What the Hell Happened to Pauly Shore?

Pauly Shore

Pauly Shore was never a movie star, but for a short time in the nineties, he managed to headline a modestly budgeted comedy annually.  Although he had deep roots in the comedy club scene, Shore was more of a personality than a comedian.   He didn’t make observations or tell jokes per se, but Shore did manage to create a character that made him more famous than he had any right to be.  It won’t surprise anyone, except perhaps Pauly Shore, that he wasn’t able to coast on his slacker-bro image in definitely.  After several years of semi-stardom, Shore’s fans abandoned him and he was left wondering…

What the hell happened?

Pauly Shore was born into comedy.  His dad, Sammy Shore, was an old school comedian.  His mom, Mitzi Shore, founded the famous comedy club, The Comedy Store, where several well-known comedians honed their craft.  Shore’s parents divorced when he was six years old leaving Mitzi to raise him while she managed the club:

I’d wake up and go downstairs and my mom would be in a smoke-filled room with [Richard]Pryor and all those guys, and I’d be like ‘Mom, I guess you’re not making me my sack lunch.’ My parents never came to watch me in Little League, but I always had like five hung-over comics in the bleachers.

Shore’s dad set up his first stand-up gig for his son in 1985 at a small club in Culver City.  According to his father, Pauly was cocky the first time he went on-stage and it worked.  His beginner’s luck didn’t last.  After bombing several sets in a row, Shore learned some humility and called his dad for help.

While Shore was still in school, he worked as a short order cook in the Westwood Comedy Store where Sam Kinison worked as a doorman.  Kinison was homeless at the time.  He slept on the stage of the club at night.  But once he caught on, he became a mentor to Shore.

Sam said it’s about having your own color of the rainbow.  He said when people start imitating you, that’s when you have your own thing.

Pauly Shore – St. Elsewhere – 1988

While Shore was working on his stand-up act, he started appearing in guest spots on TV shows.  He made his acting debut in an episode of 21 Jump Street in 1987.  The following year, Shore played a punk on an episode of St. Elsewhere.  He also had a bit part in the George Burns comedy, 18 Again!  The money he made from appearing in TV shows like Married … With Children allowed Shore to move out on his own at the age of nineteen.  He continued honing his stand-up act until eventually his mom thought he was good enough to play at The Comedy Store.   “He grew so quickly.  I never saw anybody grow so quickly.”

Shore made his MTV debut during the cable network’s Spring Break coverage.  According to Shore, he didn’t get off to a promising start:

I wasn’t even allowed to hold the mike. I’m sitting there, nervous as shit. It’s live. I’m on MTV. Buster [Poindexter] asked me a simple question. He goes, ‘What’s the difference between beaches in Florida and California?’ And I said, ‘Everyone’s wasted.’ And Julie Brown freaked. She is like ‘What are you talking about, “everyone’s wasted”?’ And I’m like ‘Leave me alone, wubba wubba wubba,’ you know. So they didn’t use me for a while after that.

But Shore got a second chance with MTV based on a good set on the stand-up comedy TV show, Comic Strip Live.  The network wasn’t willing to put Shore on the air again, but they hired him to warm-up the audience for a comedy special.  According to MTV exec, Joel Gallen, Shore was the funniest comic in the room despite being the warm-up act.  That lead to talks of given Shore his own show.  But Gallen knew Shore’s brand of loose comedy wouldn’t work in a stuffy studio, so he came up with the idea of sending him out into the crowd’s to interact with MTV’s viewers.

Pauly Shore – Totally Pauly – 1989-1994


Totally Pauly debuted in June of 1990 as a temporary summer program.  The original concept was that every week Shore would get a new job and by the end of the week he would be fired.  But Shore wasn’t interested in the conceit.  He told the MTV camera men just to follow him around while he talked to young people.

By the end of the summer, Shore’s audience had grown.  When he opened for Sam Kinison’s concert, he says he was mobbed by girls.  A few months later, he was hosting a comedy show for MTV and the audience was shouting out his catch-phrases for him.

MTV may have been slow to warm to Shore’s shenanigans.  But they quickly realized they had a hit on their hands.  They started promoting Shore all over the network and sending him all over the country.

Pauly Shore – Encino Man – 1992

After a couple of years working the crowds on MTV, Shore was ready to take his act to the big screen.  The 1992 comedy Encino Man starred Brendan Fraser as a frozen caveman who is discovered by a couple of California slackers.  Naturally the teens, played by Sean Astin and Shore, thaw Fraser out and try to convince everybody that he is actually a foreign exchange student.

