By the time Paul Reiser started college all he wanted to do was be a standup comedian.
The roles in film and television, creating and producing television series, and authoring three books were never part of the plan.
When Reiser hit it big with the award-winning sitcom “Mad About You” – a show he created and wrote that debuted in September 1992 for the first of seven seasons on NBC – he temporarily put his standup shows on hold.
After more than two decades off stage, Reiser returned a few years ago doing what he loves to do most: making a room – or theater – full of people laugh.
On Friday night, Reiser brings his ongoing “casual tour” to the Paramount in Peekskill.
“I’d always thought I’d get back to it,” he told The Examiner last Tuesday in an interview from Los Angeles. “It was a plan but I didn’t know when or why or why specifically, but when I did it was very telling because it was exactly the same experience as when I was 18. It was just as new, it was just as scary, it was just as exciting and fun.”
Even for a seasoned standup, Reiser, 62, had to knock off the rust, which he said took him about a year to do. He realized there was a wealth of material at his fingertips. His most recognizable work has been derived from his own life, whether it be his standup, “Mad About You” or his three bestsellers, “Couplehood,” “Babyhood,” featuring his trademark humor on being a first-time father, and “Familyhood.”
“Your career is very different (now) than in your twenties, and being married 25, 30 years is very different from being newly wed and there are more creative changes and your attitude changes and your perspective changes,” Reiser said. “So I’m still writing as I always did, there’s just more to write about, there’s more to talk about now.”
Reiser, who heads out on the road for an average of one show every other weekend, is looking forward to his return to New York. In addition to the Paramount, he’ll perform at St. George’s Theatre in Staten Island on Saturday. He loves getting back to New York where the crowds are the most responsive.
“It’s always more fun for me to play in the tristate area,” Reiser said. “Everything’s a little bit funnier close to New York for me. They just laugh better.”
A New York City product, he graduated Manhattan’s Stuyvesant High School and was a music major at SUNY Binghamton. Reiser started doing standup as soon as he got to college.
The 1970s saw the rise of some of the famous New York comedy clubs such as Catch a Rising Star and The Improv, and the networks and Hollywood began scouting them for new comedic talent. After graduating from college, Reiser was able to perform at those and other venues, which led to his first break, a role in the 1982 film “Diner.”
That brought other opportunities, including “Beverly Hills Cop” and “Beverly Hills Cop II” and starring in the late ‘80s sitcom “My Two Dads.”
But Reiser continued hitting the comedy club circuit despite his onscreen successes. His goal had always been to emulate George Carlin or Robert Klein.
“There was sort of a path to follow, which by the way, is the stupidest career plan in the world,” Reiser said. “There’s no reason to think that because you show up to some lousy club, you’re going to have a career, but it worked out.”
The biggest opportunity was when a studio was looking to develop ideas for network shows and invited Reiser to contribute. The idea he submitted, taken from his own experiences as a newlywed, was sent to NBC and was the outline for “Mad About You.” It was picked up by the network for the 1992-93 season.
In addition to his standup, Reiser was invited to the cast of the Netflix hit “Stranger Things” for the second season. The role of Sam Owens, a Department of Energy executive, was created for him.
“Sometimes it’s very easy to say yes,” he said.
Friday’s show at the Paramount is at 8 p.m. Tickets are $50, $65 and $75. For more information, visit www.paramounthudsonvalley.com.
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/