Pauly Shore reflects on career from ‘Encino Man’ to ‘Bio-Dome’ en route to gigs at DC Comedy Loft

Hear our full conversation on my podcast “Beyond the Fame.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Pauly Shore at the DC Comedy Loft (Part 1)

When Brendan Fraser and Ke Huy Quan both won Academy Awards last month for “The Whale” and “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” respectively, their “Encino Man” colleague Pauly Shore was ecstatic to see his old pals persevere to achieve Oscar glory.

“You can never stop believing, you can never stop dreaming,” Shore told WTOP.

“That’s what life is about. This life is about dreaming and believing. Everyone is going to tell you ‘no,’ everyone’s going to tell you you’re not worthy or you’re not good enough or this or that, but you have to believe in you. That’s what these guys did. Brendan got the sh*t beat out of him for 20 years, then this director called him up. It’s one phone call. Same with Ke.”

That’s right, all it takes is one phone call — which is probably why Shore made time to call into WTOP to promote his upcoming standup gigs at the D.C. Comedy Loft & Bier Baron Tavern this Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

“Someone hears this in Washington, and they’ll want me to run for president. Just like that. But the problem is if I ran for president with a straight face, I’d probably win,” Shore said.

“I’m the kind of comic who doesn’t know where he’s going to go. My whole life and career has been very spontaneous, so I’ve gotta feel the stage. Once I get on stage, the audience will tell me where to go. I don’t sit and look at my notes before I go on, I just sort of rock ‘n roll.”

Born in Los Angeles in 1968, Shore grew up in Beverly Hills surrounded by standup comedians since his parents Sammy and Mitzi Shore owned The Comedy Store, a famous comedy club in West Hollywood founded in 1972.

“My mom is very intense with her work, and my dad was a comedian. So I’m kind of like Frankenstein where I’m a combination of my parents,” Shore said.

“It’s kind of in my veins, so I got the bug growing up in it. … Back in the day, I would watch guys like Robin Williams or Sam (Kinison) or (David) Letterman. Now, I’m watching these kids and they’re so f’n lazy. I’m not saying they’re bad. It’s just my eyeballs have seen the best, so I’m kind of jaded.”

Shore made his standup debut when he was a 17-year-old the Alley Cat Bistro in Culver City before landing TV roles on “21 Jump Street,” “St. Elsewhere” and “Married … with Children.” His big break came as an MTV video jockey between and 1989 and 1994, hosting the annual “Spring Break” broadcasts and even getting his own show called “Totally Pauly” (1990-2003).

“It’s just a timing thing,” Shore said.

“I bring up Justin Bieber a lot. He was on the stairs and someone filmed it and sent it to Usher. … For me, that YouTube video was MTV. That’s where we were at the time in the early ’90s. When I got on camera, for some reason it resonated with people. … MTV was the biggest thing back then, it’s where everyone wanted to go, it’s what all the kids were watching, and I was right there holding a microphone.”

Movie roles followed, teaming with Sean Astin to unearth a cave man under a swimming pool in “Encino Man” (1992); visiting Carla Gugino’s family for Thanksgiving in “Son-in-Law” (1993); joining Andy Dick as impromptu military grunts in “In the Army Now” (1993); prolonging a serial killer’s trial as freeloading juror in “Jury Duty” (1995); and getting trapped in a science experiment bubble with Stephen Baldwin in “Bio-Dome” (1996).

“I think ‘Bio-Dome’ seems like the biggest cult classic,” Shore said. “As an actor, I just go off and I become this character. And I engage in the story and then I walk away. What happens after that, I don’t know, I don’t have the answer of why people resonated with that one.”

His personal favorite work remains the mockumentary “Pauly Shore is Dead” (2003) about his fictional attempt to fake his own death to fundraise films.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the film featured cameos by Pamela Anderson, Tommy Chong, Carson Daly, Ellen DeGeneres, Dr. Dre, Eminem, Fred Durst, Corey Feldman, Paris Hilton, Mario Lopez, Sean Penn, Chris Rock, Charlie Sheen, Snoop Dogg, Britney Spears and Ben Stiller.

“I think that was my best movie because it was the first time that I had control of the whole thing,” Shore said.

“It was fun to try to figure out what the f— it was and the tone and painting the picture with all the cameos. Once I got Sean Penn … I was able to use that to get other people in there and say, ‘Hey, I got Sean Penn,’ and they were like, ‘F—, really?’ … It was the first part of the second part of my career.”

He played himself again in “Entourage” (2005-2007) and the documentary “Pauly Shore Stands Alone” (2014).

“I don’t always want to play myself, but these particular projects lent themselves for me to play myself, so it’s case by case, project by project,” Shore said.

“I don’t have kids, I don’t have a wife, I don’t have that whole thing that most people do. I have a dog and that’s enough for me right now. … His name is Buster, half lab, half chow and husky. He’s a great dog, he’s like my guy. It’s a lot of responsibility. … My dog is so big that he walks me now.”

Today, he’s mostly focused on being the funniest stand-up comedian possible.

“I’m 55, and I’m just as into it now and I was 10, 15 years ago,” Shore said.

“I’m flying on a plane all the way from Los Angeles to see you guys. That’s a long flight, that’s not enjoyable, but once I get on that stage, there’s the reason. … Standup comedy is a way of life, it’s not a job, it’s not a hobby. If you come at it with expectations that things will work out if you do it half-assed, it’s not going to happen. It’s seven days a week, 24 hours, I just love it.”

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WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Pauly Shore at the DC Comedy Loft (Part 2)

Hear our full conversation on my podcast “Beyond the Fame.”

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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