Pauly Shore Interview: On ‘Encino Man’ 30th Anniversary

When this year ’ s Oscars telecast included a drawn-out 30th-anniversary tribute to White Men Can ’ t Jump ( one of many things thankfully overshadowed by The Slap ), it felt like classify of an arbitrary choice. It ’ s a fun movie, but… why that one ? It was never even nominated for an Oscar. Aren ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate there countless other movies the same historic period that are roughly as successful and as memorable ? Which got me to thinking : american samoa long as we were doing the movie equivalent of Let ’ s Remember Some Guys, what other movies from 30 years ago would be fun to remember ?
The answer I settled on about immediately was Encino Man. The film, starring Sean Astin as an unpopular high school kid ( sort of a proto-incel, when you watch it now ) who, along with his acquaintance Stoney ( Pauly Shore ) digs up a freeze caveman ( Brendan Fraser ) in his backyard, was released 30 years ago this week. Like most Pauly Shore films, it received largely negative reviews ( 15 % on RottenTomatoes ), largely unfairly so. Yet it remains one of those films about which people of my generation seem to have an encyclopedic recall, one of those undisputed cultural touchstones, like knowing all the words to the composition song from fresh Prince Of Bel-Air .
With the profit of hindsight, it ’ mho clear up that Encino Man lived at a wyrd link of pop culture, a sort of eighties hangover like much of pre-grunge early-90s artifacts ( White Men Can ’ thymine Jump, for case, plus Cross Colours, Kriss Kross, and Ugly Kid Joe ’ s “ Everything About You “ ). It combined omnipresent Mall Culture and the San Fernando Valley as center of civilization ( Karate Kid, Bill & Ted, Fast Times At Ridgemont High ) with Val-Speak and Surf Revival, using the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer plat template and sold on the military capability of having an MTV personality in it when MTV was still basically the be-all and end-all of young culture.

Encino Man was basically a comedy vehicle meant to capitalize on Pauly Shore ’ mho popularity as an MTV VJ ( his show, Totally Pauly, in many ways a harbinger to Beavis & Butthead, began airing in 1991 ). Its surprise success besides helped launch Brendan Fraser as an actor and paved the way for another handful of Pauly Shore comedies ( all of which, as you might ’ ve guessed, I have a piano position for ). Encino Man ‘ second conflict, between Astin ’ sulfur failed 80s-style preppy ( Ferris Bueller and Jake Ryan being successful examples ), who wants to use the caveman as a run to popularity, and Shore ’ s alty, androgynous, live-and-let-live stone ( the drug use only heavily implied, this being a movie rated PG ) feels about like a passing of the cultural truncheon. It symbolically closed the book on 80s preppies while anticipating the sixties revivalism of the mid-90s .
It ’ s besides imbued with that particular belated eighties phenomenon of imagining promenade polish broadly, and the San Fernando Valley in particular, as the pinnacle of western Civilization. This was normally delivered in a reasonably banteringly kind of direction, but what both Bill & Ted ( 1989 ) and Encino Man ( 1992 ), and even to some extent second To The Future were saying was, “ What would the pillars of human being think if they could see what had become of their stick out ? ” ( Genghis Khan beating up mannequins at a promenade sporting goods store in Bill & Ted ’ s being credibly the greatest gag of this stallion era ) .
Encino Man ‘ s achiever led to a handful more movies for Shore — Son In Law, In The Army now, Bio-Dome — but to some extent he couldn ’ t escape the misfortune of having gotten celebrated introducing hair metallic video in the die days of haircloth alloy, bill poster son for suddenly reviled trends. shore seemed to become the fall guy for all of anserine SoCal surf guy culture once the vibration switch came. obvious doubt, but one worth asking : did he actually deserve it ?
