If you were a teenager (or older) in America in the 1990s,
Pauly Shore probably needs little introduction. He (and his alter-ego, “the Weasel”) is best known for starring in such classic slacker comedies
Encino Man, and for hosting MTV shows such as
Totally Pauly. In the aughts, Shore released several films, including his debut work as writer/director/producer, 2003’s
Pauly Shore Is Dead, and the 2010 mockumentary
Adopted. This Saturday he appears at the 9:30 Club to film a politically themed standup special that will air on Showtime this fall,
Pauly Shore—Pauly-tics. A couple of weeks before he
came to Washington to film
Pauly-tics, we caught up with Shore to talk about the inspiration for the special, his career then and now, and whether people ever
confuse him for a certain
Jersey Shore cast member.
So where are you at the moment?
I’m in Peoria, Illinois. There’s a Baptist convention at my hotel.
What are you doing in Peoria?
I’m doing shows and preparing for my special. Then I
come to DC Sunday night to do a tech scout at the venue, and then we’re
gonna shoot a whole bunch of stuff for three days around town,
host wraparounds and, you know, a whole bunch of stuff interspliced.
When’s the last time you were in Washington?
I was in Baltimore, which I know is close—that was like a year ago. As far as DC . . . the last time was when President Bush
Did you meet him? What was he like?
I met him. I don’t know, he was like how he is on TV. He stuttered a lot. It was just a quick moment.
Tell me a bit more about your comedy special.
I’d say it’s Pauly Shore goes to Washington. It’s like
spring break meets Bill Maher. I just want it to be fun; I don’t want
it to be a [specific] point of view, I just want it to be
silly. I want to put a pin in the edginess and just try to have
a good time and make these politicians come across as human
beings. It’s going to be standup comedy at the 9:30 Club with
a couple other comedians and some funny political songs, with
interstitials cut through the show of me running around Washington.
It’s not like Michael Moore where I’m going after people or
anything like that.
Did you come up with the title?
Me and Showtime did.
There are, obviously, a lot of politically minded people in Washington. Are you hoping for a specific kind of crowd?
Hopefully a crowd that laughs at my stuff. I’m not
really thinking about what people think about it. People in life form
about movies, or this thing or that thing; I hope people are
entertained. That’s all I really care about.
Have you ever thought about running for office?
Yeah. Well, maybe mayor of a small town. I think I
could pull that off. I think I’d probably win, based on the fact that
who get into politics from the entertainment business always
seem to win—Clint Eastwood, Sonny Bono. . . . People feel connected
to people they dig. Can you picture that? Like Weasel
Santorum—I get off the bus with my sweater vest, kiss some babies, cut
some ribbons at the fair.
Do you usually follow the news and the campaigns?
I watch a lot of stuff on TV when I’m at home. There’s
three things I watch most of the time, and that’s Fox and CNN and
Center. I’m just entertained by the news anchors and the
politicians—it’s definitely show business. It’s “How do I look, am
I sitting right, oh, my hair’s not right.” The news anchors are
bigger stars than the stars.
If you became President, what’s the first law you’d change?
I would cut all my personal expenses. I don’t need to
stay at the White House, I’d stay at the Courtyard Marriott; I’d fly
Southwest. My Secret Service agents are not going to have sex
with Colombian prostitutes because I’m going to be having sex
with Colombian prostitutes. That’s one of my jokes. But I would
stop sending our troops overseas to fight other people’s wars
and start sending our prisoners. There are more than 2 million
prisoners crowding our jails, so we could send them over there,
give ’em a little pardon. If they die, who cares? They’re gonna
Would you say you identify with a particular political party?
