Long gone are the days of superstardom for the young, curly-haired kid who took MTV by storm in the early ‘90s, but Pauly Shore isn’t stuck on the past. Having turned 50 this year, he’s still grinding in the club circuit, and feels as creatively locked-in as ever.
Equipped with what he feels is the funniest stand-up material he’s ever honed, Shore brings that grind to Laugh Boston this week (May 10 to 12) for a string of five shows. Now, while five shows to five different crowds may seem daunting, the challenge to keep his material fresh and engaging brings about a philosophical streak in the Encino Man star, who has basked in the silver spotlight of the stand-up stage for just over three decades.
“Every audience is different for me, and I don’t look at another show like it’s just another show,” Shore tells Vanyaland. “I’ve come to think of it like a surfer on a wave, where each wave is different, and every audience is different. The audience tells you where you’re gonna go.”
Shore has been coming to Boston since he started doing stand-up as an opener for Sam Kinison all those years ago, and has always felt welcomed by the fans that have come out to see his shows in the city. The former MTV VJ is in some ways a treasure trove of tales from the industry, but one story in particular may just give the locals some good vibrations. During one of his numerous visits to Boston while opening for Kinison, Shore came in contact with a young rapper from Dorchester, who may or may not have gone on to become one of the biggest movie stars on the planet.
“Here’s something crazy,” says Shore. “Back in the day, I was sitting backstage with Sam when we were in town for a show, and he tells me he has to go see this kid in the studio, who had asked him to come and visit while he was recording. Do you know who that kid was?” he asks with a pause. “It was Mark Wahlberg.”
In many ways, you could say that Shore is a gatekeeper to the golden era of stand-up comedy of the ‘70s to early-‘90s, having grown up around The Comedy Store in West Hollywood, the club his father Sammy founded, and his late mother, Mitzy, later owned and operated.
It’s hard to deny his level of expertise in the industry when he grew up breathing in the smoke clouds puffed by Richard Pryor and George Carlin. Admittedly spoiled by having witnessed the industry’s heaviest hitters to ever grace the stage, Shore feels that the comedy scene still has great acts to offer, but he does struggle to find many comics who he feels are truly funny.
“For this generation, it’s tough, because not everyone in the younger age groups know Sam Kinison, Richard Pryor, Robin Williams, or Rodney Dangerfield,” says Shore. “I mean, you have [Dave] Chappelle, and in my mind, he’s the funniest comic out there right now. He’s sort of like this generation’s Carlin. The Comedy Store is doing really well right now, with the comics who come through, but the energy is so different now from what it was like in the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s. Just think about how you would feel if you’re on stage and Eddie Murphy is there, in his hey day. It was just a mind-boggling time.”
Say what you will about Son-In-Law or Bio-Dome, but there’s no denying that Pauly Shore has always been creatively autonomous, and he’s feeling that now more than ever.
In addition to currently putting together an autobiographical documentary on his life, he’s doing material that he thinks is funny, and he’s consistently adapting to the world of digital content, through mediums such as Funny or Die, his own podcast, The Pauly Shore Podcast Show, and the streaming site Crackle, with which he is producing a six-part follow-up series to his 2014 documentary Pauly Shore Stands Alone.
There’s no doubt he’s riding the wave — he just wants to be able to sustain his shredding.
“I like to do what I do. If there’s something that comes my way, or something that I create, that I think is interesting and fun, I want to do it,” muses Shore. “Sometimes you have to create something, and then sometimes you have to wait for a project to come your way, but I’m not 25 anymore, so I’m just trying to get through the day and trying to take care of myself anyway I can.”
PAULY SHORE :: Thursday, May 10 to Saturday, May 12 at Laugh Boston, 425 Summer St. in Boston, MA :: 8 p.m. and 10 :15 p.m., $25 to $29 :: Laugh Boston event page ::