shore was the son of Sammy and Mitzi Shore — Sammy being the master founder of the LA Comedy Store, with Mitzi taking it over after their divorce. Surrounded by an integral drollery microclimate ( which still exists around The Store ) by virtue of birth, Pauly, as he says “ grew up on the Sunset Strip, ” starting in standup drollery when he was still in high school. He developed a character — “ The Weasel, ” basically, sort of Jeff Spicoli meets Jim Morrison, according to Shore himself. This character, developed when Shore was a adolescent, was such a bullseye for his pop-cultural milieu that he was basically a ace by the time he was 21. And unlike, say, Andrew Dice Clay, whose stage character was a misogynous arse, Pauly Shore ’ s alter-ego was basically a lovable stoner who liked chilling out, eating debris food, and chatting up girls while their meathead boyfriends were elsewhere acting sturdy .
That he seems so relatively pleasant and harmless, particularly by the standards of virtually everything else from the late 80s, probably makes it easier to look back fondly at Pauly Shore movies and Pauly Shore ’ second flower in general. There ’ s besides credibly some dishonor involved. Did we jointly decide to hate this guy merely because he was suddenly uncool ? Why did we punish Pauly Shore for giving us precisely what we wanted ?
These days, Shore, an admirably youthful 54, is still an matter to character, though he clearly doesn ’ thymine do introspection arsenic well ( or possibly good as eagerly ) as we in the think-piece writing industry might like. Halfway through some of my questions I ’ five hundred recognize I was doing the equivalent of asking a professional athlete to write me a poem about one of their plays. Silly. You don ’ t need to know the tides to ride a wave .
even if Shore isn ’ t a naturally cerebral guy, he is distillery curious and thoughtful, uniquely vulnerable/lovable, as apt to say something that sounds eerily insightful as he is to say something that sounds charmingly primitive or harebrained. It ’ south sometimes hard to tell when he ’ s mess with you or equitable being naturally eccentric. Which was credibly always separate of his solicitation, that ability to keep us on our toes. It fits well with his current status, stuck between inspiring envy for his massive success and sympathy for having been unfairly maligned and spit out by the cultural machine that created him. He remains this blend of relatable and absolutely exotic .

Hey, how’s it going?
good. Rock and peal, bro. Wow, you ’ re even crustier than me, dandy, look at your seam. That ’ sulfur amusing. I like Zooms, because you can find out who the fuck people very are, you know ?
Yeah, I tried to wear a collar, even though I know it doesn’t help or mean anything, but I guess I thought it might give me like a vague air of professionalism.
That ’ randomness cool. All right, let ’ s knock this out .
So 30 years since Encino Man, have you done any other 30th anniversary interviews or promotions for it?
Every second gear of my life this wholly workweek, that ’ s all people have been talking about. I mean, I even got a call from Johnny Depp, he says, “ Look, I know I ’ m on trial for all this denounce, but fellow, you got to make sure everyone knows that Encino Man is 30 years old. ” No. No, I don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate know. All my movies, not good Encino Man, there ’ s a soft smudge for me. I enjoyed all of them, and I ’ molarity glad that people besides enjoy them, based off of what it ’ s like when I walk down the street, or I ’ molarity at the airport or I ’ m on stage. People love Encino Man. I guess you could call it, what is it, life is not a sprint, it ’ s a marathon, good ?
Yeah. And a box of chocolates.
The what ?
And a box of chocolates.
And some chocolates .

So Encino Man was basically your Totally Pauly character/persona, as adapted into a movie character, right?
It fair kind of turned out that way. I was hot on MTV at the time. Disney was making the movie. It wasn ’ metric ton written the way it was written at the time. Peter Paterno, who ran Hollywood Records, mentioned me to Jeffrey Katzenberg. They sat and watched Totally Pauly. They brought me in, I got offered the character, and they told me to help rewrite one of the roles in the film that was previously written to my style. so, primitively, I don ’ triiodothyronine remember what the character ’ south appoint was, but it wasn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate Stoney, that ’ s for certain. indeed I think I interwove my Totally Pauly persona into this character, and made him, I don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate know, more real. And there was some drama in the film, obviously, with the third act, where Sean ’ sulfur character is trying to get rid of the caveman and there ’ s this dear scene on the road. And so yea, I think it was wholly Pauly with heart, possibly, yeah .
