Paul Reiser on his enduring TV career — and making Toms River, NJ laugh
Paul Reiser has been nominated for four Golden Globes and 11 Emmys. He has appeared on such shows as "Stranger Things", "The Kominsky Method", Hulu's "Reboot" and of course "Mad About You," which was recently brought back for a limited run.
But what he really loves is his standup comedy roots which he brings to the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts in Toms River on Oct. 8.
Reiser, who grew up in Fort Lee, appeared on my New Jersey 101.5 show. How does he stay working after all these years?
"If you just don't go away, they have no choice but to use your somewhere. It's funny, it's sometimes it's just a matter of timing all these things. A whole bunch of shows that I did, over a long span happened to all come out at the same time. But it is funny. You know, the show that I did was called 'Reboot', which is on Hulu."
"But you know, my fun part is when I get to go into stand-up, nobody believes me. Why do you do it? Because that's the fun. The shows are not always fun to do. You know that some of them, like Stranger Things, it's like a huge production that takes years to do.
But stand up I get to go out and actually hear people laugh, and it's live. It's not even Zoomed. They're actually right there. And to me, the extra kick gets to go to New Jersey. Trust me when I say the same jokes are like three times for New Jersey and New York. I don't know why. But when I get back in my home to my little sweet spot of where I grew up. It just feels like coming home again. So I'm looking forward to getting out there."
Reiser's a Jersey Guy
"Well, I grew up in the city. And then my family moved to Fort Lee, which is as close to New York as you can get and still be in Jersey, except for Jersey City. But my dad worked in North Bergen and we lived in Fort Lee and I grew up in the city, then I moved back to the city. But you know, there was just a feeling when you're in the tri-state area. It just feels like you know, oh right, we're not in Kansas anymore."
What does Paul Reiser love about New Jersey?
"It's just, there are just no punches pulled. I remember being in a movie theater. And it was empty. And my buddy and I ... we're in a theater, there's like us, and then like maybe one guy. But I don't know what it was like an afternoon or something. And we were just talking, and the guy wanted us to shut up and he just turned around and he just said, Hey! And I went to New Jersey settings right there. There wasn't one word in it."
What was it like working on "The Kominsky Method"
Oh, man, that was a real treat because Alan Arkin was one of the few guys that I grew up idolizing and he said he's such an offbeat but brilliant actor. And I didn't get to do that many scenes with him, which was a little disappointing, but the few that I did, it was sort of like, you know, it's like when I got to work with Mel Brooks on Mad About You. He was sort of like staring into the sun. Like, this is almost too much for me. It's like, you know, one of the highlights of my career was getting a genuine laugh out of Alan Arkin. Keep the Emmy, I'd rather have this."
How was returning to "Mad About You"?
"We did a little 12 Episode revisit which was on Spectrum. But it is now on Amazon. And you can watch on Amazon Prime, you can watch all the original seven seasons. And then we did this revisit and that was really fun."
"We weren't trying to pretend we weren't trying to bring the band back together and pretend 'Hey, look, we're 32.' No, the fun of it was 30 years later, or 20 years later since the show ended. And we're different people. We the actors are different people, but the characters, they're no longer newlyweds. We're beaten-down parents and our 8 or 18-year-old kid who was quite a handful is now moving on to college and leaving the nest and now we're alone again."
"But we're well worn down. And that was a lot of what the comedy was like, you know, at that point in life, and certainly where we are where I am now. You're not, you don't have the same dreams as you did when you were 20. And life is not exactly how you work planned. It didn't work out just like you planned it. So it was a lot of fun to go and do it. And we just wanted to do it once, which we did. And I'm glad we did."
What about Comedy has changed since you started doing it?
"It's funny, the world is so different in so many ways. But stand-up comedy kind of hasn't changed as like maybe some of the subjects change."
"I took a long time off, when Mad About You started I didn't get out there and do stand up. And then I kind of took a lot of years off. So it ended up being 20 years from when I last was out touring."
"And when I got back up and I started just like I did the first time when I was 18. I went down to a comedy club difference was ... now I don't have to audition to come on in. But what struck me was that it was exactly the same."
"You know, the fact that the audience recognize you helped you for about five seconds. And then you got to be funny, and then you have to have something to say. And there's no shortcut. You know, it's one of the few things that hasn't changed. There's no app that makes you funny or faster. You just got to get up every day and do it. And to me that's the fun when I get out on the road, you know, every night, something new, I discover something new if something worked better yesterday, something works better today. And it's a moving target and I love the fun of it. So that's never changed."
To see Paul Reiser on Oct. 8 at the Jay and Linda Grunin Performing Arts Center click here.
Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise only. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.
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