Despite the fact that Shore was merely a supporting player, Disney’s marketing  for Encino Man featured him heavily.  The studio was hopeful that Shore’s MTV audience would follow him into movie theaters and for the most part they were right.  The movie was filmed on a tight budget over just 33 days.  It managed to gross just over $40 million dollars during the competitive summer movie season.  Since the movie cost virtually nothing to make, its fourth place opening weekend was viewed as a considerable victory.

Critics didn’t like the movie, but no one cared.  Shore’s movie debut earned him a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst New Star, but I doubt the actor’s young fans even noticed.  What did bother Shore was the way he was treated on the set.  During an MTV special that taped during the making of the movie, Shore sat in his trailer and cried.  After throwing a few things around, he complained that people were being mean to him.

After the success of Encino Man, Shore started looking for opportunities away from basic cable.  He was especially interested in developing a show for the Fox network.  MTV vice-president wished Shore well, but prophetically declared that the actor needed the network more than the network needed him.  “Pauly can do all the outside things he wants, but if he doesn’t have MTV, he’s not gonna succeed.”

Pauly Shore – Son in Law – 1993

Believe it or not, studios were scrapping over who got to make the next Pauly Shore movie.  Shore had signed a contract with Disney which gave them an option to make his next to movies.  But the studio hadn’t been able to come up with any scripts that interested Shore.  He wanted to defect to New Line where he would have starred in a movie called Totally London in which he would have played a nanny to a bunch of British kids.  Disney offered to buy Totally London from New Line, but the studio declined.

But at the last minute, Disney decided to exercise their option to have Shore star in their fish-out-of-water comedy, Son in Law.   Carla Gugino played a small town girl who leaves the family farm to go to college.  She befriends Shore who helps her adapt to life on the West Coast.  When she brings Shore back to her hometown for the holidays, he tells her family that they are engaged much to the chagrin of Gugino’s father played by Lane Smith.

Son in Law cost a lot more to make than Encino Man, but it fell short of the $40 million dollar mark.  It opened in sixth place at the box office during a busy Fourth of July weekend and then kicked around for a few weeks before disappearing from theaters.  Son in Law wasn’t a hit, but it performed well enough to ensure Shore a chance at another movie.

Pauly Shore – In the Army Now – 1994

Shore finished the terms of his Disney contract with a Stripes rip-off, In the Army Now.  You know how the only thing that holds Stripes together if Bull Murray’s performance?  Well, imagine if Murray were replaced by Pauly Shore and Harold Ramis was replaced by Andy Dick.  That should give you some idea of what In the Army Now is like.

No surprise that critics didn’t like the movie.  They had yet to like anything Shore had done.  But by this point, even Shore’s fans seemed to be growing tired of his slacker routine.  In the Army now opened in sixth place at the box office during the late summer when most of the big movies had already been in theaters for weeks.  It ended up grossing just under $30 million dollars.  That’s not dismal, but In the Army Now definitely wasn’t a hit.  Whatever appeal Shore once had appeared to be waning.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Shore parted ways with MTV in 1994.

Pauly Shore – Jury Duty – 1995

With his Disney contract completed, Shore was free to make crappy comedies for other studios.  In 1995, he starred in TriStar Pictures’ courtroom comedy, Jury Duty.  The movie was a loose adaptation of Twelve Angry Men with Shore in the Henry Fonda role and Tia Carrere as his love interest.  The supporting cast included Stanley Tucci, Brian Doyle-Murray and Abe Vigoda.

Shore played an exotic dancer (I kid you not) who finds himself homeless when his parents decide to move out of their trailer park.  In order to obtain cheap lodging, Shore gets himself assigned to jury duty when he realizes that jurors are put up in a hotel.

Shore’s previous movies were summer releases, but Jury Duty opened in the spring instead.  That allowed the movie to open in fourth place at the box office just behind Disney’s Goofy Movie (in which Shore did some voice work).  Unfortunately, Jury Duty was unable to recoup its $20 million dollar budget.

Pauly Shore – Bio-Dome – 1996

By this point, Shore was no longer considered bankable on his own.  So he costarred opposite Stephen Baldwin in the dumb-guy buddy comedy, Bio-Dome.  Together they were the D-list Dumb and Dumber.  Their characters accidentally get locked in a closed ecological system while looking for a bathroom.