So this was like a persona that you’d created for standup and MTV. How much of you was in that? How much of it was like a separate personality that you’d sort of created for comedy?
69 % .
I don ’ thyroxine know. It ’ randomness kind of a film over production line. I grew up on the Sunset Strip. I grew up wearing my ma ’ mho clothes. I grew up loving Steven Tyler. And I grew up at the Store, and I grew up rock n roll and that ’ s kind of who I was. therefore I decidedly wasn ’ t Paul Reubens with Pee-wee Herman, where Paul Reubens is this ridicule and then Pee-wee Herman is completely different, it was identical much who I am. I ’ m uneducated. I never went to educate. I didn ’ thymine go to college. My college was MTV. I knew as a young child I wanted to get into standup. I love making people joke. So I grabbed the mic at 17 years old, and barely started knocking out standup, and trying to figure it out. And then five years late, I mean, it took me, ’ 85, ’ 86 is when I started standup. And then I hit on MTV, what, four or five years subsequently. So it was about a five-year development thing, and then once MTV hit that clock was right on. I kind of developed it while I was on camera .
So when this was going on, the phenomenon of Val-speak and the Valley Girl, and just the San Fernando Valley as a cultural center was sort of happening. Do you think that sort of influenced the persona?
I mean, you can say I ’ m a fiddling bite Valley Girl, little bit Jeff Spicoli, little bite Bill & Ted ’ sulfur, little bite Jim Morrison. I don ’ thyroxine know. I mean, we all are influenced by people around us, so I was just a sponge. But I ’ m authentically Sunset Strip, I ’ ve been there since I was born. That was what I saw. I was watching a Dave Grohl special recently where he talks about, I don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate want to say “ steal, ” but that barrel beat from Teen Spirit with the disco beat, but that ’ s what he pretty much said. As a child, we ’ re, we ’ re all sponges. I ’ m a short piece Sam Kinison. I ’ m a little bite Steven Tyler, and then besides myself, then I don ’ thymine know .
The movie is set in the Valley and it’s basically like, what if a caveman came back to life and became a mall kid of the late ’80s or whatever. What was it about mall culture that it seemed like every comedy in that era was about that and the San Fernando Valley?
well, let me answer the beginning question. so to me, Encino Man was very much like the movie ET, where ET is this kind of foreigner, and then there are these real characters around him, but the estrange had heart. And indeed we didn ’ thymine treat the caveman like it was the caveman, he became our friend. So that ’ s the first thing that I thought actually made common sense, and why I think one of the elements of why the movie to this sidereal day, people very like. Because there ’ s something to be said about treating everyone peer, particularly in this time and age, with the race stuff and all that material .
And then adenine far as the promenade stuff, I mean, Mall Rats, promenade this, plaza that, Fast Times, and that was kind of our Amazon in those days. In the ’ 80s and ’ 90s, everyone fair went to the plaza. nowadays, I live in Vegas, but I go to LA a set, and you look at the Beverly Center in LA, and it ’ s just this big eyesore. It doesn ’ t make sense to even go in there anymore, but back when I was growing up, the Beverly Center was amazing. Like, “ Yo, let ’ s meet at the Beverly Center. ” You know what I mean ? There ’ s the food court and there ’ s the shopping, but no matchless shops at stores anymore, they holy order shit. So it ’ mho just, that ’ s what it was .
I mean, that was like a thing that people did, but I also feel like movies around that time, like this one and Bill & Ted, and some other movies of the time, it feels like part of the joke is treating mall culture as the pinnacle of Western civilization. Like, “it’s all been leading up to this!” I feel like that is not a thing in comedy now. What was it about that era that made people like to look at themselves as like, “we are standing at the high point of civilization?”
well, it ’ s kind of like TikTok now. All the kids are on TikTok. So back in the ’ 80s and ’ 90s, all the cool kids went to the plaza. There ’ mho no substantial answer to it. It ’ randomness fair the way it was back then .