Um . . . not really. I describe myself as someone
who’s not a victim. I don’t like to blame where I’m at in my life based
on what’s going on in the world. Lots of people say, “Oh, the
economy sucks,” instead of “This is awesome, I got fired, let’s
figure this out.” In my career when stuff slowed down for me
more than ten years ago when, I wasn’t the It person anymore,
I kinda had two choices: I could go the Corey Haim route, be a
victim of the business, or I could create my own stuff and
decide, “I’m going to still do my own thing.” For the past ten
years that’s what I’ve been doing. It’s a hard road, producing
and directing, but it’s all your stuff. And I’m getting better
at directing and producing and putting things together.
Which one of your projects are you most proud of?
Pauly Shore Is Dead—that was probably the heaviest and the hardest. People think, “Oh, where’s Pauly Shore? He’s not around anymore.” But in
fact I’m working even more than before.
Your Showtime special is going to be live. What’s the prep work like for that, as opposed to for a movie? Do you find one
harder than the other?
It depends on what you’re doing. If you’re producing
and directing the movie or the special it’s a whole other thing; if
just in front of the camera, it’s not as much. For me, I’m very
interested in the look of the show, so it takes a long time
to get the details right. It’s occupied all my time for the
past five, six months, preparing and organizing and all those
other things just to get crews in DC and get the comics and
backgrounds and material, book the talent. It’s a lot of editing,
plus the music, the graphics—I’m in charge of all that stuff.
When people see you on the street, is there a certain role they call you out for the most? Or do people mostly use your real
Everyone from tollbooth operators to housekeepers to people on the street—they all know who I am. They giggle most of the
time, which is good.
Can you tell me about your mockumentary,
Adopted, which shows you traveling to Africa to adopt a child? You didn’t actually go through
the adoption process, right?
I’m glad you said it was a mockumentary, not a
documentary. The movie starts off with me: I’m 44, I’m single, I’m
unconditional love, you know? That’s where it starts in the
truth. It starts off with me and my niece and nephew, and I’m
saying, “God, I need a kid, where do all the celebrities get
kids? Shit, I’m gonna go to Africa.” It’s like
Borat with heart—it’s not played mean; it’s not played real. All the kids were actors.
Do you ever rewatch your old movies?
I’ll see clips here and there. I’m really fond of
them—there was a point in my career where I was like, “Uh, get them away
from me,” but I rewatch them and I remember why people like ’em
or didn’t like ’em, and why I still have an audience on the
road. I was happy with how they turned out.
I was a big fan of
back in the day. What was your favorite part of making that movie? Can you tell me something funny that happened on the set?
You notice in that movie I was pretty much over the
top and crazy, which is what I told myself I wanted to be. I just
telling myself, “I want to be so stupid and crazy.” We were in
character most of the time. It was great; I really liked working
on that most of the time.
You were also big on MTV in the 1990s. Do you still watch anything on the channel, like
Did you know that your Wikipedia page says at the top, under your name, “Not to
be confused with Pauly D?” Do you get that often?
No. They confuse us because our names are the same. But then people will say, “Yo, you were the original Pauly.”
Who do you think is the funniest person in TV or movies today, besides yourself?
Will Ferrell a lot. I think
Charlie Sheen was really funny on
Two and a Half Men; his character was really funny. The hottest comedian is Kevin Hart; he’s selling the most tickets. I like comedians that
come from a real place.
What’s next after
I’m probably going to do something for the CMT
[Country Music Television] Channel. It seems like I work a lot with CMT
Showtime. Other than that, I want to take a break. Go to Europe
or something. Anywhere in Europe—Sweden, Norway. I think Europe’s
cool. Have you been there? Isn’t it crazy? Isn’t it crazy how
amazing it is over there? I’m scared to go back to Africa after
my movie. Hopefully they liked it.
Is there anything else you want people to know about you or about the show?
Tell people to check out
Pauly Shore—Pauly-tics in the fall. It should be cool; I think Showtime will have a good show on their hands. Who wouldn’t want me to see me and
Michael Steele go bow-tie shopping?
is at 9:30 Club this Saturday, June 30, at 5:30 and 9 PM. Tickets ($20) are available online.