How Tom met his match with a US sporting hero

Tom Wrigglesworth
Tom Wrigglesworth
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A Sheffield Wednesday scarf hanging up in the dressing room of one of the most famous sportsmen in the world was a gift from city-born comedian Tom Wrigglesworth.

You’ve probably never heard of Aaron Rodgers, star quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, unless you follow American football, but it turns out that Tom looks uncannily like him.

This was discovered accidentally after Tom started appearing on what he calls a ‘drunk TV’ show, a late-night fun science series where Tom, who has an engineering background, pops up to commentate on the science behind daft stunts seen on YouTube.

He said: “You have these experts come on and explain why the car backfired or why Coca Cola mixed with bicarb of soda explodes. I cram in as much Newton’s laws and physics theory as I can. It’s all reasonably dumbed down.

“That was shown by one of those late-night cable channels in the US as well. People started Tweeting, saying that Aaron Rodgers is on this science show.

“My wife and I watched this go mad for a few hours. We thought what can I get out of this? Nobody knows this guy in England and nobody knows me in America.”

Tom decided to make a spoof film called Where Do You Think You’re From, based on the BBC series Who Do You Think You Are? He did it with a friend and some fancy dress shop costumes.

He said: “Around February I made a little YouTube film pretending that Aaron Rodgers comes from Saltaire, where I was appearing at the time. I played about five different characters myself. No-one’s heard of him or seen him but we all look like him.

“Aaron Rodgers loved it and retweeted it and that sort of exploded a bit.”

Tom’s success came at the same time as he was writing a new series of his Radio Four comedy series Hang Ups, which is based on daft phone conversations he has with his parents, and appearing as a stand-up around the country.

Then the producers of films for the NFL American football league got in touch.

“They said, ‘we want to get you to the US to meet him’. The first time I could go was August. I carried on with a tour of New Zealand and Australia.

“That’s when it all got a bit too much but I was going on holiday to Sri Lanka anyway.”

Tom said he had a mini breakdown with the stress but managed to get his radio series done and set off for Green Bay.

He said: “If Sheffield has half a million people and 50,000 people go and watch football every week, that’s 10 per cent of the population.

“Green Bay’s population is 100,000. They make cheese, dairy products, milk and paper and they’ve got the Green Bay Packers and that’s it.

“The stadium holds 70,000 and it’s been sold out for the last 20 years and the next. You can’t go unless you know somebody or you pay a lot or someone dies and you’re the next on the list to get their tickets.

“If people can’t get into the game, they just park in people’s driveways and stuff and have barbecues.”

So as you can imagine, an Aaron Rodgers lookalike wandering the street followed by a film crew causes quite a stir.

“He’s their most important player at the moment. Americans are very friendly. Everybody would stare at me. I’d say my cousin plays for the football team.

“If I put on a cap or a hoodie people would think I was him.

“When I met him it was mad. We were dressed in the same clothes. He’s about two inches shorter than me and I’m just a bean pole next to him. I just looked like him stretched a bit.”

While he was in Green Bay, Tom did some stand-up gigs and he got the keys to the city from the mayor.

He’s also the proud owner of a Green Bay Packers shirt with his name on the back and gave Aaron the Owls scarf in return. He was chuffed to see it hanging up in the team dressing room.

Tom said: My short film about looking like Aaron Rodgers has just been shown in the US. It’s like the best home video you could ever imagine.”

Tom is happy to be back on home turf, appearing at the Last Laugh comedy festival in Sheffield, after his adventures.

“Of course I’m delighted to be back at the Crucible. It’s great to be on stage as I’ve watched stuff there over the years. I love Sheffield and can’t wait to come back.”

Tom’s show is next Tuesday (October 14) at the Crucible Studio. Box office: www.shefieldtheatres.co.uk or call 0114 249 6000. Last Laugh festival: http://lastlaughcomedy.co.uk/sheffield-comedy-festival/