Do you feel like you had that experience at all? Or was growing up on the Strip a different thing?

No, I ’ ve been going to malls my solid life. I mean, back when I was a child. I mean, I even did a movie called Phantom of the Mall, where we were in the promenade. It was just, I don ’ t know, it ’ mho where all the kids went. And at the fourth dimension, the kids, as you know, they run the populace .
This movie did a lot for you, though I mean, you were already sort of hot off MTV, but it seemed like it made Brendan Fraser’s career, to a certain extent. What did you think of him at the time?
well, the best comedy comes from comedians playing off of very good actors. Brendan Fraser is a actually good actor. And when he played the caveman, he became the caveman. It wasn ’ triiodothyronine like he was playing a caricature of it. You actually felt like he was that guy. So that was one of the, I guess, ace parts of Brendan, was the way he played that function. And it made my drollery well, because he was so serious and real, and that ’ s what I adored about him .
He gets some nice slapstick moments. I know he’s the straight man–
Yeah, but that ’ s after he ’ south locked into the character. After he ’ randomness locked into like looking about and smelling and being kind of animalistic. And then once he starts to get more comfortable, then, yeah, he becomes a fiddling cockamamie .
What do you remember from the set? What was shooting the movie like?
Sean Astin and I were very different. He came from kind of a different universe of acting than I did. And, again, I think that lent itself to us popping off of each other. So it wasn ’ t like Bill & Ted ’ sulfur where it ’ s like those two characters are precisely the same. So I truly liked that, that he was kind of very vanilla, and identical kind of rated G and identical kind of conservative. And I liked the fact that I wasn ’ triiodothyronine. I think, again, comedically that worked. And I thought that ’ s depart of Jeffrey Katzenberg ’ second, genius who ran the studio apartment at the time, making certain that he cast the right people around me. Because I was the first gear cast in the movie. They actually wanted me to play the caveman .
So we meet and I say, “ I ’ m not playing the caveman. ” I go, “ Cavemans don ’ metric ton address. I have a language. I have a dash. I have a persona. ” And then from there [ Jeffrey Katzenberg ] says, “ What do you want to do ? ” I said, “ I want to rewrite the best acquaintance with the writer and make me the best supporter, the third lead in it. ” He says, “ Go for it. ”
thus I worked with the writers, Shawn Schepps and George Zaloom and the director, and I basically changed the best acquaintance role that was originally written, which was kind of like two versions of Sean Astin, you know what I mean ? Those type of guys .

Do you feel like you became a victim of the popularity of the persona that you’d created towards the later ’90s or early 2000s?
I mean, I don ’ thyroxine think, it ’ sulfur true. It ’ sulfur difficult to sustain that. I was doing albums. I was doing HBO specials. I was doing MTV. I was starring in movies. I was touring. Shit ’ s going to come crashing down, and I had a good footrace. And fortunately for me, I was able to realize that it was a run and I saved my money, and I stepped away and did other things. And here we are 30 years belated talking about a movie that possibly at the time, critics and people didn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate appreciate. But as time goes on, everyone has realized, pretty much all the movies I did were successful, and have made a bunch of money for the studios, based off of them licensing it. I know Son in Law is the number one rated film on CMT all the time .
All of them are movies that I think people of my generation watched over and over, to the point where they’re kind of just part of our cultural vernacular or whatever. But going back to creating that persona, I was reading an article where someone was interviewing you, I think it was like ’91 or ’92, you were 21 years old. And they were doing the thing that they did in almost every article, where they have definitions of the slang that you’ve created for your show. They were asking you the same question that I was asking you, which was like, how much of this persona is you? And how much of it is a stage persona?
And you said something like, “This way that I’m talking is going to go away and I’m still going to be around.” It felt like you were basically predicting that you were going to get trapped in that persona, to a certain extent, which seemed crazy for someone who was like 21 at the time. But it felt like you kind of knew what you were doing. That you were sort of creating this persona, but that you knew you were going to outlive the persona.
