Getting Real with Rob Schneider
Mar 16, 2017 04:00PM ● Published by Nicole Gould
Photo by Julia Kuzmenko
He spent four seasons on the hit show, Saturday Night Live, where he continued to develop his relationship with fellow comedian, Adam Sandler. The best part about Schneider? He is so versatile, that when it comes to acting, no matter what role you throw his way, he not only evolves into that character, but he excels at it. This can be seen through some of Schneider’s well-known films including 50 First Dates, Hot Chick, Deuce Bigalow, Grown Ups, The Benchwarmers, Mr. Deeds, Big Daddy, and so on.
Did you know that Schneider is the only actor that has ever written, produced, starred in, directed, and financed an entire season of a television show? His new independent sitcom, Real Rob, has become such a success, that filming for season two is already underway.
If you’ve never heard of it, this scripted series is based on Schneider’s real life, along with his wife, Patricia Azarcoya. You can bet it’ll give you a chuckle or two.
“I didn’t feel I could do what I wanted to do on CBS. I told myself if I had another chance, I was going to do exactly what I wanted to do. I’m doing it with my wife and its coming out fantastic. I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.” – Rob Schneider
Continuing his career in Sandler films, catch Schneider as part of the Netflix original film, Sandy Wexler, set to release April 14, 2017.
Don’t miss Rob Schneider at Rams Head On Stage Saturday, March 18th at 6 p.m. & 9 p.m. Tickets are $45.
When did comedic performance first consume you and was there a defining moment when you knew that it was what you wanted to do with your life? Is there anyone you looked up to for direction?
That’s an interesting question. My dad was very responsive to humor. We would always go see comedy movies. When we had cable TV around 1975, I remember watching a documentary about the screen comedians in the silent era. It was a difficult time for people’s lives and how much people really enjoy and needed the relief. I thought, you know, that’s a pretty special thing.
It really had an impact on me. I just remember seeing Gene Wilder and wondering why he was so old. He was 40 at the time and I wondered why didn’t he make it when he was younger. I mean, I was a little kid and very naive about it. Now, I realize it takes years to make it. He was lucky and had Mel Brooks. They were each other’s muse. I think that’s kind of where it started for me.
Let’s talk about your newest project, your Netflix original series, Real Rob. What inspired you to start this series? What can people expect to see from the show? Can you tell me what it’s like to not only act, but also write and direct the series? What expectations did you have coming into the first season, which has been renewed for a second?
The fact that I didn’t feel I could do what I wanted to do on CBS. I told myself if I had another chance, I was going to do exactly what I wanted to do. I’m doing it with my wife and its coming out fantastic. I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.
The first season we paid for and they’re paying for the second. It’s a lot bigger and there’s a lot more stunts. I mean it’s called Real Rob. The comedy is more aggressive. It’s fun, I’ve been very lucky to meet John Cleese, who told me the thing about Monty Python was how they were writing for themselves and what they could perform.
My wife and I are writing what we know we can perform and works for us and no one else. There’s not a bunch of writers trying to figure out what’s funny, it’s just us and I prefer that and I think I can write well for myself.
I wanted people to see it and, apparently, they did to get it renewed, which is huge. There’s a lot of shows about comedians, but I don’t think someone has this. I want mine to be funny. I don’t have pretentions about anything, but be funny, cut closer to the bone, and be a little leaner and meaner. I don’t know how long I’ll be doing it; couple seasons maybe. I want to do something that has the potential to be something great. How often do you get to do that in this crazy business where its mostly about money?
You’ve had a very successful career starring in comedy films. Out of all of those films, which one would say was your favorite to film and why? Did you ever feel uncomfortable acting in any of those films?
There’s been a bunch, but I really liked one that hardly anyone saw, Big Stan. I like Deuce Bigalow, Hot Chick; that’s probably the best of all of them. Hot Chick was probably the most popular because it’s held up all these years. 50 First Dates is also a great one; I mean Adam Sandler has made some terrific comedies and I’m very proud to be a part of them.
