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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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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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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.