[ quote : from The Boston Globe, June 17th, 1991 : “ ” I know I ’ meter gon na be around for a long prison term, and I don ’ thyroxine think that quality or that thing will be. It ’ sulfur been done. Of path, I say ‘ dandy ’ once in a while. I never say ‘ amazing ’ or ‘ free radical ’ though. ” ]
It ’ s interesting, because in our commercial enterprise, and I ’ ve said this a thousand times in a thousand interviews, and I ’ ll say it again, because I believe it : we work so hard to create our own kind of emboss and our own imprint and style. And then we work thus hard to get away from that imprint and style. It ’ s like a double-edged sword. So like they said, clock heals all wounds. Does that make sense ?
I ’ ve been gone for a while, and people, I feel, are rooting for me, because they know I never did anything harmful. I just did my dissemble and my movies. And then people scratch their head, and go, “ Wait, these things were awesome. ” And they ’ re like, “ Fuck, where ’ s Pauly Shore ? ” And then I go out on tour and I sell shows out, because people miss me and they love me. And they remember those times. And when I ’ thousand in my autograph line, after my shows, people cry, more than once, “ Because of you, I was able to say adieu to my forefather, because we used to watch Son in Law all the time. It was our movie. ” “ Because of you, I have a tattoo all over my leg. ” “ Because of the wheezing the juice, I got a district attorney, district attorney da. ” “ Because of the leaning tugboat of cheeza… ”
I mean, it fair goes down the occupation. And I pat myself on the back, I was obviously very medium when I came crashing down, and I was very hurt by what people were saying, but like I said, time heals all wounds, and I pat myself on the back a bunch now and I say, “ Hey, you did all right. ”
When you say like, “Things hurt,” you mean like The Razzies and things like that? [four wins, five nominations]
I don ’ t know. You want to be liked, let ’ s be honest. I didn ’ t caution so much about the critics until I stopped getting offered big films. And when that started happening, then I started believing it more. And that ’ s when I did Pauly Shore is Dead, which, to me, is my best film. I don ’ t know if you ever saw that, but it took me five years to make it, and it was amazing. not only do I think it was one of the funniest films I did, it was besides one of the darkest films I did. And it was before Curb Your Enthusiasm, it was before Being John Malkovich, it was before this movie that Nicholas Cage just came out with where he plays himself. I did it first. We shot it on HD. The only people that were shooting HD at the time was me and George Lucas. so if you research that, I shot that in 2000, and I was able to make playfulness of the fact that my career was fucked. And to me, Pauly Shore is Dead is the beginning of the second separate of my career. so nowadays when people talk shit about me, which believe it or not international relations and security network ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate that often, thank God, I see a distribute of sexual love .
It seems like there’s enough distance now to understand that you sort of created that persona. And it was a smart persona that worked and was funny. But it seems like there’s a process of pop culture, where it’s like, we want to binge on something so much that we get nauseous on it. And then we blame the thing for it. It seemed like people were like, “Oh, we want the weasel. Give us more of that.” And they binged on it to the point that they got mad at it.
It got old ! It got previous. so yea .
But they couldn’t separate the fact that you created that from the fact that a persona is like any joke that was funny at the time.
And then, besides, when stuff slowed down for me and I stopped getting the offers, and then Hollywood was kind of distancing themself from me, I had two choices to make. I could have patted myself on the back, and been like, “ Wow, man, you had an amazing run. Chill out for a copulate of years. Go away. ” That ’ s what would ’ ve been the right thing to do. But the wrong thing to do, which is what I did, which was stick to my heart, was I fired everyone. I wasn ’ metric ton blaming them for my career, I fired everyone because I wanted to just be alone. I wanted to be entirely, and I wanted to start relating to people more. I was 30 when denounce started slowing down, and I wanted to connect with America. So that ’ s when I hit the road, and my standup to me got better and more real and it was more relatable because I was the guy that got spit out. Everyone has gotten spit out before. So immediately I related. I did an album called Hollywood, We ’ ve Got a Problem, which did in truth good for me. And I truly learned how to make asshole from rub, based off of the fact that I fired everyone .
