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As production is wrapping on the third season of his Netflix series “Real Rob,” actor and comedian Rob Schneider is set to take the Saenger Theatre stage for an evening of stand-up comedy.
Event: Rob Schneider
Date: Saturday, Sept. 29, 8 p.m.
Venue: Saenger Theatre, 6 S. Joachim St., www.mobilesaenger.com
Tickets: $25-$45 available through Ticketmaster
As a member of one of the most memorable casts in the “Saturday Night Live” legacy, Rob Schneider established a solid career that thrives to this day. Over the years, Schneider has maintained his comedic reputation through the “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo” film series as well as such hilarious cinematic romps as “The Waterboy,” “Benchwarmers” and “Grown Ups.”
Now, Schneider is celebrating the success of his Netflix series “Real Rob,” which provides a comical translation of his daily life. With Schneider as the show’s producer, writer, director, financer and lead actor, “Real Rob” is his most ambitious project yet, now preparing for its third season.
Schneider is set to take the Saenger stage for an evening of stand-up comedy. His conversation with SLagniappe provides a deeper look into the life and career of this comedian.
Stephen Centanni: I think the SNL cast you were part of was unique in a lot of ways.
Rob Schneider: Thank you!
Centanni: One thing I think is unique is that you, Adam Sandler, David Spade and Norm Macdonald all seem to maintain a close friendship and still work together. That can’t be said for many former SNL casts. It seems like everybody hates each other except for you guys. What created this lifelong bond between all of you?
Schneider: Well, truthfully, Adam Sandler being such an amazing human being and such a great performer, he still wants to hang out with his buddies and have us be a part of his success. It’s a beautiful thing, and he really is a lovely person. So, you know, he goes out of his way to make sure that we get together, and it’s been fun. He’s had one of the greatest runs, because he’s a brilliant comedian and really terrific filmmaker, and he’s been nice enough to bring us along.
Centanni: You’ve definitely had critics and hecklers over the years, but one thing I’ve noticed and what everybody seems to ignore is that you’ve managed to stay busy with television and film projects to this day. Why do you think people are so critical about a career that has been busy and continues to move forward?
Schneider: I reminded Norm Macdonald just last week of what he told me. He told me a few years back, “When you enter the arena, those in the stands will hate you.” You know, you’re a part of it, and you have to accept that’s part of it.
I have fans who love what I do and go see everything I do, and some fans will like some stuff and some like other stuff. There’s some people who don’t. It’s like the old Woody Allen joke, “Those that can’t teach teach gym.” I remember reading about Andy Warhol. Andy Warhol said a great thing, “Make art! When people are deciding if it’s art or not, make more art.”
I think getting in some of the high-profile arguments that I’ve gotten into has provided more fuel for the fire than maybe I should have. I’m also like, “Why do I have to sit there and take it. Screw it! Next time, I’m gonna say something.” Some people just sit there and take it. I’m not one of those guys.
Centanni: One project that seems to have not resonated with some critics is your Netflix show, “Real Rob.”
Schneider: Well, that’s not true! That’s not true at all! I’ve gotten terrific feedback from that show. I don’t give a shit what those people think, honestly. Have you seen the shows?
Centanni: Oh yeah, I love it.
Schneider: To me, it’s such a lazy thing for a critic to say, “Oh, he’s just copying Louis [C.K.].” Well, I’m sorry. There used to be a show called “Bob Newhart.” There was a show called “Seinfeld.” There was a show called “Dick Van Dyke.” There was a show called “The Jackie Gleason Show.” There was the “Jerry Lewis & Dean Martin Show.” These were comedians. There’s always been a comedian’s TV show.
It’s abject hackery. It’s the lowest form of journalistic non-thinking. John Cleese, who’s a real genius, told me, “Critics, don’t even ignore them.” I’m just going to do what I do. People love it. I’ve been doing it 35 years and still making a living at this thing. I still love what I do. “Real Rob” is the funniest thing that I’ve ever done. I’m not worried about that. For the critics who didn’t like “Deuce Bigalow,” that movie made more money than “Mission: Impossible” that year on DVD and in the theater. Everybody saw that movie.
If you put yourself out there and say, “I’m going to make a comedy,” it’s an art form with an aggression to it like, “I’m going to make you laugh.” It’s putting yourself out there.
The difference between drama and comedy is that drama is left open to interpretation. Comedy gets the core of who people really are. It’s also considered the mark of intelligence. If you don’t laugh at something, you almost have to attack it. How could it be funny if you didn’t laugh at it?
People should be more honest in other areas of their intelligence. It’s like, “Are you a good cook?” “Nah, I’m not really a good cook. I cook a couple of things.” If you ask if they have a good sense of humor, that gets closer to the core. “Yes! Of course, I have a wonderful sense of humor!” Not everybody has a good sense of humor, or their sense of humor isn’t heightened or refined or not coming from a place of joy. I’m over it, in other words.
Centanni: I think it speaks for itself. You’ve gone through two seasons, and you’re working on a third. That says a lot of a Netflix show, because they’ve had so many that have come and gone. It means somebody is watching that you just got past the first season. How does it feel to see the show going into the third season?
Schneider: It’s very rewarding. It’s my favorite thing that I’ve ever done. I really enjoy it. A regular sitcom is 20 minutes and 30 seconds. We do a whole half-hour. It’s better. It’s a teleplay more than a sitcom. When I had a show on CBS, I asked them, “So, what’s the theme song going to be?” They said, “We don’t have time for a theme song.” I was like, “God, it’s not fun anymore.” So, I’m so glad I’m on Netflix.
Centanni: One thing I like about the show is how you have to deal with getting your balls busted on a daily basis just for being Rob Schneider.
Schneider: Yeah, that’s the fun of making fun of yourself.
Centanni: If there’s one thing you want people to learn about you through the show, what would it be?
Schneider: I don’t want them to learn anything. What I think is fun is seeing someone suffer that’s not you. It’s funny. One thing that I’ve learned from the great British comedies like “Monty Python” and “Fawlty Towers” — to make a great sitcom, it requires the characters to be really horrible, selfish people. Those make the best shows. Take a look at “All in the Family” and “Seinfeld” or Basil Fawlty. These are horrible people. That’s why it’s so funny. They get their comeuppance, or they should. I want people to sit back and enjoy something.
What a bore it would be if I showed what a socially relevant and … kind human being I was. Who would want to watch that? What a bore! I can’t stand those socially relevant shows where it’s like, “Oh, look what a good person I am!” It’s boring. I tell you one thing is that it won’t last. Twenty years from now, nobody will watch that stuff.
Centanni: What’s also impressive is all the roles that you’ve taken on behind the scene of “Real Rob.” What’s the hardest part of doing that show?
Schneider: The budget. Truthfully, it’s making sure that we can afford everything. It’s tight and expensive. The crew is expensive, and the locations are expensive. Actors cost money. It’s the catering. The comedy and writing is the fun part. Filming is fun, but you want to make sure that you can film it all for the money that they give you.
Centanni: What do you have in store for us when you take the stage in Mobile?
Schneider: I kind of give them a rundown of what’s going on in the world, but it’s all for comedy. I’m not there to subvert them to my point of view for anything else but to get a laugh. I’m there to entertain them. It’s their money and their time. I want to make sure that they have a great laugh. I want to surprise them and shock them and push them a little bit and cajole them to a place where they can laugh at this craziness that’s happening. It’s a great time for stand-up. It really is.
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