Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

He's still here?

Yup, and Deuce Bigalow's dance card is full, with 10 SOLD-OUT SHOWS at Rumor's this week

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A weekend of sold-out shows in San Francisco last week. A cluster of sold-out shows in Winnipeg this week.

It's pretty clear that even two decades after his exit from Saturday Night Live, Rob Schneider remains a hot ticket among comedy fans.

"It's really nice, and very gratifying" says Schneider, 49, who is performing 10 sold-out shows (Wednesday, Feb. 27 to Sunday, March 3) at Rumor's Comedy Club. "I feel like all the stuff I've done over the years has added up. You can say, 'He's still here?' and that's OK. I don't mind. It has been a journey, and the only reason I'm still doing it is because I feel like I'm just getting started."

For the local comedy club, Schneider's popularity has created both an opportunity and a logistical challenge. Shows for the engagement -- originally the standard Thursday-to-Sunday booking that most big-name "concert series" acts get -- sold out so quickly that management was forced to approach the comic about adding dates.

Wednesday and Thursday are traditionally one-show nights at Rumor's, and the club is closed on Sundays, but the demand for tickets prompted the addition of extra midweek shows and an unprecedented pair of Sunday-night performances.

The club's general manager, Tyler Schultz, said 10 sold-out shows over five nights likely amounts to the busiest week in Rumor's Comedy Club's history.

And despite the fact it's been almost 20 years since Schneider ended his four-season run (1990-94) on SNL, his subsequent big-screen efforts (including Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, The Hot Chick, The Animal and appearances in several of fellow SNL alumnus Adam Sandler's films) and a couple of TV projects (Men Behaving Badly, Rob) have saved the San Francisco-born comedian from doing the pop-culture disappearing act that has plagued many former Saturday Night Live regulars.

"I think the generosity and friendship of Adam Sandler has had a lot to do with it," Schneider says, explaining that the camaraderie that he, Sandler, David Spade, Chris Rock and the late Chris Farley developed as the young-gun crew on the early-'90s version of the NBC show carried over into their post-SNL careers.

"Adam would literally lift us up. He would bring us along, because he wanted to be around his friends. I remember once when Spade and I got into some stupid argument and didn't talk for a while, Adam put us both into a movie so we would have to do it together.

"That's Adam Sandler -- even when he became a huge star, he just wanted to have his friends around, because that's what was the most fun for him."

Schneider adds that one such hanging-with-Sandler moment turned out to be a life-changing event for him.

"My career was kind of in the toilet a dozen or so years ago, and Adam said, 'Write your own movie,'" he recalls. "I said, 'I don't know how to do that,' and he said, 'Just write something.' So I tried it, and I got about 85 pages into the script, and I showed it to him on a plane when we were on our way to promote something, and he started laughing so hard. He said, 'Dude, you have to finish this.'

"As soon as the plane landed, I said I was going to fly back home to finish it. But he said, 'No, stay here for a couple of days so we can hang out and have some fun, and then go finish it. If you stay and hang out and have some laughs, I'll produce the movie.' ... So he produced Deuce Bigalow, and it made $350 million worldwide and changed my life."

Speaking of major life events, Schneider says he has drawn much comedic inspiration from the joy and insomniac stresses of becoming a father again at almost 50 (he has a grown daughter from an earlier marriage, but he and wife Patricia Azarcoya Arce welcomed daughter Miranda last November).

"It has helped me a lot, because it completely throws your life out the window," he says. "It's like, before baby/after baby, and you feel like it's impossible to get anything done... You're not sleeping regularly, and it makes you kind of crazy -- which is actually very good for standup.

"Personally, my life is pretty much upside down right now, but my writing is on fire. I think it's because of the new baby -- the left-brain, structural side of your body gets exhausted after a while, and the right side, the creative side, kind of takes over."

brad.oswald@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @BradOswald

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 28, 2013 c9

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