now, the other option would ’ ve been, preceptor ’ triiodothyronine fire everyone, chill the fuck out, relax, go to Bali, go surfing, and good chill and let the lineage stay down, and finally the stock will go up, and then, I ’ ll be like Howie Mendel or some shit, where I start hosting game shows, and district attorney, district attorney, district attorney, district attorney, district attorney. But my heart got in the way of my heed. I should have listened to my take care, but I didn ’ triiodothyronine. But in return, looking back, I think I did make the right choice, because I put myself, by myself, out in the worldly concern. I learned how to figure shit out. I started producing and directing and writing and starring in respective projects, which made me a in truth good film director, and a in truth good writer and all that stool. And I possibly feel that, if I didn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate spit myself out with no representation, I don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate know if I would ’ ve ever learned all that stool. And now the internet came, I can make anything. I belong on a movie set. That ’ s where my family is, helping people make movies .
Do you think you’re more at home there than doing standup? I mean, you’ve had a pretty consistent career in comedy for a long time.
I like doing movies better, because it ’ south arduous, and it ’ s a bigger wages. I love acting with other actors on camera. I love playing off them. I love that back and forth. It ’ sulfur kind of like a tennis player, he loves to equitable compete, you know ? Or a UFC champion, loving to scrap with this buddy in the gymnasium, I love acting with well actors. It ’ south my number one thing .
Do you miss the days when MTV was this sort of cultural juggernaut that influenced all of youth culture?
I miss the days of previous Hollywood. Meaning, the chasteness of it. immediately it ’ s pretty much white noise. Everyone has got a podcast. Everyone has got a this. Everyone… You know what I mean ? There ’ s besides many channels. sol I stay in my lane, I create my own farce, and I ’ meter glad I got in when I got in. And I ’ thousand glad I ’ m not trying to make it now, in this fucking day and age. But the top to these days is that anyone can do it, and I think that ’ s amazing. I can come up with an idea today and I don ’ t have to pitch it to my agent and my director and get fund and go to a studio and develop it for six months to a year. I can develop it and put it online right field now. Will the selling be as big ? absolutely not. But will I get out what I wanted to get out ? probably yes .
Do you have any projects that you’re working on that you’re excited about?

well, they keep circling with Bio-Dome 2 and Encino Man 2, so we ’ rhenium talking about that. If you go on my web site, there ’ s a discussion and a film that I wrote with a ally called Stuck in the Hood, which is basically, I ’ d say, like Son in Law meets Fridays. You know ? And it ’ s me with a whole bunch of black actors, and it ’ s a fish out of water, and my character saves the hood. And at the end I bring the blacks and the whites together. And it ’ second, obviously, a timely assemble, because of what ’ s going on in the earth of the race. But I think I ’ m the entirely kind of white comedic actor that could pull this away. So I ’ m reaching out to all my black comedian friends, and I ’ megabyte trying to get this thing produced and financed. I think it ’ s a in truth amusing idea. And you could tell your fans and the people that are listening to this to go to my web site, and read it, it good called Stuck in the Hood .
early than that, I ’ ve been working on my one-man show, which is called Stick With The dancing : Stories in My Childhood. It ’ south kind of my version of Mike Tyson ’ sulfur Undisputed Truth, where it ’ second all my stories of my childhood leading up to the guy before I made it to MTV. So it ’ s all the denounce around the Store and all that stuff. So I ’ ve been doing that. Oh and don ’ triiodothyronine forget at my band, the Crustys. indeed I have a band, if you go to YouTube and you see my band, it ’ s me and these old guys, it ’ sulfur amazing .
Vince Mancini is on Twitter. More reviews here .

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