It has been 27 years since “Aliens” came out, but people still bombard comedian Paul Reiser with “Aliens” questions because he played the bad guy Burke in the action-horror classic.
“At every gig, people invariably come up to me with posters to sign and ‘Aliens’ trivia,” Reiser tells me. “I go, ‘Where’d you get that?’\u2009”
Reiser’s “Aliens” character was so slimy, his sister punched him in the stomach after she saw the movie.
“I always maintain he was just a guy doing his job,” Reiser jokes. “There was some collateral damage. Sorry to say, it happens.”
Tonight at Harrah’s Improv, Reiser performs his first-ever Vegas stand-up gig.
Reiser started in comedy 30 years ago, then he did “Aliens” and the TV hit “Mad About You.” After that, he starred in Woody Allen’s play “Writer’s Block” and wrote a book.
Reiser went back to comedy clubs a year ago and still has sharp chops.
On “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” he said his wife got upset because she is a psychologist with a doctorate, but Reiser kept calling her a psychotherapist. Reiser asked his wife, “What’s the difference?”
“She said, ‘You’re a comedian right?’ Would you like it if I told people you’re a clown?’\u2009”
THE IMPROV’S ANNIVERSARY
Performing with Reiser is Budd Friedman. Who the hell is Budd Friedman?
Well, he got blown up by a grenade in the battle of Pork Chop Hill in Korea. Then he moved home to New York and invented the first comedy club.
Friedman’s New York and Los Angeles Improvs helped launch the careers of DeGeneres, Richard Pryor, Chris Rock, Lily Tomlin, Freddie Prinze, Andy Kaufman, Eddie Murphy, Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, Adam Sandler, Dave Chappelle, Bette Midler (a singing waitress at the Improv), HBO head Chris Albrecht (he was an Improv club manager), Judd Apatow (he was a door manager) and Debra Winger (she was a waitress).
Friedman’s stories are legendary, such as the time he gave Liza Minnelli her first singing job at age 15.
“She still calls me Mr. Friedman,” Friedman says.
One of his favorite comedians is Rock.
“He came into the Improv in Los Angeles when he was just off ‘Saturday Night Live,’ and he was Eddie Murphy’s protégé. But his act stunk,” Friedman says.
“Then he disappeared for two years. I don’t know what happened, but he came back, and he was brilliant. I said to him, ‘You’ve finally grown into your ego.’\u2009”
Friedman says he ran a tight ship, so comedians never pulled out hard drugs in front of him.
But he saw the late Freddie Prinze zonked out backstage in Vegas. Friedman and Leno went to see Prinze open for Shirley MacLaine. Afterward, they tried talking to Prinze.
“And there’s Freddie eating some eggs in slow-slow motion. And we’re watching him. And he’s not responding. I said to Jay, ‘This guy’s boring, let’s go say hello to Shirley MacLaine.’
“Who knew from quaaludes? He was loaded. Poor Freddie. I thought he was just snubbing us.”
At the Improv tonight, also look for Friedman’s funny business partner Mark Lonow, who started as an actor on the TV show “Archie Bunker’s Place” and the film “Thank God It’s Friday.”
“I became a partner (at the Improv in 1979) when Les Moonves was our bartender — Les Moonves, the CEO of CBS Viacom,” Lonow says.
Yes, these guys have been around the block.
Friedman says they’re “sprucing up” the lineup at Harrah’s Improv this year with Reiser, David Alan Grier, Kevin Pollak and others.
“Harrah’s is really going all out to make it a good year for us,” Friedman says.
Doug Elfman’s column appears Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He also writes for Neon on Fridays. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.