From making copies on "Saturday Night Live" to prostitution in "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo," comedian Rob Schneider has always thrown himself into every crazy situation possible to make us laugh. Now the Schneidmeister is focusing on his stand-up career, bringing his show to the Paramount in Huntington Saturday night.
Calling from the Orlando set of his upcoming TV show, "Real Rob," Schneider shares with Newsday what drew him back to the stage.
You returned to stand-up after a long break. What brought you back?
Doing stand-up again was a challenge that got me out of bed in the morning and sweating a little bit. Because 50 movies in, what challenges you anymore? Going onstage scared me, and, as an artist, you have to do what scares you sometimes.
How did you get into the groove?
I realized that I had to hit the small clubs five nights a week and really earn it. As I dug deeper, I found myself getting into good areas with my material. There's a fine line as to what is interesting to me and what is interesting to the crowd. You always have to be there to entertain. If you are only entertaining yourself, then you are no longer an entertainer.
What is your material like now?
I'm doing some political material because we live in such interesting times, which is why I think stand-up is such a vital art form again. I don't think it was in the '90s, to be honest. With the financial decline in America and the disintegration of the middle class, people are looking for something. Great art always comes from cultures in decline.
I heard you were working with legendary comedian Dick Gregory. What will you be doing together?
We recorded an album of just the two of us on stage at different comedy clubs. We will also be doing a tour together as well. People need to know that he is still out there. He's hilarious and has a great take on the universe. He was before Richard Pryor, George Carlin, and he's still here.
How would you describe your chemistry?
Comedians are like jazz musicians. You have a flow and you don't go against it, you go with it. We talk about race issues and political stuff. I'm envious of comedians that can get away with more than I can. To be on stage with him is like cheating for me.
What was some of the best comic advice you've ever received?
Jay Leno once told me, "You've got to have five minutes that kills every time. If you don't have that, you don't have anything." I spent a year perfecting five minutes and the next year I got on "Letterman."
What is your new TV show, "Real Rob," about?
It's a single-camera, close-to-the-bone version of my life. I think I'm the first actor to pay for his own sitcom, but I'm going to find a way to get it out there. We'll bring it to cable or Netflix.
You made the jump on "SNL" from writer to performer. How did you pull that off?
They told me if I wrote something that I could perform better than anybody else, they'd let me do it. That was their mistake, because I found something very quickly -- the copy machine guy. That made me famous overnight. Sometimes you never know what's going to click and that hit hard. It was the beginning of everything.
Will you do more films with Adam Sandler?
I think we got one more in us if we can pull it off. We've been talking about doing a Western.
You've always gone for the laugh full-bore. Is it something you pride yourself on?
Sure. The greatest compliment I've ever gotten was from "SNL" writer Jim Downey, who said, "Rob Schneider never wasted time trying to look cool." That's something I'll take with me to my grave.
You seem to have a great connection with Adam Sandler. The critics have been rough on you guys. How do you deal with that?
All I remember is some guy in Seattle saying, "The eye wanders anywhere on the screen where Rob Schneider isn't." Because there was an overall blatant rejection, we did what pleased us and didn't worry about what others said. That's the other side of rejection.
In "Grown Ups" you can see the chemistry between all the "SNL" alums. Was it like watching your friendship up on screen?
I think the friendship is better than the movie. There's probably 110 years of performing experience on that screen and I think it rubbed off. There's at least going to be somebody being funny every time.
You turned 50 on your last birthday. Did that have any impact on you?
This one and 30 hit me pretty hard. It made me realize that I only want to do what I love and that's it. I don't know how much more I will do. Every picture could be my last, so I'm going to treat it like that.
WHEN/WHERE 9 p.m., Saturday, March 15, The Paramount in Huntington
INFO $35-$70, 631-673-7300, paramountny.com