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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Not robbed of laughter

Cinemimi[Tuesday, December 06, 2011]
HollywoodSERIOUSLY SPEAKING Rob Schneider: ‘Everybody is an actor, and it is something you don’t realise until much later in life’

Hollywood funny man Rob Schneider admits rather seriously to Catherine Rhea Roy that his is a field where the next movie can very easily be your last

We are talking about the big league — entourage, agents and all the wondrous trappings of Hollywood. We are talking to Rob Schneider, hot chick, gigolo and bona fide Hollywood funny man. He was in the country on his maiden visit, a several-city tour for a fresh round of Black Dog Comedy Evenings. Like every foreigner who visits, he broke the ice with the standard greeting in the local language, “Namaskara!” he exclaimed to the little coterie that had gathered, which was received with practised exclamations of surprise and giggles.

After some brief confusion about seating, we quickly plunged into conversation about Hollywood, comedy and his work. “My father owned a collection of comedy albums, which I used to listen to while I was growing up. And coming from a cross cultural family, there were stark differences in culture, but the one thing that we had in common was that we loved to laugh. I was also the youngest of five children, usually starved for attention, and a little monster. All of this helped in creating an artist,” says Rob.

He began his career with Saturday Night Live and has been stuck in the funny mould ever since. “They call it typecast, but I say, at least you are being cast. There are different levels of unemployment, sometimes you have to do the same thing that you are good at, and if I want to, I will have to break out myself. I want to do a movie about my mother and her childhood during the Japanese occupation,” says the actor.

His wife helps him write some of his jokes but he writes most of them and he loves writing. “It is all part of the same tree, just different branches,” he says about everything that goes into performing. “I am a stage performer, but I haven't figured out how to do everything yet. Maybe a stage show in multi media form? Maybe that's what I should be doing.”

Right now it is just one man and a microphone, and Rob has to go to where the work is. “It is very mercenary.

Some countries like Argentina and Ireland have socialised the arts. They have recognised the arts as nationally important and contribute to supporting it. In the U.S. everything is treated as a capitalist venture. You have to find the funding for your own work, which is a blessing and a curse,” says Rob before he continues with the reality of Hollywood.

“I continue to act but wouldn't mind transitioning. It is a field where the next movie can very easily be your last, and if you have been around as long as I have, you realise it. As an actor I have been able to stretch it.”

Probably inspired by the comedy albums he listened to as a child, Rob released his own album, “Registered Offender”. And with just a moment's hesitation he volunteers, “It was made over a few years and during a dark time in my life.” I nod, not sure if he is being funny. “In Hollywood we use a term called tonnage, which is what my album suffered from. Tonnage makes it lopsided. Then again I am my own worst critic and I would never do it again.”

Rob starts his new TV show in January, “It's called ‘Rob', which was a default, last-minute decision. I actually avoided television for so long, because it is an invasion of your life and it becomes harder to hide,” says Rob, who is very big on privacy and his space.

“Everybody is an actor, and it is something you don't realise until much later in life. I would tell not particularly funny stories and get people to laugh; I could either fight it or go with it.” He then paraphrases James Joyce, “At a certain point of your life you are an awkward young person, if you're curious about it you're at the beginning of being an artist and what follows is decades of disappointment and hopefully a few laughs.”

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