Pauly Shore has long since popped “The Weasel.” And Shore is not dead, either — that was merely a ploy to attract viewers to his 2003 mockumentary, Pauly Shore is Dead. No. At 44, Shore has taken his comedy career in a completely different direction. As in, inside the Beltway.
That’s right. Shore is revealing his political side, business suit and all, in a new comedy special, digital download and tour, Pauly-tics. An hourlong version of Pauly-Tics premieres Friday on Showtime.
When The Comic’s Comic caught with Shore, he was relaxing between stand-up gigs in Cincinnati, but looking forward to participating in the presidential election process up close and personal. How close? “I’m flying to Boca (Raton, Fla.), go to the presidential debates,” he told me Saturday. “I don’t have a ticket. I’m just going to go and see if I can get in. It’ll be really interesting. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Turns out he made it inside the building. Fishbowl DC reported that he had a credential from Politico.com that read “Paul Shore.” And Tampa Bay’s CBS affiliate, WTSP, caught up with him for a quick chat. Roll the clip!
“Hey, buddy!” is right.
Pauly Shore says he feels he is lucky to be touring today. “I think I’m one of the lucky ones,” he said. The “Pauly-tics” tour, he added, “has been a pretty cool experience for me. It’s been hard. It’s been a grind. But the payoff has been, I don’t know, it’s been — people have such a preconceived notion of Pauly Shore. It’s cool to bring out a different side of Pauly.”
The Internet, social media and YouTube bring out a less-enthused Pauly, who rose to fame in the late 1980s and early 1990s via MTV and movies such as Encino Man, Son in Law, and Bio-Dome.
“This whole Internet thing is crazy,” he said. “I think it’s retarded as all hell.” What makes him say that? “Everybody thinks they’re a star, every one. There’s this Jenna Marbles bitch. ‘I got 3 million followers! Wee! weewee!’ Fuck it. If they want to think they’re stars. Fuck it.” That doesn’t prevent Shore from existing in social media, himself. He’s @PaulyShore on Twitter (where uploaded several photos from the spin room of Monday’s presidential debate) and has an Official Pauly Shore Facebook page.
“I take all these social media meetings, and I think it’s retarded,” Shore said. “They want to increase your following….’FOLLOW me on Twitter, follow me on Facebook, follow me on Instagram. It’s so much fun!’ It’s interesting because it seems like, it’s kind of like the time in the 1940s, when you went from radio to TV, and people are staring at the TV like a fucking ape. ‘What is this thing?’ Remember just a couple of years ago we couldn’t get videos sent to each other clearly…and now, it’s just you know…I think at the end of the day, if you don’t try to go for followers, you get followers. You know? I think the angle is just put good shit out there and if it’s good, people will find it.”
And yet, every comedian and wannabe comedian keeps pumping out videos and jokes online.
“It’s just gross. Hopefully at some point there will be a format and everyone does it and it’s good,” Shore said.
“Back in the 1980s, it was develop really good material, get a really good six minutes, do Johnny Carson, get a TV show and get into syndication. There really was a formula. Now it’s really trying to hit the nerve of you know, of the audience. You don’t know how to strike that nerve. Louis CK and Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber are lucky that they hit the timing, all their stars lined up….if that had happened when Totally Pauly was on, I’d have 6 million followers. That’s just how it is. Most of them, people who have a lot of followers, they’re on TV or cable, but there are a few who squeak through.”
That’s what happened with the Kardashians, I offer, begrudgingly.
“The E! channel plays them on a loop,” Shore said of the Kardashian sisters. “But it’s not their fault. Same goes with Jersey Shore. The audience dictates if these shows get picked up or not. If they watch it, it gets picked up.”
Shore is definitely serious when you ask him for his opinions, so Pauly-tics isn’t that much of a personal departure for him — even if it represents a sea-change fans who grew up with his comedy. “I’ve never been a political comedian, but I’ve been a political person. Just behind closed doors,” he said. “I’m not into politics because I want to be George Clooney or Angelina Jolie and give half a million dollars to someone who’s not doing well. I’m into politics because I’m entertained by politics. That’s what I watch when I’m home at night. I get burned out, and then I turn it to Showtime or HBO, something like that. But first thing when I get home, I turn it on FOX, CNN and MSNBC and channel surf. You can ping-pong around. Bashing on the left, then bashing on the right. Rachel Maddow is a nice lesbian. And Huckabee is hysterical…when he plays guitar with the suit on, it’s a riot. And Bill O’Reilly is a slut. I’m sure he’s banging all the chicks on his show. There’s no way he’s not doing that.”
So why now? Why 2012? “Well, it was a combined idea between me and Showtime. Where it was like, I knew in a year, there was going to be an election. I was into it. I wanted to do it. So I started working with some writers….doing pre-production…it was such a nightmare. I did all the preproduction and all the writing of the material, it was the early part of the year. I shot the special in early July, then we edited all summer, finished in September.”