Bio-Dome was Baldwin’s follow-up to The Usual Suspects and it set the tone for the rest of his career confirming that he was more of a Billy than an Alec.  For Shore, this was his last strike.  Bio-Dome’s pathetic $13 million dollar gross made it clear that Shore could no longer lure kids into the multiplex.

Somehow, Bio-Dome has become one of Shore’s better-remembered movies.  Baldwin has gone so far as to talk up a sequel which seems unlikely to ever happen.

As Shore’s short movie career came to a close, he continued getting work in voice acting in direct-to-video sequels like Casper: A Spirited Beginning and An Extremely Goofy Movie.  In 1997, Shore finally got his wish to have his own show on the Fox Network.  The sitcom, titled Pauly, featured Shore as a slacker who tries repeatedly to get his rich dad to divorce his trophy wife.  It was cancelled after only five episodes had aired.

According to Shore, he took the cancellation of his sitcom to heart, “I was on the road one night by myself and I realized, ‘Well, the jig is up. Time to move on.’ … I couldn’t look at it like business; I took it very personally.”

Odds are, Shore has been off of your cultural radar since at least the late 90’s (that is assuming you ever took notice of him in the first place).  Since then, he has returned to The Comedy Store which is still owned by his mom.  He’s also produced several direct-to-video projects like the mockumentaries Pauly Shore is Dead and Adopted.  Most of his projects over the last couple of decades play on Shore’s status as a has-been.

So, what the hell happened?

Even at the height of his popularity, it was painfully obvious that Shore came stamped with an expiration date.  His act consisted largely of saying words in a funny way.  That will get you through grade school as the class clown, but you’re not likely to be able to build a movie career on it.  Shore’s success was linked to the popularity of MTV.  Once he left the network, his fans moved on to other things.

Shore’s fans were young and they saw him as their representative.  As they got older, they outgrew Shore’s slacker comedy.  And younger audiences had slackers of their own.  In 1995, just as Shore’s movie career was bottoming out, Adam Sandler starred in the comedy Billy Madison which kicked off a long run of slacker comedies making Sandler the box office star Shore would have liked to have been.

Maybe the question shouldn’t be why Shore’s career ultimately failed.  Perhaps a better question would be why he was ever famous in the first place.  Certainly nepotism helped.  But Shore’s connections didn’t make him a popular TV personality.  For that, it seems, Shore was just the right guy at the right time.  MTV was the only place Shore could have been a star.  And the early nineties were the only time at which that might have happened.  If Shore is upset about his lost fame, he should take solace in the fact that he was much more successful than he ever should have been.

What The Hell Happened Directory



Posted on February 27, 2018, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actor and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Nailed it. Shore was never an actor or even a particularly good stand-up comic. He was a personality who had his fifteen minutes and when those were up, that was it.

    He had his thunder stolen by Adam Sandler. But at least he tried.

    Of his movies, I saw and liked Encino Man not long after its release. Haven’t watched it since. I get the feeling that if I did, I’d like describe it as the one passable Shore movie. Saw bits of Son-In Law. Never tried to get through In the Army Now or Jury Duty.

    I did see Bio-Dome. But the main reason I did was because I was at Blockbuster on a Saturday night when the shelves were pretty much picked clean. Instead of just going home and putting on MTV (at 17-18, the thought of looking for a classic or anything outside of the new releases didn’t cross my mind). If I were to compile a list of the 5 worst comedies , it would have a spot on it. However, a while back I did come across a very long and passionate defense of it. So it does have its cult of followers.

    Thinking about it, I may have to take back what I said about Encino Man, because A Goofy Movie is one that still holds up. So that’s the Shore movie that holds up best over the years. And that;s because of how little Pauly it gives you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • A buddy of mine was a big Pauly Shore fan when Encino Man came out. He pretty much dragged me out to see it. It was watchable, but it was cut rate Bill and Ted. And Bill and Ted wasn’t great to begin with. I suffered through In the Army Now as a result of my movie theater manager duties. It was like going through boot camp. I have seen bits and pieces of Son in Law and Bio Dome. The common thread of all Pauly Shore movies is that the central concept is that he annoys the crap out of everyone around him. That’s not a strong foundation for a long movie career.


    • Adam Sandler was somehow able to evolve past his Billy Madison/Happy Gilmore shtick. Just like how Jim Carrey was able to evolve past his Ace Ventura character. I think also, somebody like Adam Sandler was not only a better actor than Pauly Shore, but surrounded himself with better people.

