Like most current and former Saturday Night Live cast members, Rob Schneider started out as a stand-up comic. Unlike many of that show’s alumni, since then he hasn’t spent a lot of time telling jokes in front of live audiences. It was pals Chris Rock and Adam Sandler who gave him the nudge.
“Adam’s been telling me to do it for 10 years,” Schneider says. “And I worked with Chris over the summer, and we would be writing jokes and laughing all day. They said, ‘You gotta do it. You gotta go to the places you don’t wanna go.’ So I started doing it. I said, ‘I’m really going to try and get that hour.’ ”
The other inspiration for getting back on stage came from the late George Carlin.
“I saw his last show and he was fantastic, I just admired it,” he says. “He just kept hitting; he was relentless about it. He was brilliant even at the end. I never had that killer hour, because by the time I got a half-hour I had gotten on TV and I had gotten into movies.”
Schneider says stand-up act today is about his life as well as the things going on in our society, particularly those related to the economy.
“I’ve had fantastic responses so far,” he says. “The best art comes from cultures in decline. Look at Euripides.”
He adds that the economic woes the nation finds itself in have been a boom to the comedy industry.
“It’s no coincidence that comedy is doing really good at the box office and they’re filling the comedy clubs," he says. "And it’s also great to be performing in front of a live audience again.”
Schneider has always been interested in socio-economic issues, something that might be belied by his roles in comedies such as Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, Hot Chick and The Animal. Indeed, in 2000 he came to Cincinnati to speak at a rally outside of Procter & Gamble’s headquarters in support of commercial actors who were striking over a plan that would have stopped their residuals payments.
“That’s how the majority in the Screen Actor’s Guild make money is residuals,” he says. “The No. 1 advertiser was Procter & Gamble. (After the rally) I got a letter from (one of the P&G executives) that supported us, and we helped end that strike.”
Schneider is also happy to talk about foreign policy, NAFTA and health care.
“I don’t get into those things in detail on stage, because it’s comedy show,” he says. “But I do touch on everything.”
ROB SCHNEIDER performs Friday-Sunday at Funny Bone on the Levee. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.