Pauly Shore Refuses to Go the “Corey Haim Route,” Has Thought About Running for Office

Before his standup special at 9:30 Club this Saturday, the king of ’90s slacker comedies talks about how he’s reshaped his career.

By: Tanya Pai

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 as Bio-Dome, Son-in-Law, and 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 B-roll for 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 was President.

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 opinions 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 people 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 Sports 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 die anyway.

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 you’re 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 name?

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 missing 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 Bio-Dome 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 remember 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 Jersey Shore ?

Not really.

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?

I like 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 Pauly-tics ?

I’m probably going to do something for the CMT [Country Music Television] Channel. It seems like I work a lot with CMT and 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?

Pauly Shore—Pauly-tics is at 9:30 Club this Saturday, June 30, at 5:30 and 9 PM. Tickets ($20) are available online.