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How American Values Shaped Fox Funnyman's Life

Fox News Host and comedian Tom Shillue shares childhood stories and how his parents' simple American values shaped his life. Read Transcript


Tom Shillue says his dad was like Darth Vader with a Boston


His mother drove a Volkswagen bus with a Nixon-Agnew sticker.

Tom says his parents raised him in the '70s

with a '50s mentality and that their simple values

have shaped his life.

Take a look.

NARRATOR: Comedian and Fox News host Tom Shillue says good,

old respect has gone the way of the dinosaur.

Raised in Norwood, Massachusetts,

in a large, Irish-Catholic family,

Tom says his parents kept him grounded with love

for God, country, and family.

In his book, "Mean Dad's for a Better America,"

Tom shares funny childhood stories

while addressing serious issues on the forefront

of every parent's mind today.

Tom Shillue is here with us now.

And, Tom, welcome to "The 700 Club."

Thank you.

What a video.

I love it.

You need to take that home to your kids, right?

Oh, they're going to love it.

It's amazing, and those pictures of my parents.

You just mentioned that your dad was a little bit

like Darth Vader--

A little bit?

--and that you wouldn't mind if your kids had a healthy bit

of fear in them toward you.

What do you mean by that?

I mean, I wish I could be a mean dad like my dad was.

I want to drag a little bit of his philosophy

into the present.

But he would.

He would wake us up with his breathing.

[BREATHING] He'd say, get in the car.

You know, and we would run.

We'd run down, and we'd get in that car.

Here you were, a young kid, and you

got into a lot of scuffles, a lot of fights as a kid, maybe

not a lot, but some.

Everywhere, I mean, the interesting thing

was I grew up, you know, in a good home.

My parents were disciplinarians.

But when you think about it, we had a lot of freedom

back then because most of our life

was spent outside of the watchful eye of parents.

INTERVIEWER: Boy, that is the truth, isn't it?

I mean, we had the freedom to do that.

TOM SHILLUE: It was freedom.

And it was freedom to be bad.

Kids were bad, and kids were mean.

So when I got bullied, I would come home and say to my mother,

oh, you know, Chris was pushing me around.

And she said, punch him back.

So I went back, and I punched him back.

I did.

So she taught me how to fight back.

She was tough, too.

I was going to call the book "Mean Dads and Cheap Moms,"

because my mom, she was a real money saver.

Was she?

She did not like to spend money.

Well, you know, families didn't have the option then.

I remember my mom, probably yours, too,

went to the grocery store with a certain amount of cash

in her hand and sometimes put stuff back if she had to.

Well, she had two hands full.

She had the cash, and then she had

an envelope full of coupons.

Yeah, the green book.

Yes, my mother was a member of what

I call the militant couponing community.

Everything in our house had holes in it.

She cut everything out of the newspapers and magazines.

I've tried to follow that.

But they get stuck at the bottom of my purse.

They're never with me when I need them.

You say that God, country, and family really saved your life.

In what way?

I didn't even know it was saving my life.

But growing up, I had this very ordered world.

And when I started writing the book,

I wanted to write about the 1970s,

because when you see it in movies or on TV,

everybody has the long hair and the beads.

And they look like they just got out of the Woodstock concert.

But for me, it looked more like the 1950s.

If you see those old photos of me as a kid,

we had a great, small town.

INTERVIEWER: It's like "Leave it to Beaver."

It was.

And we would watch "Leave it to Beaver."

We'd watch the old reruns.

So our life was a lot more traditional back then.

And I think young people today don't realize that.

So I started writing about the '70s.

And it ended up being kind of a tribute to my parents.

Every chapter I wrote, I was trying to tell funny stories.

And I think they're funny.

And I think you're going to look back.

INTERVIEWER: They are funny.

And you're going to laugh at the way that I was raised.

But in the end, the message, it always came down to gratitude

about how grateful I was about the way I was raised.

And I was trying to think.

How can I give my own kids a little bit

of that, because it's such a different world today?

But how can we take the past and learn from it?

You know, "Mean Dads for a Better America"

is the name of the book.

But you describe your parents as strong disciplinarian

until you were about 12.

And then-- and I love this--

they kind of gave you a freedom to go figure it out.

They did.

I mean, I used to horse around.

And I confess in the book, I would skip church

with my friends.


You know, I dyed my hair.

You're trying to be a rebel.

And my parents let me, because I think

they understood that they gave me a good upbringing.

And then they gave me that freedom.

It's interesting.

I don't know if they intended to do that,

or if they just were sick and tired of me.

They got over it.

I had friends who their parents were in their face.

You know, you had the disciplinarian parents.

And then you had the parents, who they didn't

raise their kids right at all.

But then I had my parents who weren't in my face

all the time.

And they kind of let me figure it out.

And, look.

I mean, I feel like I turned out OK.

How's that?

How'd I do?

How'd I do?

We're going to take a group vote when this is done.

Are you trying to raise your kids the same way?

I am.

I want to be a mean dad.

But I can't be Darth Vader, but I want a little bit of that.

Oh, there's my kids.

I mean, look, just fantastic.

All right, I let them have ice cream.

INTERVIEWER: But you do let them just kind of work it out,

don't you?

I try to be my dad on the playground.

With these modern parents, I'm raising my kids in New York,

you know?

And so I think I'm doing a good job.

I went down to the playground.

And my daughter started going, bang, bang.

And then there was another boy, bang, bang.

And they back and forth-- bang, bang, bang, bang.

And then the New York dad next to me runs over to his son.

And he says, no guns.

And my daughter went like this.

And she said, it's not real.

It's not real.

And I looked at the guy.

I said, you know what?

That's common sense, right there.

Well, some of it is what we're facing even today in the news.

You know, I mean, I think people are so

terrified by what's going on.

The world has changed a lot--

It is.

--since you grew up, since I grew up.

I like to turn off the TV.

I don't like to say that when I'm on a TV show.

But it's like, turn off the media.

And turn off the devices, because sometimes we're

bombarded with messages.

And so I like to have that family time with the media off.

And we tell stories.

A lot of these stories are stories

I tell my kids before bedtime.

They say, Dad, tell me about that time your mom said,

punch him back.

You know, I think one of the things that's

so fun about your book is in a world that's

gone a little bit mad today, we have an opportunity

to go back and remember what it was like when we all

cared about each other, despite our differences,

and when we took time to invest in our kids

and in each other as family.

And I think you're going to really love the book.

It's called "Mean Dads for a Better World."

It will make you smile as you read it and kind of long

for a little bit of what we had years ago.

You can get it in stores nationwide.

Tom Shillue, great, thank you so much.

Thank you so much.

Wonderful to have you with us.


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