Flipping MTV VJ into a full-time comedy career
Shore to bring his show to Freemasons Hall
Photo by Rebecca Joelson
December 19, 2019
People don’t choose comedy as a vocation. Comedy chooses comedians, according to Pauly Shore, who will perform at Freemason’s Hall on Dec. 30.
Of course, Shore had more opportunities than most to be chosen by comedy. He’s the son of the late Mitzi Shore, founder of the Comedy Store in Los Angeles.
Growing up in comedy
“When I was 11 years old, my mom was partying downstairs with Richard Pryor and Robin Williams and all these different comedians, and I told my mom to be quiet, I had school in the morning, and they all laughed,” Shore told The Pensacola (Fla.) News-Journal. “I kind of fed on that.”
“My whole life has been a two-drink minimum,” he told The Buffalo News. “At the time it was normal, but when you look back on it, it was kind of weird. It was cutting edge.”
It’s not always easy to follow in the footsteps of famous parents (and their famous friends), but Shore managed it.
He became a star in his own right. He was a popular MTV VJ back in the days when the phrase “popular MTV VJ” wasn’t an oxymoron.
“[It was] kind of like Willy Wonka and the chocolate house,” he said. “I got the golden ticket. I was very fortunate, right place at the right time.”
The Birth of ‘The Weasel’
He created a character, “The Weasel,” that came to define him, just as Spock defined Leonard Nimoy and Batman defined Adam West.
Shore has tried to distance himself from the Weasel in recent years, but there is only so much space that he can put between himself and the character.
“I think it’s an easy way in for me,” he told The Roanoke (Va.) Times. “People that are there, most of them aren’t there because they saw me on Funny or Die or any of my internet videos. They’re there because of my films, and those films are 20 years ago or so.
“It’s the elephant in the room. You have to acknowledge it and make fun of it and talk about it, then you don’t have to do it again.
“[Or] you can take the more challenging road, which I don’t take, which is just ignore it,” Shore said. “And then people are going to be scratching their head, saying, ‘Hey, I paid to see a guy kind of be silly about his movies, and now he’s not.’ You can’t bite the hand that feeds you.”
Shore said The Weasel was closer to who he really was 30 years ago than Pee Wee Herman was to Paul Reubens in the 1980s.
But that’s why it is easier for Reubens to resurrect his character.
“The Weasel is a party guy who likes to get (expletive) and have a good time, and is very childish or selfish, or just like, ‘Hey, bro,’” Shore told The Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “That’s cool when you’re in your 20s, but when you get into your 40s and 50s, your interests change.
“After my shows now, it’s not, ‘Let’s go to a bar and get (drunk)’ or ‘I want to get (expletive),’” he said. “When you’re younger that’s just the way we are, whether you’re The Weasel or not, but as you get older things change.”
With his time as a movie star well behind him, Shore makes a living these days through aggressive touring and a robust online presence, including a podcast and a YouTube channel.
He sounds more resigned to this career strategy than enthusiastic about it.
“It’s kind of sad really, that in order to make it the old-fashioned way, the best way, was with your talent,” Shore told The Reno (Nev.) Gazette-Journal. “Now with Instagram and Twitter and everything, it’s not through talent. Of course, there are some who are talented, I’m not saying that. But you get the Justin Biebers and people that are just squeaking through.
“I feel like everyone has just saturated the market,” he said. “But that’s the way it is now. You go to wherever the cheese is, especially in comedy. You can’t really fight it.”
Shore said he’s more of a “crusty weasel now.”
“My philosophy on life is to look at what you have as opposed to what you don’t have,” he told The Canton (Ohio) Repository. “I’m lucky I even made it. I’m lucky I’m a household name. I was a hit on MTV and I struck a nerve with America, and I was able to parlay that into film. I’ll always be grateful for that.”