Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Jake Frost
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Stanton Daily. Posted by Jake Frost
March 30, 1956
1992 - 1999
Currently Known For:
Actor, Comedian, Television Personality, Writer, Author and Musician
Mad About You and One of Comedy Central’s Greatest Stand-ups of All Time
“This is not the most right I’ve been.” Paul Reiser is an actor, comedian, television personality and writer who most people remember from his starring role opposite Helen Hunt in the 1990s’ comedy series, Mad About You. Apart from his incredible success on the show, Reiser actually got his start as a stand-up comedian in the early 1980s and has since been ranked by Comedy Central as one of the 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time. Of course, there’s far more to the 60-year-old Reiser than sitcoms and jokes as he’s made memorable film appearances in the 1982 flick Aliens and in two of the Beverly Hills Cop films. Along the way he’s launched his own production company called Nuance Productions, which produced many Mad About You episodes as well as Reiser’s short-lived series, The Paul Reiser Show in 2010. For someone who vowed to stick with his passion for stand-up, let’s see how Reiser’s career has come full circle bringing him back to comedy after over three decades in show business!
Hailing from New York, New York, Paul Reiser was born on March 30, 1956 to a wholesale health food distributor and a housewife. He enjoyed a seemingly normal childhood in the Big Apple and attended the East Side Hebrew Institute and then Stuyvesant High School where his original interests were in music composition and playing the piano. After high school, he went on to study music at Binghamton University where his on-campus dorm community had their own local theater organization called the Hinman Little Theater. As luck would have it, Reiser discovered his natural talents for acting as he participated in numerous student productions alongside his peers.
During Reiser’s summer breaks from the university, he returned to the heart of New York where he tried his hand at stand-up comedy during open mic nights at local nightclubs and comedy clubs. As he perfected his talents, it didn’t take long for talent scouts to take notice of his natural charisma when he was offered a small role in Barry Levinson’s 1982 film Diner starring Mickey Rourke. Cast as Modell, a “closet” stand-up comedian, Reiser’s performance was exactly what Levinson envisioned for the part as Hollywood came calling just two years later and offered Reiser a starring role alongside Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop. Even then, Reiser had no real plans on sticking with acting as he later told The Guardian, “When I started stand-up a thousand years ago, I always said stand-up was my main thing, and everything else, the acting, it was kind of a bonus.” Fortunately, Hollywood had other plans.
Reiser’s movie career picked up even more after 1986 when he appeared in James Cameron’s sci-fi flick, Aliens. A year later he reprised his detective role in Beverly Hills Cop II and was offered a starring role in a new television sitcom, My Two Dads, which lasted three seasons. After wrapping up the series in 1990, Reiser caught a huge break when he was offered an even bigger role as Paul Buchman opposite Helen Hunt in the comedy series, Mad About You. Playing Hunt’s husband and watching his costar take home an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe, Reiser earned numerous nominations himself including a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award. Coincidentally, Reiser also composed the show’s theme song, “Final Frontier,” and even performed the theme song, which was heard on over 160 episodes for seven seasons!
“When Mad About You started, I met Larry Gelbart, who created M*A*S*H… This was in the middle of the first season and battle fatigue had set in,” Reiser recalled. “I asked him, ‘How do you do it?’ And he said, ‘You have to remember—your shows are like your children. You’re going to make 22 children a year, and not all of them are going to be beautiful. A couple are going to be genius—you’re going to be so proud of their accomplishments. A couple, you’re going to want to keep in the house, don’t let ‘em be seen. And the vast majority will be just fine. They’ll be upstanding citizens, they’re not going to hurt anybody, they’re ok.’ And it turned out to be right.”
Finding his stamina on the series and eventually launching his own production company, Nuance Productions, which produced a few episodes of the show, Reiser wrapped up Mad About You in 1999 after earning $1 million per episode alongside Hunt. The ending, of course, was bittersweet, as it marked the end of an era for Reiser who’d snagged the role of a lifetime—a token of luck that was made all the more apparent as he made cameos in Curb Your Enthusiasm, One Night at McCool’s, The Thing About My Folks, The Aristocrats and Funny People. In 2011, he tried his luck on television once again with his own sitcom, The Paul Reiser Show, but NBC canceled the series after only seven episodes. Three years later, he appeared in 10 episodes of Married and has since joined Amazon Studios for their original online comedy series, Red Oaks.
Apart from his incredible success on Mad About You, Reiser has also proven his talents as an author with the release of Couplehood, Babyhood and Fatherhood, which are all rooted in his incredible marriage to Paul Ravets since 1988. “You know what the secret is to our marriage?” Reiser asks, “I’ll tell you the absolute secret to my successful marriage: I’m a delight and I think that really helps.” A delight or not, Reiser is certainly doing something right as a husband and a father to two sons, Ezra Samuel and Leon. Of course, his sense of humor certainly helps as the 60-year-old recently made his return to stand-up where he’s still old-fashioned in his approach. “That old model of going on The Tonight Show and killing it—that hasn’t been the case in decades. There’s plenty of comedians who are building a base on YouTube or through podcasts, but quality rises to the top… I’m never going to pop out of the box on YouTube. I’m slow and steady…” After all, slow and steady often wins the race!