      Maybe Pauly Shore would’ve had a longer shelf-life if he could’ve evolved past his slacker-bro, “weasel” persona. At the end of the day, Pauly was too one-dimensional as a comedian. His style of comedy appealed more to teens (who were naturally, bound to outgrow him) instead of a wider audience

      In a way, Pauly was more in line with Rob Schneider. Both Shore and Schneider starred in movies that were basically novelty fluff and hit diminishing returns remarkably fast.


  2. The Rise and Fall of Pauly Shore

    BY JUSTIN GRAY JULY 31, 2013

    Creating a comedic character can be a tricky process. To a certain extent, every successful standup comic has a comedic persona. Listeners of the Todd Barry podcast may be surprised to find that instead of the glib, sarcastic comic they love will discover a warm and genial host. Likewise, comedians who have an open and friendly demeanor onstage can be complete dicks once the spotlight is turned off. Part of finding that “voice” as a performer is figuring out how best to present the thoughts and subjects one wants to talk about.

    However, there are times that persona or character can bite you on the ass. Steve Martin created one of the most indelible comedic characters in history, so much so that “his” popularity compelled Martin to retire as a standup at the very height of his success. Andrew “Dice” Clay has made attempts to recalibrate his persona to become more mainstream, while also remaining the vulgar wordsmith his loyal fan base has come to expect.

    Which brings us to Pauly Shore. The progeny of Mitzi Shore, owner of the legendary Comedy Store, and Sammy Shore, a comic from the old guard who opened for acts like Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley (also, can we take a moment to acknowledge how weird it was back in the day to have comics open up for musical acts?), Pauly Shore was born steeped in comedy history. One foot in the world of the explosive vanguard of the comedic experimentation that defined The Comedy Store in the 1970s and 1980s and one foot in the old school cabaret type comedy that defined the 1950s and 1960s.

    In many ways, Pauly Shore’s early act reflected this dichotomy of thought. His character was broad enough that he could fit in well with comics from his father’s generation of comedians, yet weird and fresh enough that he captured the attention of kids growing up in the 1990s.

    Mentored under none other than Sam Kinison, Shore created a character that was captured what it meant to be white privileged stoner in late 1980s Los Angeles. “The Weasel” faced life on his own terms, even speaking in nonsensical slang terms that mystified adults, but allowed kids to feel they were apart of something their parents just didn’t understand. It is no wonder that MTV snapped Shore up and for five years he hosted Totally Pauly, which found him doing man on the street interviews and introducing music videos.

    Hard to believe today, but 1990s kids ate this up. Shore was a silly, perpetually horny, and anti-authoritarian, but in a way that was non-threatening, kind of like an oversexed Archie comics character come to life. However, Shore became a breakout star on MTV and was soon catapulted into the film business, proving to be an unlikely film star in 1992’s Encino Man. To this day, hardly anyone in their mid thirties can walk by a slushie machine without the phrase “Weezing the juice” popping into their heads.

    After Encino Man, Pauly Shore was poised to be the big breakout comedy star of the 1990s. His MTV show continued to be a juggernaut and he starred in films continually throughout most of the 1990s, though to diminishing returns. 1993’s Son in Law was a well reviewed and proved that Shore could carry a film on his own, however his follow ups, In the Army Now, Jury Duty, and the notorious Bio-Dome eventually sunk his acting career.

    This is why a comedic character can become an albatross. As Shore crept into his thirties, audiences were less inclined to pay money to watch an irresponsible stoner who spoke in quasi surfer lingo do stupid things. In fact this audience who spent their adolescences watching Shore act like a fool while introducing Warrant videos were getting older themselves. They were in college now, listening to indie bands and reading Camus. Shore’s audience had grown up. The next generations of MTV viewers, brought up on grunge and gangsta rap, were left cold by “The Weasel”.

    Show business is a notoriously fickle beast. 18 years ago, Pauly Shore was one of the biggest names in comedy and today he is relegated to “where are they now?” status. However, Shore has shown that he has a sense of humor about his place in the show business hierarchy. In 2003, he released a low-budget film called, Pauly Shore is Dead. The plot of the film is simple enough; after being shut out of the movie business, Shore fakes his own death in order to gain back his popularity. Packed with cameos from celebrities like Sean Penn, Ellen Degeneres, and Tom Sizemore, Shore lampoons his image as well as addresses what it is like to go from Hollywood “it” boy to nobody.

    While the movie did little to rehabilitate Shore’s image, it proves that Shore is willing to take chances in his career and work on his own projects outside of the studio system. He similarly wrote and produced a mockumentary called Adopted in which he satirizes the celebrity adoptions of African children (although, it must be said that movie is not reviewed on Rotten Tomatoes).

