Paul Reiser says you can take a 20-year break from stand-up comedy. Just don’t try to pick up right where you left off.
“It’s not easy or quick to recapture the skill,” says the guy better remembered for TV’s “Mad About You” than the stand-up comedy that launched him. “If you’re a ballplayer and you don’t play for a long time, those muscles are not there.”
So Reiser, 56, spent more than six months doing walk-ons in comedy clubs before declaring himself ready for headliner bookings such as the Suncoast this weekend.
“I just started, really with nothing, and just started writing material. I realized how much I missed it,” he says, after hosting a charity event replanted the bug about two years ago.
Like many a comedian who works in film and television, Reiser touts the “immediacy” and “simplicity” of stand-up.
“You have an idea, you execute it. The payoff is instant,” he says. “You don’t have to wait for reviews, to see if you’re canceled or picked up. You’re right there. They’re laughing, and they’re telling you it’s working.”
It seems Reiser would relish that even more after NBC pulled the plug on his sitcom comeback, “The Paul Reiser Show,” after airing only two episodes in 2011.
But Reiser says he resumed stand-up before that, thinking “I’m going to be back on TV, I should probably work out (onstage) a little bit.”
For those who spent many a Thursday with “Mad About You” as part of NBC’s “must-see TV” night in the ’90s, Reiser says his shows have the air of old friends getting back together.
“In a way, I’ve always been talking about the same stuff,” he says. “Stand-up started clicking for me when I was talking about relationships, living together with my girlfriend who became my wife.
“It was interesting to me and usually the stuff that worked best. Out of that grew ‘Mad About You’ and out of ‘Mad About You’ grew the books.”
His new comedy has the same approach. “It’s just that life changes. Now it’s not talking about newlyweds but people who have been married 25 years. It’s just fun now getting to do it again in the way I have started.”
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.