inspired by his adventures on the road, and he recorded a music video by himself for that same song while out in the desert. He’s also had the chance to focus on his love of photography, while teaching himself new editing systems, audio mixing, and cinematography. Green recognised these are things he would have never been able to do by himself before the pandemic and before he decided to join van life.

“I feel a great sense of accomplishment, having been able to figure all this stuff out,” Green said. “I’m now much more satisfied with what I’m doing artistically than I was before.”

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The lifestyle is also helping Green explore photography. Courtesy of Tom Green

Green joined a workforce of vanlifers who prove careers can flourish even while travelling on the road.

“[This lifestyle] has been exciting and eye-opening for me in many ways,” he said.