Comedian Rob Schneider is probably best known for his characters on Saturday Night Live like the Copy Machine Guy, or from movies like Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, but he got his start in stand-up comedy, and he has recently returned to his roots. He’ll be performing at The Comedy Zone this weekend in Charlotte. He spoke to WFAE's Kevin Kniestedt.
Kevin: You got your start in stand-up comedy and have now kind of returned to your roots again. What made you decide to do stand-up again?
Schneider: Chris Rock made a movie with me a few years ago with Adam Sandler called Grown Ups, and he said you’ve got to get back and do stand-up, you’d be great at it. And I said I don’t know what I would talk about, and he said just talk about what you’re talking about with me. But I also saw George Carlin perform before he passed away, and he was still just brilliant. Topical, but also just had a really distinct point of view about life. And that was the challenge for me. I never really felt like I got to where I wanted to be with stand-up, because by the time I started to get really good at it, I got on Saturday Night Live and became famous. Which was a good thing, by the way.
Kevin: You were hired at Saturday Night Live in 1988. How were you hired?
Schneider: They saw me doing stand-up. I guess they have their spies. And I always believed that if you’re funny, they’re going to find you, not you find them. And they did. I think Lorne Michaels saw me on an HBO Young Comedians special in the late 80’s. And then I had an audition, and he was in the room at the famous Melrose Improv. And they were supposed to meet with me the next day, and I said I had a gig in San Diego. And I said if he wants to meet with me he will fly me to New York. And I was driving to San Diego wondering if I just made the biggest mistake of my life for $75. And I broke out in a cold sweat. But of all the people that he met with, I was the only one he flew out there. So I got the gig and that was a real life-changer.
Kevin: Do you still watch the show? Has the show changed over the last 25 years?
Schneider: It’s still reliant on the same things. You need to have original characters for the show to be a hit. In other words, something for people to really get excited about and kind of repeat those catch phrases. And then you have to have stuff happening in the world. And I remember when I was on Saturday Night Live I would do a sketch, like the “Copy Machine Guy” sketch. You know, “Kevin, the Kevinator, Kevorama.” And the next morning, I’d be going to the corner store to buy milk, when I still used to drink milk, and I would hear people doing that sketch, and they didn’t even know I was in the grocery store. I was like “Wow, this is a powerful thing!”
Kevin: You’ve played all these memorable characters in television and movies, and you’ve had some extremely memorable lines. Do you get people to this day that ask you to do the Copy Machine Guy routines all these years later, or that call you Deuce Bigalow, and how do you feel about that?
Schneider: I’m always flattered by it. I never take it the wrong way. The thing is if you make somebody laugh hard about something, they remember it. When it was first happening, I couldn’t go anywhere. Adam Sandler, when we were doing the “you can do it” thing, the weekend before Waterboy came out, he told me I’m not going to be able to go anywhere this weekend without hearing “you can do it!” There was ten years of that.
Kevin: You’re working on a new 8-episode television series called Real Ro which you financed and produced yourself. What made you want to go the independent route with this new series?
Schneider: Well first of all, I didn’t want to go independent. I would have rather been with a big network making tons of money and presents and toys, and them treating me really good and taking me out to dinners and spoiling me. That’s what I want. I didn’t do this because I turned down all these amazing offers I was getting from networks. I averaged 11 million viewers on CBS and they still canceled the show. And I thought 11 million might not be good enough for you, but it is good enough for me. So we just had to suck it up and figure out how to do it. And the difference is if we make some mistakes or you have to recast or the location doesn’t work out, or you need more equipment, I have to pay for it. So that’s a different thing. It’s a little scarier in that sense because there is no back up. But at least we can do what we want. So at least at the end of the day I think you have to just practice and really remember you are trying to make yourself and your friends laugh. That will bring other people to it.
Rob Schneider will be performing Friday and Saturday at The Comedy Zone in Charlotte.