Much like Andrew Dice Clay, Pauly Shore is a part of my youth.
I remember his MTV VJ ride, his Totally Pauly show. I won’t say I was a huge fan, but I found him amusing. I was always a little more enamored of his mother, Mitzi. I had read all about the Comedy Store and what she had accomplished there; I heard the good and the bad, but not being part of the inner circle means you don’t hear the ugly. I thought it was cool that a woman was doing so much to help the careers of mostly men in a mostly male field.
In the right moments, with the right friends, I could laugh at Pauly Shore movies. While Encino Man never did much for me, I dug Bio-Dome in a guilty pleasure kind of way. In the Army Now brought me a smirk and a chuckle or two. I think my niece was more of a fan, but she was a few years younger than me, and he seemed to play better for her peers than mine.
I wasn’t sure what to expect at the show. The radio had been horribly, awkwardly unfunny. I knew Pauly had done a little stand up early on, but I couldn’t recall any of it. The last few things I’d seen were his mockumentary, Pauly Shore is Dead, and his recent Las Vegas production, which was more about other performers. My hopes weren’t high that I was going to experience the kind of stand up that I consider good. In the past few months, I’ve seen Keith Alberstadt, Pat Dixon, Alonzo Bodden, Rich Vos. East and West Coast, under and overexposed, more and less known. All funny. All good at actual stand up.
At the club, I sat off to the side along the wall. A couple was ushered to the table next to mine. The woman, we’ll call her Jennifer, came over and introduced herself to me. She told me she’s a very outgoing person who makes friends wherever she goes. I asked her if she was happy to be there and she said yes, that Pauly had been a part of her childhood and she was really excited to get to see him live. Similar to my excitement over Dice, I said. Throughout the show, I would look over at Jennifer for a temperature check. Our expressions began in very different positions, but by the end of the show, it seems we had arrived at the same place on the emotions face chart.
We were both disappointed.
I’m not going to go on at great length. Pauly had some material, which he told us up front was mediocre. I appreciated the warning. His self-deprecation seemed a little more real now: some of you people just came to see if I was still alive; playing the smaller markets, like those listed on Gallagher.com (a double whammy!); just turned 44 and 44 x 2 = dead. Much of what he did seemed like thoughts he had while hanging with his entourage, who must have told him they were all great, but forgot to encourage him to develop them into actual jokes. You know, for an actual comedy audience who paid money to see him in an actual comedy club. The next time someone has an idea to let the Weasel do his “Obama got Osama” rap in a rubber mask, tell them to wait a few hours after the drugs wear off and see if they still find it funny. I didn’t. Jennifer didn’t. Most of the audience didn’t.
I guess what was most disappointing, beyond the actual set content, was the cavalier attitude. It felt, true or not, like he didn’t really work on this show, like he was willing to ride on the wave of curiosity and nostalgia that would bring people in the door. It felt like one big “Fuck You, Buuudy.”
I asked Jennifer, after the show, what she thought. She was polite, she chose her words carefully. She said she had expected more and didn’t think it was worth the ticket price, but she was happy she got to see him. I felt for her. She was surfing on that same wave.
Honestly, I don’t have a problem with this being who Pauly is right now. I can’t imagine what it was like for him growing up in Comedy Ground Zero, having access to too much too soon, being good at one thing that may not translate to the other things he wants to be good at. I think of him more as a comedic personality than a stand up. I think there are some comedic actors who can do both – Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Billy Crystal, Orlando Jones (See his stand up if you haven’t. you will be impressed), to name just a few – but they aren’t interchangeable. Comedy has genres. Funny comes in a variety of flavors. Embrace your Chunky Monkey, but don’t insist on passing yourself off as Raspberry Fudge Whirl.
In all fairness, I was told the Saturday shows were much better.
Pauly did get one thing incredibly right, and I personally want to thank him for it.
Dude, the vibrator ABSOLUTELY is your pinch hitter. Spread the word.