    In 2012, he starred in a comedy special taking aim at the Presidential election, of all things, in the Showtime special, Pauly-tics. A mix of standup comedy and interviews with the likes of Michael Steele, Herman Cain, and Larry King, we see a different side of Pauly Shore. While he may not be an astute political commentator, Shore drops much of his “Weasel” act in favor of a Bro-centric look at the political world.

    Pauly Shore continues to be an appealing and likable performer, even when he doesn’t quite hit the mark. However, it’s admirable that Shore continues to explore and experiment as a comedian. He may never capture the zeitgeist the way he did in his youth, but he’s a great reminder to any young comedian that your career isn’t over when you stop getting calls, it’s over when you stop pushing yourself creatively. Whether you like what Pauly Shore does or not, it is hard to deny that he is constantly doing just that.


  3. Whatever Happened To… Pauly Shore?

    For people outside of the US, Pauly Shore is a name that people will either connect with immediately – usually Encino Man or Bio-Dome – or it becomes a vague recollection. Others might recall his time as MTV’s in-house comedian and VJ, with shows such as Totally Pauly.

    More recently, however, people will recall his stint as a reality TV contestant on shows such as Hell’s Kitchen or cameos in the likes of Entourage, Workaholics or Adam Sandler films such as Sandy Wexler and Bucky Larson: Born To Be A Star. Yet, for all these seemingly low-brow comedies, Shore was born into a highly-respected showbiz family. Shore’s mother, Mitzi Shore, was the owner of the famous Comedy Store in Los Angeles – the birthplace of such comedy acts like George Carlin, Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Garry Shandling, Jerry Seinfeld and Janeane Garofalo. Shore’s father, Sammy Shore, was an old-school cabaret comedian who opened for the likes of Frank Sinatra during his heyday.

    Shore began standup work at the age of 17, and was mentored by Comedy Store alumni Sam Kinison. Shore’s work centred on a comedic character called The Weasel, which would form the basis of most of his work. Drenched in Californian surfer-speak and loaded with catchphrases, Shore soon became a VJ for MTV at the age of 21. Whilst on MTV, Shore would further embed himself into popular culture with his comedy stylings – often involving him interviewing celebrity friends or college students and the like.

    Encino Man was Shore’s first widely-released film and, with a modest budget of $7,000,000, the film returned a healthy profit of $40 million at the US box office. Shore starred alongside Brendan Fraser as a hippy teenager who befriends Fraser’s awoken caveman. Like his work on MTV, the film was loaded with topical references to youth culture and Shore’s dialogue was loaded with catchphrases pulled from Totally Pauly, his hit show on MTV.

    Reviews were withering. Pete Travers ended his review of Encino Man with, “God help us all.” Time Out called it “depressingly witless”, whilst Hal Hinson of the Washington Post said it was “the kind of movie that gives evolution a bad name.” Yet, for all these poor reviews, Encino Man tapped into popular culture and became something of a cult film in the years after. 1994’s In The Army Now saw Shore paired with Andy Dick, in a film where they played unlikely soldiers who are sent to Africa as water-purification specialists. The film borrowed heavily from Ivan Reitman’s Stripes, but had none of its charms and the reviews bore this out. Box office returns diminished already with In The Army Now, going from $40 million with Encino Man and Son In Law with $36.4 million, to just $28.8 million with In The Army Now.

    For all the poor reviews and box office results, Shore seemed unfazed by any of it. In a 1992 interview with Rolling Stone, Shore explained his ethos. “If I let the people who hate me get to me, I’d sit at home and never do anything. Most people who can’t appreciate me are bitter and jealous people. What I’m doing has never been done before – going out and talking to the camera like it’s America.”

    By 1997, Shore had landed his own TV show on Fox. Pauly, however, lasted a total of five episodes before it was cancelled. Two episodes remained unaired. The show was universally trounced and effectively ended the comedic character that Shore had been working with successfully for eight years. After the monumental failure that was Pauly, he cropped up in a number of TV shows – often cameoing himself or in an animated role throughout the ’00s.

    Around 2003, Shore wrote and directed Pauly Shore Is Dead, a mockumentary in which the comedian faked his own death as a means of achieving popularity again and selling more merchandise and DVDs. The film remains, to date, his best-reviewed work with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 57%. The film starred Paris Hilton, Adam Sandler, Bill Maher, Charlie Sheen and Fred Durst.

