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Rob Schneider likes ‘freedom’ of doing stand-up comedy


How do you know you’ve been famous a long time?

Rob Schneider says he’s fine watching the Super Bowl on TV.

“Since the 49ers lost I’m fine with it,” he says about performing at the South Point Friday and Saturday instead of heading to chilly New Jersey.

“I’ve been to about 10,” he says of the big game. And, as he “got more famous and richer, the seats got better.”

“When I was a kid if you told me I’d go to one Super Bowl I would have lost my marbles. But now it’s like a giant promotional swing. … They always fly you out there to promote something during the Super Bowl and ask you dumb questions.

“I was relieved that I didn’t have to go this year,” he says. “Just to know how jaded you get after a while.”

So this weekend he will be in front of a TV to root on the Seattle Seahawks who beat his San Francisco 49ers. “I’m an NFC guy and I think they’re gonna kill the Broncos,” he says.

Las Vegas is always the next-best place to be on Super Bowl weekend, even when the game is played indoors. But this year is shaking up some local traditions.

George Strait fans aren’t sure if this will be his pregame concert on the Strip. The UFC fight is out of town this year. And although the Strip is packed with stand-up headliners as usual for this ultimate guy’s weekend, most of the names play here other times of year as well: Daniel Tosh, Tim Allen, Dana Carvey and Andrew Dice Clay.

Schneider is a fresher face, having only renewed his commitment to stand-up in the past three years. He started out in lower-profile cities and clubs “just to figure it out again, figure out how this is going to work again.

“I really had to throw myself into it and … it was something I knew I just couldn’t do part time,” he adds. “I had to really commit to doing this 100 percent. The only way to do anything.”

It’s become a familiar pattern for comedians of a certain age — and Schneider is 50 — to return to stand-up after bruising experiences in Hollywood.

“Stand-up saved me twice. It got me into show business and recently got me into doing what I really want to do,” he says. “I like the freedom it affords me.”

Schneider is well-sustained by his movie run of hits with buddy Adam Sandler, including “Grown Ups” and “The Longest Yard.” But a more ambitious comic drama he directed and starred in, “The Chosen One,” ended up buried as a direct-to-video release.

Schneider does a dead-on impression of Dustin Hoffman over the phone as he imitates Hoffman telling Sandler and him, “You guys gotta start working with people who are better than you. You guys gotta get better, and the only way to do that is people who know more about something than you.”

But “The Chosen One” derailed, he says, because of “a crazy French director (George Sluizer) who lost his marbles. … I fired him six weeks in and had to finish the movie myself.”

So Schneider doesn’t argue that it’s “absolutely freeing” to be back in total control on a stand-up stage. Or to self-release material such as a recent collaboration with veteran comedian-activist Dick Gregory, which he is rushing into release as an album.

He is also financing a new sitcom project, “Real Rob,” entirely on his own.

However that works out, Schneider says fans have accepted his transition back to stand-up, and aren’t yelling out for the office nickname guy from “Saturday Night Live” or the “You can do it!” man.

“When I first started getting back into it, I felt the necessity to give them what they want,” he says. “Now I feel my act is strong enough that I don’t have to cater to their perceptions of what they’ve seen me do in the past.

“I’m a real stand-up. As soon as I hit the stage, I don’t give them a chance to breathe. I just keep them laughing for an hour, that’s the goal. … As an artist you have to lead. You have to make the decisions.”

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.

 

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