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More Than Just Pee-wee

Paul Reubens’ Best Roles That Aren’t Pee-wee Herman

Paul Reubens 30 Rock

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Paul Reubens is by far best known for his iconic character, Pee-wee Herman. After nearly 40 years in the man-child’s white loafers, it’s easy to forget that he’s an accomplished actor in his own right, having gotten his start at the same famous Groundlings Theater as Phil Hartman and Jan Hooks.

In fact, he recently told Chris Hardwick on The Nerdist podcast that he considers himself part of a small club of performers, including Cassandra Peterson (Elvira) and Sarah Colley (Minnie Pearl), who have become famous as someone else. When you dig deeper, though, you quickly find the eclectic career of a character actor that’s been overshadowed by his own legendary spawn. Here’s a look at some of Paul Reuben’s most interesting roles beyond Mr. Herman.

11. The Blues Brothers, Waiter

In one of Paul’s earliest films, he plays a snooty waiter at Chez Paul Restaurant, who can barely contain his disdain for the obnoxious “Joliet Jake” Blues. From these meager beginnings, few would have guessed the legendary career to follow.


10. Mork & Mindy, Dick Nimitz

Childlike, impish, and with a spastic streak, Mork had a lot in common with Pee-wee Herman. Here Paul plays Dick Nimitz, and you can already see hints of his famous character, who was headlining sold-out stage shows when this episode was filmed.


9. Meatballs Part II, Albert/Hara Krishna

A cash grab sequel, this bizarre film boasted an eclectic cast, including a young John Larroquette and Empty Nest’s own Richard Mulligan. This would be the last movie Paul would appear in before Pee-wee’s Big Adventure would turn him into a superstar.


8. Star Tours, RX-24

Every child of ’80s who was lucky enough to make it to Disneyland will remember this legendary Star Wars ride. Paul Reubens provided the voice for the inept pilot droid, RX-24, who guided us through the adventure, and provided a lot of childhood memories.


7. Batman Returns, Penguin’s Father

Not only is Reubens amusing in his wordless cameo as the upper crust father of Danny DeVito’s Penguin, his scenes are also a mini-Pee-wee’s Big Adventure reunion — besides reteaming him with director Tim Burton, Diane Salinger (aka Simone) plays Penguin’s mother.


6. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Amilyn

Wanting to have fun with his troubled reputation, Paul is rumored to have designed the look of his character after his now iconic mug shot. While this movie would go on to become a much more popular television series, Paul’s performance is often praised as the highlight of the film.

Paul Reubens Buffy


5. Murphy Brown, Andrew J. Lansing III

Another step on the comeback trail, Paul popped up on this hit show as one of the few people Ms. Brown thought could handle the job as her secretary. He ended up appearing in six episodes, reestablishing himself in Hollywood in the process.

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Pinterest


4. Mystery Men, Spleen

Based on the Dark Horse comic, Mystery Men seems ahead of its time now, commenting on a superhero genre that had yet to take off in movies. Still, Paul made an impression as Spleen, a man cursed with the powers of extreme flatulence. Look, a guy’s gotta work.

Mystery Men Spleen


3. Blow, Derek Foreal

With Ted Demme’s Blow, Paul was officially back. Often considered the dawn of a new era in his career, this part would open up the doors for the more dramatic roles that followed.


2. 30 Rock, Gerhardt

As former childhood fans of Pee-wee grew up, and took the reigns of power in Hollywood, Paul started popping up in more and more parts. Between 30 Rock, Reno 911, Tom Goes to the Mayor, and Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job, the former and future Pee-wee Herman had a chance to play with a whole new generation of comedians.

30 Rock Paul Reubens


1. The Blacklist, Mr. Vargas

Most recently, Paul has settled into a comfortable niche as a character actor, playing a variety of eccentric characters. Here he plays a creepy operative who can’t stand the sight of blood.

Mr Vargas Blacklist

Watch Paul channel his inner Clarence Darrow in a clip from tonight’s Portlandia season finale below:

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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