Rob Schneider is perhaps best known as one of the cast members of the so-called golden age in “Saturday Night Live” history. Along with other breakout comedians like Adam Sandler, Mike Myers, Kevin Nealon, Norm MacDonald, and David Spade, Schneider served up the laughs on late-night TV from 1990 to 1994.
From there, the comedian became one of the more bankable lead actors in Hollywood. He headlined such hits as “The Animal” and “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo.” The latter became one of his most famous roles and even inspired a follow-up film — though don’t expect a third go-round as the struggling gigolo for Schneider.
“I think at 50, it would be a little gross at this point,” Schneider told LifeZette in an exclusive interview by phone. “I told myself at 45, I said, ‘I’m not taking my shirt off anymore.’ I didn’t want to do that to my children.”
For any fans disappointed by that news, there’s plenty of other Rob Schneider projects to go around. He now headlines the Netflix series “Real Rob,” in which he plays a version of himself alongside his real-life wife, Patricia Schneider. The show has two seasons available on Netflix — and Schneider is currently writing a third.
The comedian revealed that he didn’t know he wanted to do such a personal show until after his first attempt at jumping into scripted television. In 2012, he headlined “Rob,” which aired on CBS for only eight episodes. Despite strong ratings, the show was canceled quickly. The program is almost the polar opposite of “Real Rob.” Despite some similar themes, it is a tad more formulaic and far less dramatic, and it’s even peppered with a laugh track.
“Sometimes in life, to find out what you want, you have to find out what you don’t want,” said Schneider.
The notion of a comedian starring as a version of himself in a television show is far from uncommon today. Andrew Dice Clay and Marc Maron do it. Louis C.K. also did it before — well, before everything happened with him. His show was probably the most praised by critics of these specific programs.
“The idea that he [Louis C.K.] created that form, for critics, is just so hilarious,” said Schneider. “They had a show called ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show,’ they had ‘The Jackie Gleason Show,’ ‘The Bob Newhart Show’ in the ’70s — so this is an old idea.”
Schneider calls his show “creatively freeing,” though he did admit that doing a series in which he uses his personal life in Los Angeles as a springboard for material can force him to be unnaturally self-reflective at times.
“I don’t know how much longer I’ll do it because I don’t know how much I want to keep revealing,” he said, adding, “There’s a lot of therapy in this third season, but it’s hilarious.”
Besides keeping busy writing and acting in his show, Schneider is also still taking to the stage as a stand-up comedian all these years later. He is currently performing a tour that includes stops in London, Birmingham, Chester and Leeds, which ends on the night of March 18.
Having done stand-up comedy for decades now, Schneider calls the experience on the stage these days more of a “frontal assault.”
He revealed that the way he performed onstage changed after he saw Dave Chappelle live.
“People were looking at him like he was some sort of religious leader,” said Schneider of his fellow comedian. “That’s when I made a shift in my stand-up.”
He said he realized then that people were most looking for comedians to be honest in a way that the news and social media interactions simply can’t be today.
“You have an audience that is so bombarded with the most unobjective, agenda-based media on all sides,” said Schneider.
“You have an audience that is so bombarded with the most unobjective, agenda-based media on all sides.”
The comedian said people become comfortable and entrenched in their thinking today by building echo chambers of information on the internet. “I’m not as interested in that,” he said. “I’m interested in the people who are dipping their toes on each side.”
“Dipping one’s toes on both sides” is a concept the comedian knows well. He’s earned plenty of blowback online for his political stances, which are firmly in the middle most times. He refuses to toe the accepted political line in Hollywood, despite any potential consequences.
“If you’re not 1,000 percent against Trump, then you are a violent Trump supporter,” Schneider said of today’s political intolerance — which he mostly sees coming from the Left. It’s a real concern for comedians like him, as speech is policed more and more by social media mobs.
“It’s coming from a place of strange self-righteousness,” said Schneider. “They’re very open and liberal — as long as you agree with them.”
He added, “It’s intolerance in the guise of tolerance.”
The comedian sees it as pure fascism.
“Fascism is coming from the Left,” he said. “I said in 2013, ‘Fascism is coming to America,’ and I wasn’t kidding. It’s happening.”
Not every artist is willing to speak so openly, but he says his audience demands that sort of unadulterated honesty from him.
“I get a ton of s*** from it, but I don’t care. I’m not doing an Oscar campaign,” he said. “People are coming to see me for a specific thing. As soon as I chickens*** out, then it’s not interesting anymore.”
The comedian has certainly come a long way from his “Saturday Night Live” days. When LifeZette asked him whether he keeps up with the show — which mostly makes headlines for its political humor these days — Schneider had a few more honest things to say.
The comedian said he’s had friends tell him Alec Baldwin’s famous Trump impression is simply not funny — and Schneider agrees for one specific reason.
“It’s not that he’s [Baldwin] not a talented performer,” said Schneider. “I would say he was the most talented host when I was there.”
He continued, “If you read his Twitter feed, if you know how he feels politically — the joke’s given away. There’s no surprise.”