Pauly Shore stands back up
Pauly Shore has been there and back. The son of Comedy Store founder Mitzi Shore and comedian Sammy Shore rose to fame in the ‘90s with his own MTV series, “Totally Pauly,” and big-screen hits such as “Encino Man.” More than two decades later, with less hair and considerably more miles on the odometer, he’s back in the clubs doing stand-up.
Shore isn’t bitter about the rise and fall of his star, rather he uses it for material. First there was the 2003 film “Pauly Shore Is Dead,” a mockumentary about the comedian faking his own death to revive his career. Last year, he released the legitimate documentary “Pauly Shore Stands Alone,” a surprisingly touching look at his life on the road doing stand-up in the Midwest in the dead of winter as he grapples with aging, loneliness and his mother’s battle with Parkinson’s disease.
He also recently guest-starred on a “Hangover”-inspired episode of “Hawaii Five-0,” alongside Kevin Farley and Jaleel White; and launched a new podcast series this year, “The Pauly Shore Podcast Show,” featuring guests ranging from Bob Saget and Judd Apatow to Ziggy Marley and Fred Durst. Shore’s also working to extend his documentary to a docu-series. Between it all, he continues his stand-up career, spending nearly half his time on the road —including a show this Saturday at Flappers in Burbank — because he says it’s something he has to do.
“L.A.’s a little crazy,” he says from a tour stop in Northwood, Iowa. “I like to balance being there and everywhere else. I think in my mind and my body I’ve been programmed. I can’t stand L.A. for more than three weeks in a row or I get crazy — just the traffic, the energy, and the people and that whole kind of vibe. Then obviously I miss it and then I want to come back.”
It’s not just the travel, though, that prompts Shore to hit the road — it’s the stage and the audiences. He was literally born into comedy and can’t shake it. “Comedy, I think for the true comedians that do it, they know that it’s something that you have to do. It’s not something they want to do,” he explains. “So, it’s in my system. Whatever it is I’m going through in my life I have to talk about it on stage. It’s like a therapy thing for me. I feel more comfortable on stage than even speaking on the phone. I just feel at peace.”
Shore started his stand-up career at the age of 17, after being mentored by legendary comics such as Sam Kinison. “I was thinking the other day that Sam Kinison died at 38 and I’m 47,” he says. “I’m like way older than he was. That’s how young he was when he died. It’s crazy. It’s so weird.”
To this day, Shore still remembers those early days under the influence of Kinison. “I was in high school,” he recalls. “I was a short-order cook at the Comedy Store in Westwood and he was performing there. I just kind of took to him. He was a guy I looked up to at the time. When I started off doing stand-up, he happened to be around. His ability on stage to do and craft material was like no other, so it was pretty cool to watch him when I was starting off.”
Through the years, Shore has seen some of his influences pass away. He was in Fresno when he got the news that Kinison was killed in a car accident in 1992. “Sam touched a lot of people, it wasn’t just me, it was the fans and the people around him. It was kind of like when Robin [Williams] died. It was this sadness and this hole and this darkness over my family and me. At the time it was devastating because he was close to us.”
From his lineage, many assume that Shore got his big break from his parents, but in an episode of his new podcast series, he revealed that his mom wouldn’t book him at the Comedy Store until after he’d proven himself elsewhere. Still, he sometimes feels resentment from his fellow comedians. “There’s still weirdness like that,” he says. “That comes from being the owner’s son. That’s how it is. Any time you’re the like son of someone... We’re all different. Just embrace it, ‘Oh, his mom owns the club. That’s cool. Whatever,’ as opposed to being bitter about it. Any time someone is successful or whatever, people come down on you.”
Although Shore found success, he admits there are some things he’d change along the way if he had the chance. “I know a lot of people are like, ‘No, it was perfect the way it was,’ but that’s not true,” he says. “There’s certain things that I did in my career that maybe I shouldn’t have done because I wanted to work. I didn’t really think of the repercussions. I just didn’t think a lot about what’s good for my career. I was like, ‘This sounds fun, let’s do it.’ There’s a lot of that stuff early on.”
Anything in particular? “The movie ‘Jury Duty,’“ he says of the 1995 film he starred in with Tia Carrere, which has a 3.9 rating on IMDB. “I thought it was a really funny movie, but once I got into it, I thought, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t have done that.’”
On the flip side, he’s proud of “Pauly Shore is Dead” as well as the documentary, 1993’s “Son In Law” and 1996’s “Bio-Dome.” “I like them all,” he says. “At the end of the day, I even like ‘Jury Duty,’ but business-wise it didn’t really work.”
During the height of his fame, Shore didn’t really appreciate his success. “I was just too busy and crazy,” he says. “It’s like you’re in a tornado or a big swirl and there’s stuff constantly coming at you — mostly vagina.”
Now, however, Shore has weathered the storm and he’s coming to a club near you to talk about it.
Who: Pauly Shore
Where: Flappers Comedy Club & Restaurant, 102 East Magnolia, Burbank
When: Saturday, May 16; 8 and 10 p.m.
More info: For more information, visit www.flapperscomedy.com or call (818) 845-9721.
CRAIG ROSEN is a regular contributor to Marquee.