    Although he doesn’t lead comedy films as he did in the ’90s, he’s returned to stand-up comedy and now regularly tours. He also hosts his own podcast show. In an interview with Variety in 2014, Shore mused on his own celebrity and his dealings with it.

    “I think it’s great that I made it and that people know who I am, but it’s also bad being just known for one thing. I think Robin Williams went through it as well. A lot of people come up with their own thing and then they try to get away from their own thing. You always want to be remembered for your last thing, not something you did a long time ago.”


  4. What went wrong with Pauly Shore’s movie career

    Aaron Pruner @aaronflux

    Roughly 25 years ago, Pauly Shore was on top of the world. Son of Mitzi Shore—the owner of Hollywood’s legendary Comedy Store—and stand-up comic Sammy Shore, who opened for the likes of Elvis Presley back in the day, Shore used his breakout gig as an MTV VJ as a launchpad into multimedia superstardom. In a few short years, Pauly Shore became a global sensation.

    It’s safe to say that, for the first half of the ’90s, Shore was everywhere. From big hits like Encino Man to his sold-out live stand-up shows to the number of comedy albums he put out, he was impossible to avoid. But something happened on the way to lasting stardom. Almost as quickly as he rose to fame, his celebrity status plummeted, and Shore went from big-screen superstar to C-List personality. What exactly happened? Let’s take a trip down memory lane to revisit Pauly Shore’s movie career and explore what went wrong along the way.

    Everybody loved the Weasel

    To say that Shore had an interesting upbringing would be an understatement. He was raised around stand-up comics. At the age of 17, he began to perform stand-up comedy himself. Mentored by the late, great Sam Kinison, Shore’s work mostly revolved around his stage persona, a character he’d named “The Weasel.” The privileged, slacker stoner persona spoke heavily in surfer-like dudespeak and reflected the late ’80s Los Angeles scene he grew up in. Needless to say, it didn’t take long before his act gained the attention of MTV.

    Shore’s professional TV career began in 1989. He started as a VJ with the network — back when the majority of their lineup consisted of music videos — and the popularity of “The Weasel” quickly took off. In 1990, the network gave Shore was was supposed to be a temporary summer show, titled Totally Pauly — but the audience response was so huge, MTV kept Shore on board as host for the next four years. Totally Pauly found Shore doing man-on-the-street interviews, hosting the network’s spring break parties, and creating his own comedy sketches.  Not only did the series build Shore’s celebrity status, it helped set up MTV for the ’90s while appealing to an untapped college demographic.

    When the series came to an end in 1994, Pauly Shore’s fame was at an all-time high. The success of films like Encino Man and Son in Law helped push his “Weasel” persona into the mainstream. The sky, as it seemed, was the limit.

    He became famous too quickly

    Pauly Shore’s Weasel persona grabbed hold of the mainstream quicker than anyone could have reasonably expected. Not only did the schtick help MTV bring in the viewers, Pauly’s alter ego shot him to the top of the box office. It’s a fine line to walk, though. All one has to do is look at Paul Reubens’ Pee-wee Herman or Andrew Dice Clay for some strong examples on how popular on-screen personas can pigeonhole an actor into a specific stereotype. “My public persona is already defined because my movies hit so hard and they’re so big,” Shore explained to Vice in 2014. “I was so popular in that style, so everybody thinks that’s who I am, and that’s who I was. And this is who I am now.”

    Needless to say, between his work on MTV and the number of projects he had in the pipeline, the general public were constantly given one perspective of Pauly Shore. Cultivating his Weasel character proved to be fruitful for Shore, his agents and managers, and the production companies he was working with. But unfortunately for Pauly, it was all a party … until it wasn’t. He was on top of the world in 1992 and just four years later, his movie career had all but dissolved. “I was so big,” he admitted when he appeared on The Joe Rogan Experience. “And I think the bigger you are, and the faster you make it, the harder you fall.” 

    Too much ‘wheezin’ the juice’

    When Encino Man hit theaters in 1992, it helped to not only solidify Shore’s celebrity status, it ushered in a new style of dudespeak into the culture, inspiring young men and women everywhere to incorporate some odd slacker, stoner lingo into everyday conversation. He had become too big for MTV. And Hollywood was calling … buuuuddy.

    “He was like Seth Rogen,” Whitney Cummings told The Los Angeles Times. “He was a movie star. He was just one of those guys who was so incredibly famous, like Jason Priestley from ‘90210.’ The Weasel was in the vernacular of our lexicon along with slap bracelets and beanie babies.”