I think there’s something really special about this TV show because I’m with my wife, it’s a reverse of I Love Lucy. I’m Lucy and she’s Ricky Ricardo. It’s fun, but its modern and I think it has some gravitas to it. I think there’s something going on and I can’t put my finger on it, and I don’t want to comment on the art, I just want to do it and let other people come to their own conclusions. You shouldn’t be self-conscience about your art and just do it.
Andy Warhol said, “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” This is the closest I’ve ever gotten to fulfilling that 1960s prophecy.
The majority of your films where produced by Adam Sandler. How did the two of you originally meet and what was it like working with Sandler? Do you two continue to keep in touch?
We’re both comedians and were both were on Saturday Night Live. We were friends before that and shared a dressing room for several years. I always say there’s a sense of trust between us because when you’re trying to get laughs, and you’re not, you can get stuck, you need someone there to throw you a life raft, and he knows that if he and I are in a scene there’s going to be someone else to cover the other guy; sense of trust and taste there. He goes somewhere, I follow and if I go somewhere, he might like it.
That’s the joy to work with someone. It’s like a comedy team. You have a sense of camaraderie and mutual respect, a dependency. Just like a pitcher needs the catcher or a third basemen needs the first basement. That’s the joy of it to me not knowing what’s going to happen. I just wanted to be a character actor like Alec Guinness. Adam Sandler has allowed me to play these different rolls and ethnicities. I don’t have to play my race and color. I’m many races: Russian, Asian, German, and Spanish. I want to play anything, including a woman. I’m not going to let other people define how I’m going to express myself; I refuse to do that in this political world. It’s control of other people’s form of expressions. That’s what’s happening.
Tell me some more about your stand-up comedy. What sort of material do you tend to lean toward and how do you continue to keep the material fresh for each audience? What is your approach to the creative process and is there ever a particular setting where you come up with the best ideas or do they just come to you?
You kind of work on it for a year and half, maybe two, and you craft something that will work and it’s like you have a different book for different readers. It shifts, but I don’t think audiences in different places are different. If they’re coming to have a good time and laugh, they will. It’s a crafted show. Some of it, you have to comment on what’s happening in America. Some people don’t know how they feel. The press covers their own conclusions about political status. It’s fluid. I think it’s an interesting time. You have to comment on that to be a comedian, but at the same time it’s important to ride the middle as best you can. You don’t want to cater to the left or the right. To me that’s easy. The easiest form of comedy is making fun of Trump. I think that’s the height of laziness. Not saying you shouldn’t, it’s just too easy and lazy. You got to let it die now and move on to something else.
Reading is what helps the most, you have to be around it and influenced by other artists and ideas. You have to stimulated by things in your life. Interesting people are interested. I have young kids, so that’s exciting and a beautiful young talent, which is also exciting. It’s the best time of my life right now. At this very moment. And I’m conscious of it and make myself be aware of this.
For someone that’s been in the acting and comedy industry, is there a such thing as stage fright? Do you ever get nervous before a show? How do you prepare?
I never get nervous. I get excited, but never nervous anymore. I just don’t have the nerves. I mean maybe I did five or six years ago. This one time in England I was performing in front of a completely sober audience and they were just staring at me. I prefer if they had drinks. I don’t see myself nervous anymore. Maybe that’s a bad thing. I think you should be a little. I get excited.
What’s one thing that your audience and fans might not know about you
Probably that I’m a very serious person. I’m a Zen Buddhist. Comedians are workaholics, controlling people as far as their craft and their art and in their lives. It’s a very serious thing, you make it look effortless, but only because its crafted. The art of the art is to appear like it’s not art.
What’s next for Rob Schneider? Anything we should be looking forward to?
The next movie I’m in is with Adam Sandler in Sandy Wexler on Netflix and it’s really good. I think it’s one of my favorite films Adam has ever made. He really captured the 90s, just like he did the 80s in the Wedding Singer, in a really cool way. He’s a brilliant film maker. Hopefully the critics will come around and realize how brilliant he is.