In an early scene, Larry King shows up at Pauly’s house high atop the Hollywood Hills as his girlfriend, a Playboy Playmate, is cavorting around the joint in lingerie. “What the hell am I doing here?” are the first words out of King’s mouth. Good question. Short answer? Pauly asks him for advice before going to Washington. Once inside the Beltway, Shore plays pool with former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain, buys a suit with Michael Steele, and sits down with Democratic Congressman Barney Frank and Ralph Nader. Here’s the trailer, to boil that all down for you. It’s NSFW, btw.
How receptive were the politicians to meeting with you on camera? “Well, Michael Steele grew up with my shit,” Shore said. “I dont’ think Barney Frank knew who I was. Herman Cain, I’m sure didn’t know who I was, but his handlers probably said Son in Law was funny. But I really liked all these guys. I enjoyed spending time with them. I want to do more. I really like being with politicians. You can tell if you watch it.”
Anyone you couldn’t get but wanted to? “Of course. I went after Chris Matthews, Anderson Cooper. But all of those guys — what’s the word? They have contracts with all of their companies. They can’t go off and do other projects. Plus, after you get so many, you can’t keep filming them,” he said, adding: “I was going to do Ted Nugent. That would have been awesome.”
When Shore begins the stand-up comedy portions of Pauly-tics, he’s introduced as the president of the United States and sports a business suit. The last time he wore a suit, aside from a wedding or a funeral? Shore tells me he’ll dress the part for a movie junket. “It’s pretty funny to see me in a suit, right? I’m like Weasel Santorum, bro! I got the suit in Georgetown. It was pretty sweet,” he said. As evidenced in the special.
His act also is peppered with political pot-shots; at Arnold Schwarzenegger, at Sonny Bono, at Herman Cain. Shore belittles politicians for their campaign promises and slogans, and offers up his own instead: “Vote for me, Pauly Shore: I ain’t promising you shit!”
But what does he really think about entertainers entering politics? After all, not only were Ahnold and Sonny in office, but longtime SNL writer/star Al Franken is a current U.S. Senator. “What do they say? Washington is the ugly version of Hollywood?” Shore said. “I think it’s cool, man. At the end of the day, politicians and entertainers either connect with the audience or they don’t. Jesse Ventura, people like him. He may be crazy…but I saw him on Piers Morgan (CNN). He really killed it. Smart, and cool. I think if you’re an entertainer or a politician, if you come across in a way that people relate to you, you can win.”
That’s not for Shore, though. He has been doing-it-himself in Hollywood for the past decade on personal films and comedy projects. “Vince Vaughn told me a while ago, after Pauly Shore is Dead, that once you’ve done one (DIY), you can do as many as you want,” he said. “It’s fucking hard, but you know there’s an end. This one was so fucking hard on so many levels. But I’ve been through the process before, so I knew I could do it.”
And Shore has jumped on the 2012 bandwagon of selling his special direct to fans online via $5 digital download.
“So, basically I’m doing the Louis CK thing,” he said. “Download the special for 5 dollars. You can click to pre-order right now.” But wait. There’s more! No, seriously, Shore has more to offer, by way of a lottery. “Once we reach 100,000 downloads, I’m going to give someone $100,000.” He said he’d pick a name out of a hat in January 2013 to announce the winner. “And $5 isn’t a lot of money. We used to go into CD stores and pay 12 bucks or 14 sucks. The problem is, people wnat shit for free now. People think they’re entitled everything for free. It is what it is.”
That certainly sounds like something to run on.
One thing is for certain. Shore has grown a lot since the 1970s, when as a pre-teen, he peed on the stand-up comedians who picketed outside The Comedy Store — owned by his mother, Mitzi Shore — so they could earn fair wages. He even owns up to it in one of two video retrospectives that plays onscreen behind him during Pauly-tics. What would he say to his younger self, knowing what he knows now? “Keep peeing on ’em, man,” he said. “I don’t know. As a kid, no matter whether your mom is right or wrong, bad or good, you support your parents no matter what. I didn’t know what was going on with them (the comedians) at the time.”
Pauly created a mockumentary series in 2005 for TBS, Minding the Store, that revolved around him taking over the family’s comedy club on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. Pauly Shore isn’t running the show there, now. And neither is Mitzi. “My mom’s not been well for a long time,” he said. “She has been sick for a long time. She’s in a home, and someone’s taking care of her. My brother, Peter, is in charge of it. I try to help when I can, throw my two cents in.”
In the meantime, though, Pauly Shore’s campaign continues to tour North America.
Pauly-tics premiers Friday, Oct. 26, 2012, on Showtime. It’s available for download at PaulyShore.com for $5, starting Nov. 6, 2012.