    One of the problems was, though, the simple fact that he gave audiences too much Weasel, too quickly. After leaving MTV, he did In the Army Now, Jury Duty, and Biodome — a relatively rapid string of comedies, each of which found Shore playing a variation on that same familiar character. With each film, his box office equity dwindled until Hollywood stopped calling. “That’s the main thing in this business: Don’t become your character,” Pauly told The Los Angeles Times in 1994, when referencing the death of his porn star ex-girlfriend Shannon Wilsey, a.k.a. Savannah. “Grow up and learn. Life is your biggest teacher.”

    The tragic death of his ex-girlfriend put things into perspective

    At the height of his popularity, Pauly Shore was dealt an unexpected blow. His ex-girlfriend, Shannon Wilsey — better known as adult film star Savannah — committed suicide at the age of 23. The couple were romantically involved for nearly a year, having split up in late 1992, but remained friends. Just a year and a half later, Wilsey shot herself in the head after suffering multiple injuries to her face brought on by reckless driving that led her Corvette to crash into a tree.

    “She was the nicest, most beautiful girl I ever met,” Shore told The Los Angeles Times in 1994. “It was a very dramatic thing for me.” The tragedy happened at a turning point in Shore’s career. He spent nearly half a decade playing the Weasel — whose horny, womanizing, slacker antics had grown a bit tiresome for maturing audiences — and it seemed he was attempting to put this alter ego behind him.

    “Pauly’s appeal is evolving,” Daniel Petrie Jr, director of In the Army Now, told the Times.  “He is growing up, whether he likes it or not, and his audience is growing up with him.”

    A failed sitcom pushed him further from the spotlight

    When looking back on the short-lived Fox sitcom Pauly, it feels as if Hollywood was giving Pauly Shore one more chance to lead a comedy vehicle. The 1997 series followed Shore — who played the rich slacker character Pauly Sherman — as he continually tried to destroy the cringeworthy relationship between his well-to-do father, Edward (David Dukes), and his opportunistic fiancee, Dawn Delaney (Charlotte Ross).  

    The series formula here made it seem like Fox was attempting to mirror the success of Married with Children. It was brash, silly, and filled with raunchy humor. The story structure also felt as if it was trying to sponge some sensibilities off NBC’s smash hit, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which went off the air a year prior. But while the Fresh Prince character that Will Smith cultivated through his hip-hop career and small-screen work ended up maturing over the years, the character of Pauly Sherman just came off like the Weasel 2.0. 

    According to Shore’s co-star in the series, Charlotte Ross, the media was partly to blame for Shore’s downfall as a viable movie star. “All of the interviews that I did for that show, I spent the first 10 minutes defending Pauly,” she told TV Guide. “Thank God I really did like him. The press just ate the poor guy alive. I’ve never seen anything like that and I’d never wish that on my worst enemy.” 

    After only five episodes, FOX took Pauly off the air. 

    The voiceover world came calling

    Pauly Shore played the role of George in three episodes of the Howie Mandel-created animated series Bobby’s World. While the gig wasn’t steady, the work opened the door to a side career for the actor in animation. In between filming In the Army Now and Jury Duty, Shore voiced the role of Bobby Zimmeruski in 1995’s A Goofy Movie. In 2000, he reprised the role in the sequel, An Extremely Goofy Movie.

    Audiences may have gotten Weasel fatigue, but the cartoon world continued giving Pauly work and helped him flex a different type of acting chops. In 1997, he played the role of Snivel in Casper: A Spirited Beginning and returned as The Oracle in the Hilary Duff-led sequel, Casper Meets Wendy. He appeared as the voice of Deejay in an episode of King of the Hill and played Justin in 2004’s Father of the Pride, opposite John Goodman, Cheryl Hinds, and Orlando Jones. He was Cat in 2009’s Dr Doolittle: Million Dollar Mutts and, more recently, he played the role of Pat in the “Squirrels” episode of HBO’s quirky animated series, Animals. Pauly Shore may have disappeared from the public eye, but his signature voice has stayed the course.

    An attempted movie comeback

    By 2003, Shore had all but disappeared from the spotlight. Instead of taking Hollywood’s silent treatment as a sign to hang up his hat, he took matters into his own hands and released a low-budget mockumentary titled Pauly Shore is Dead in which he not only starred, he also directed. The plot for the film was pretty straightforward, following Shore as he fakes his own death to regain some semblance of popularity. The movie was chock full of celebs — Ellen DeGeneres, Eminem, Sean Penn, and Britney Spears, to name a few — suggesting Shore was ready for a comeback.

