In light of his new documentary on Showtime, I met the star of <i>Encino Man</i> to chat about his life, his career, and his plans to open something called Weasel's Bar and Grill.
All photos by the author
At one point in Pauly Shore's new Showtime documentary, Pauly Shore Stands Alone, the actor, comedian, and one-time MTV host says, "Just because Hollywood stopped giving me movies doesn't mean I stopped being Pauly." But what does that mean for a celebrity better known today for starring in some of the most critically mocked movies of the 90s and catchphrases like "I'm weazin all your grindage" than for his comedic prowess?
Shore, now 46, was once the star of thought-provoking classics like Biodome and Encino Man, but as time went on and people started laughing at him rather than with him, he began making failed mockumentaries like Pauly Shore Is Dead. Now he's down to doing stand-up pretty much wherever he can, as Pauly Shore Stands Alone demonstrates. The documentary, which he directed and produced, follows him through bumblefuck Minnesota and Wisconsin as he performs in strip clubs and movie theaters, openly talks about his mother's battle with Parkinson's (as well as his own prostate issues), and wonders if getting married and having kids will make him happy.
Though it's sprinkled with eye roll–worthy shots of Shore helping elderly women carry their luggage and fans saying he changed their lives (underlined by a saccharine score of acoustic guitar), overall it's a surprisingly earnest portrait of a middle-aged man trying to figure out how to develop an adult life while being defined by his past. "What brings you to this little town?" a fan asks at one point. "Karma, bro," he replies.
I met the hey buuu-ddy actor at a fancy hotel in Manhattan where we hung out for a couple hours and chatted about how he misses acting, what comes next for him, and how he wants to open a restaurant called Weasel's Bar and Grill.
VICE: Why did you choose the Midwest to be the setting of your documentary?
Pauly Shore: It just happened to be the start of the tour. I'm booked all the way, pretty much, through 2015. I'm glad I chose that stretch of the tour because visually, I thought it was interesting.
Plus, while I shot the footage that ended up becoming the Showtime doc, I was like, Fuck, this is dope, there's a story here. What's going to happen to my mom? What's going to happen to my love life? What's going to happen with my pissing problem? And I had such a good time shooting that I bought a new camera called a C300. And I kept shooting. So I have over about 200 hours in the can of new footage, including when I move my mom out of her house and sell it. I filmed the whole thing. And that house is crazy because it has been in my family since I was a baby—40 years. Depending on how Pauly Shore Stands Alone does on Showtime and what the response is, I'd like to make a sequel. Or a documentary series.
Do you still think of yourself as an actor?
I think that's what most people know me as... I think I'm a good actor. What I'm doing now is mostly stand-up. But if my agent called and said, Hey, we want you to act, then I'll shift into that. But then producing, editing, and putting this documentary together makes me a filmmaker, too, in a way.
I got forced into doing Pauly Shore Is Dead because my career slowed down in the late 90s and early 2000s. Chris Rock's going through that right now, it's the same thing, though at a bigger level because he's got a bigger film coming up than I do. I'm gonna be 50 in fucking four years. I've still got good hair, but my point is that I'm a man. I'm not a fucking kid anymore. I have man experiences. I've been through it all. And, ultimately, I love acting. I really do. I miss it, to be quite honest.
When I go on tour and people just talk about the movies, or if I see the movies on cable, I get a little sad. I really like acting. It'll happen again.
You had total creative control in your documentary. Why wouldn't you make another film?
I can't wait for the phone to ring, man. It's a lot of work, dude, to fucking call and... I mean, I have agents, but, I don't know, it's tough. It'd be cool to make my own thing again, but I'd love to just get cast in something. It's got to be the right thing, though.
Give me a recent movie that you could have seen yourself starring in. Something that would be the right fit.
I love The Wrestler.Something like a redemption piece.
What do you think is your best role?
I like Pauly Shore Is Dead. I've got to be honest. It was emotional, and it was real and funny and dark and relatable, and it wasn't goofy, and it was just really fucking funny. Have you seen it? You gotta watch it. You're going to fucking die.
You do seem enthused throughout the film. Are you happy at this point in your life and career?
Yeah! Yeah. You know what I mean? I'm sad because of my mom. You know. I'm sad because of that.
Would you ever want to follow in your mom's footsteps and open your own comedy place?
I was thinking about opening up a Weasel's Bar and Grill, kind of like my version of [Sammy Hagar's] Cabo Wabo, you know? Have you ever been to Cabo Wabo? It'd have crusty fries, Weasel soup, you know. It would be called Pauly Shore's Weasel Bar and Grill and the menu would say "Grindage." You know, you'd open it up and it'd say buck burger, stony fries, crusty salad. And it would be like, a theme. But I don't know. Maybe I might start a Weasel Juice Bar first. Start off small. You know? Right?
I can't tell if you're joking.
No, I'm serious. I think it would be dope. Think about it. Weasel Juice Bar, dude. The Weasel Juice is from Encino Man.
How do you think Pauly Shore the public figure is different from Pauly Shore the individual?
My public persona is already defined because my movies hit so hard and they're so big, and I was so popular in that style, so everybody thinks that's who I am, and that's who I was. And this is who I am now. I like being alone. I like channel-surfing, sitting in my bed, and relaxing. I'm used to being alone now. And I still think I'm just as funny now, or even funnier, because I think my style is more relatable now than it was back then, which was very kind of niche to the kids.
Do you smoke weed? I mean, you live in California.
Yeah, now and then! A lot of people think I'm stoned all the time. Maybe because of the way I perform and do my thing. And I'm actually not stoned. I like to smoke pot if, like, I go away on a trip with a girlfriend to Hawaii, or if I'm just away on a beach and I've got my reggae on and I'm in my Speedo.
So what's next?
I have a podcast that's out right now and it's actually going to be on Podcast One soon. So this week's [guest is] Chris Rock, which is cool. I always wanted to do a movie with him, like The Little Rascals where I play Alfalfa and he plays Buckwheat. I think that would be really funny, like, for real, dude. No, but seriously. I've talked to him about it—I'd play Alfalfa and he'd play Buckwheat.
Within your repertoire of stand-up right now, what's a joke that kind of captures what you do now? What's the bit?
It's probably the one called "When I Was Your Age." It's basically a run that I do where I start by talking about being older now and that I'm at a place where I like to stay home and baby-powder my balls and watch TV.
Then, I talk about not getting laid and preventing wear and tear on your dick—because you have to save your semen. Next, I talk about when I was your age, like, whoever would have thought that Pauly Shore would actually utter the words, "When I was your age?" A lot of my audience and fans are in their 30s and 40s, so they remember that time. They can relate.
You talk about being content with your adult life, but also how you want other career success and human connection—a partner, a child. There seems to be a stark juxtaposition between wanting to be alone and wanting people to empathize with you and be understanding.
It's not that I want to be alone. I just am alone. My point is that we're all alone. There are people in marriages that are alone. We're all going to die alone. We all came in here alone. Everyone around us is just [in] relationships for periods—not all of life. And my documentary captures that. It's really about a guy who's in his 40s who's alone: His mom's sick, he's not talking to his siblings, he's on the road, but he's optimistic and he's not cynical about where his life's at.
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