BY JEREMY SHERE
The Comedy Attic has brought many big names to Bloomington, but probably none bigger than comedian, actor, and best-selling author Paul Reiser, who is appearing there October 25 and 26 as part of his return to stand-up comedy after a successful two decades on TV and in movies.
“Doing TV and films is great, but I missed the immediacy of stand-up,” says Reiser, 56, best known for co-starring with Helen Hunt in the popular sitcom Mad About You during the 1990s and recently named one of the top 100 stand-up comics of all time by Comedy Central. “You can think of a joke in the afternoon and try it out that same night.”
Although Reiser has never been to Bloomington, he says he’s looking forward to coming here and playing The Comedy Attic, which was recently voted one of the top 10 comedy clubs in the country by USA Today. “I’ve heard great things about Bloomington and about the Attic,” says Reiser, adding that he enjoys being on the road and exploring the feel and flavor of new places.
After starting out in stand-up and rising through the ranks during the mid to late ’70s, including an appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Reiser got a foot in the Hollywood door with a breakout role in the classic film Diner in 1982. That led to prominent roles in other movies, including Beverly Hills Cop I and II (1984, 1987), and Aliens (1986). He has also authored two best-selling books Couplehood and Babyhood.
So why return to the rigors of stand-up?
“I’d always intended to get back to stand-up simply because I loved it,” says Reiser, who was inspired to go back on stage after doing a set at a charity event in New York. “It was a great night, a great crowd, and after I got offstage I thought to myself, ‘Wow, I really miss doing this!’”
After six months rebuilding his stand-up chops, Reiser explains the experience this way: “It’s kind of like basketball when you haven’t played in a few years; at first you can still hit the basket but it ain’t pretty.” Now that it is “pretty,” Reiser has taken his act on the road with all new material. And so far, he says, the results have been as good as he could have expected. “I’m actually enjoying it more now than when I first started because people know me and know my work,” he says. “Doing stand-up now is like reconnecting with old friends.”
For his Bloomington audience, Reiser has a special offer. “For anyone who comes to see me at The Comedy Attic and doesn’t have a great time, I promise to come back and take them out to see a funnier comic.”