    Unfortunately, the critical reception for the film was decidedly mixed. The A.V. Club called the movie “a flailing, potty-mouthed exercise in Postmodernism For Dummies,” while CinemaBlend deemed it a “nearly great little nuance filled comedy that could have been a real breakthrough.”

    Panned or praised, Pauly Shore is Dead is an accomplishment on a different level. It was years before YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, iPhone movies, and Instagram selfies would change the media landscape. And yet, Shore’s move to release the movie on his own terms proved once again that artists don’t have to wait for Hollywood to come knocking — they can take control of their brand and make content as they see fit.

    He’s become a content creator

    After writing, directing, and starring in Pauly Shore is Dead, Shore began focusing more on self-made projects. In 2009, he released Adopted, another mockumentary, which found Shore traveling to Africa with the goal of adopting a child. 

    In 2010, Shore told The Daily Beast his motivation for the film wasn’t to parody celebrity adoptions or make Africa a punchline. “Do you want to focus on the dead birds in the Gulf or do you want to focus on the stuff that’s off-camera, where kids are playing and everyone’s having a good time?” he asked. “Once I got down there [to Africa], I got to see how beautiful it really was.”

    Since stepping behind the camera on these two films, Shore has continued his directing pursuits. In 2014, he directed the documentary Pauly Shore Stands Alone, which aired on Showtime. He’s created and hosted the podcasts Pauly Shore’s Interested, Pauly Shore’s Random Rants, and Pauly Shore’s Podcast Show, which can be viewed in video form on Sony’s Crackle streaming service. More recently, Shore appeared as Donald Trump’s senior policy adviser, Stephen Miller, in a comedy sketch on Funny or Die.

    A return to his stand-up roots

    In 2005, Shore starred in the TBS reality series Minding the Shore, which found the comedian attempting to revitalize the Comedy Store for the new millennium. The show only lasted one season, but it helped reconnect Shore with his deep roots in the world of stand-up comedy.

    In 2011, he released Pauly Shore’s Vegas Is My Oyster and followed that up with 2012’s Pauly-tics — which, as you can see from the title, is heavily inspired by political goings-on in America. One way that Shore has distanced himself from his Weasel persona is through this type of political humor. His 2012 special found Shore mingling with the likes of Barney Frank, former RNC chairman Michael Steele, Ralph Nader, and Larry King. The formula is certainly unexpected, but somehow, it works.

    Mitzi Shore’s legend has also experienced a bit of a resurgence in recent years. The Showtime series I’m Dying Up Here presents a loose account of what life was like at the Comedy Store in the ’70s, back when Pauly was just a kid. Pauly grew up around a bevy of comedy legends, so it was only a matter of time before he turned his attention back to the stage. Writer and stand-up star Whitney Cummings commented on this career move to The Los Angeles Times, saying, “‘Oh, you’re doing stand-up? That must mean you’ve failed as a movie star.’ It never occurs to people that you want to do stand-up as a living.”


  5. The main problems with Pauly Shore? First, his appeal in terms of reach was quite limited to an audience of teens and college kids. More imporantly, his brand of slacker-bro comedy was very specific to those times.
    Let me explain this as briefly as I can. When Shore debuted his show on MTV, that whole glammier side of hair metal was already being seen as lame, in light of Guns N’ Roses’ emergence. All of a sudden, garish make-up and spandex were being replaced by either unshaved or make-up free faces and leather or tight jeans; even bandanas were in again! Then came grunge and the transition was complete; slacker was definitely in! Shore, with his unkempt image and California surfer dude speak/lingo, certainly fit the times accordingly. But by the time the first half of the 90’s became the second, that whole slacker subculture was already bottoming out – I certainly blame Ethan Hawke’s character in Reality Bites! 😀 And as Shore would say, the jig was up.
    Sandler? I’d say he never really fit the slacker thing entirely. Billy Madison, despite some raunchiness, also had some kiddie appeal. And the scene where Billy starts high school, blasting out Styx in the car? Quite clever of Sandler, as he was nodding his hat to the late boomers. Besides which, it certainly didn’t hurt that Sandler came out of SNL,, which by then had a much wider appeal than MTV’s more narrowly targeted teens and college kids audience.
    Coming full circle, this article specifies that Sam Kinison was like a mentor to Shore. Now there’s someone whose own brand of comedy was also as time-stamped as they came! It should have been a sign of things to come for Shore.


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