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'Mad About You' star shares mad laughs in Bangor

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Paul Reiser Paul Reiser

Comedian Paul Reiser is coming to Bangor this weekend to make people laugh. Reiser, who starred in the popular NBC '90s sitcoms 'My Two Dads' and 'Mad About You,' began his career as a stand-up comedian long before he started acting. Besides TV, he's also had the opportunity to star in several movies, including 'Aliens,' 'Beverly Hills Cop I' and 'II,' and most recently he played Matt Damon's lawyer in the Emmy award winning HBO movie 'Behind the Candelabra.' 

But what most people may not realize is that Reiser is also gifted in music. He wrote the theme song 'Final Frontier' for 'Mad About You' and collaborated with and played piano for British singer/songwriter Julia Fordham on the album Unusual Suspects. When he wasn't busy acting or making music he found time to become an author. Reiser has written three books so far 'Couplehood,' 'Babyhood' and 'Familyhood,' and he shows no signs of slowing down. I recently had the opportunity to talk with him by phone. He said he's looking forward to visiting the Gracie Theatre and sharing some universal laughs about the absurdities of modern life.

The Maine Edge: You started out as a comedian, and now you're back doing stand-up. Does it seem like dj vu?

Reiser: It's not dj vu. It's sort of like an unscheduled detour. I just wrote this piece in the Huffington Post on David Brenner's passing. He was a big influence on me. I remember when I was 18 that's all I wanted to do was be a comedian. My heroes were comedians, not actors, and that's what I saw myself doing. 'Diner' was my first movie and that led to two other things and all the while I was always doing TV and out of my stand-up grew 'Mad About You.' And when 'Mad About You' took off, that consumed me and I never managed to get back to it [stand-up]. It was always my intention to get back. A lot of comedians start out as comics so they can hopefully get a job and never have to do it again, and that was never my plan. 

TME: How has comedy or jokes changed over your career?

Reiser: I don't think they've changed at all. I think what was really refreshing to see is it hasn't changed, the act of doing it is exactly as hard, exactly as challenging and exactly as rewarding. When you do a joke on Wednesday and then it's better on Thursday, there's no better feeling - and there are no shortcuts. Doing stand-up is so low tech. There's no shortcut. I'll tell you what has been different for me is going out now, it's more fun than I remember. For one, it's just nice to get out of the house. But truly the relationship with the audience is a lot more personal and feels a lot more intimate. If they know me from 'Mad About You' or my books, they're not going to be shocked at all. It's sort of like getting together with old friends and that's how I feel when I get on stage these days.

TME: You're coming to Maine to do two shows. Do you think Mainers will relate to you?

Reiser: I'll tell you the thing that I've been tickled to see is people are very much the same. There are differences in their little local references and so on, but the stuff I'm talking about is not big city stuff or Hollywood stuff. Everybody's got families and everybody's getting older and everybody is trying to figure out the world and technology and everything that's changing in front of them. So I've been pleasantly surprised to see that all corners of the country, wherever you go, everyone is laughing at the same things.

TME: Does your standup routine change based on your audience or the location of your shows?

Reiser: A little bit here and there. Even if it is the same material, it changes night to night, and the audience will take you a certain way. I'll be honest with you, I don't have 30 minutes of Bangor jokes. 

TME: What makes you laugh?

Reiser: My kids make me laugh. I'm constantly surprised at what comes out of their mouths and what surprised them and what makes them laugh. They make me laugh all the time.

TME: You're currently filming the FX show 'Married.' What is your role on the show?

Reiser: I'm doing a recurring role, not a starring role, so I'm in about five episodes. It's very funny and it's a different look at marriage than 'Mad About You.' It's a different character and different story, and for me it's a treat to go and do someone else's show because I don't have to worry about the whole script or next week's script.  

TME: Out of everything you've been able to do - stand-up, acting, producing, writing, making music - what do you enjoy the most?

Reiser: As hard and challenging as stand-up is, it's not complicated. It's not easy, but it's not complicated. You just think of something funny, go on stage and say it. In television and movies, there are so many other people. You have an idea for a movie, you have to write it and then sell it and raise money and then you have to have a studio and you have to have a million things go your way. But in stand-up, the thing that is so appealing about it is you are free of all that. You just tell your jokes and it's just you and the audience. I love that, and I love being out there.

Reiser will perform two shows at the Gracie Theatre in Bangor, Saturday, April 12. Show times are 6 & 8:30 p.m. For tickets, call 941-7051 or log onto www.

Last modified on Tuesday, 08 April 2014 21:29


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