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December 22, 1989 - Image 90

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-12-22

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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2

FRID IY DECE

Bachelor Paul Reiser Parents
On Television's 'My llivo Dads'

p

aul Reiser is a stand-
up guy. "Always have
been," says the com-
ical cut-up who stars in the
NBC Sunday night sitcom,
"My Two Dads."
"I always enjoyed doing
stand-up comedy. When I
was in 5th and 6th grades,"
Reiser recalls, "I used to get
these creative writing
assignments and run home
to do them. Then the next
day, I'd volunteer to read
them in front of the class.
Yeah, that was my first per-
formance, and I still enjoy
doing - stand-up, playing to
those three people in the
back of the room."
The room is much more
crowded these days. "My
Two Dads," a series about a
young girl and the two
fathers who love her, is at-
tracting audiences in the
millions. But then Reiser's
performances have always
attracted attention at corn-
edy clubs around the coun-
try, on television talk shows,
even in film.
Indeed, Reiser, star of the
hit film Aliens,is no stranger
to success. Not even when he
was a teen titan of rock,
teaming up with other musi-
cians in a group called the
Upper Deck, all decked out
in rock regalia for gigs in
Reiser's native New York.
"We played all the Purim
carnivals," says Reiser,
whose early audiences
rooted for his roots-inspired
rock. "The first thing I ever
wrote was for a school play
in Hebrew school," recalls
Reiser. "I tried to make
those shows hip."
The results: Reiser's rendi-
tion of Ringo riffing on
religion. "There was one
show I did called 'The
Beatles Meet Purim,"'says
Reiser. "We had Esther sing
`I Want to Hold Your
Tallit."'
Music always held sway
with Reiser, who tuned up
for a career in composition in
college, studying at the
State University of New
York at Binghamton. "I en-
joyed composing,"he says. "I
did well in college."
Comedy clubs provided a
different kind of education
for Reiser, who took to the
stage in Greenwich Village
while still in school. There
was something stimulating
about the staccato sound of
applause that Reiser recog-
nized as a music all its own.
The music major made a
major break from family

Paul Reiser with his television daughter.

soon after school to pursue
his muse. "I first went into
my father's (wholesale
health food) business,"
handling the Oklahoma
sales region, recalls Reiser.
But health food didn't nur-
ture his need to perform. "I
was out there for a month in
Tulsa; it was the first time in
my life that I was really
alone," he says.
He needed comedy for
company. "I remember call-
ing up this club in New York
and hearing the laughs in
the background."
It was music to his ears;
Reiser told his parents that
he was leaving the health-
food business. "It was an
emotional scene, 'but my
parents were suppor-
tive,"says Reiser.
But how would their son
support himself? "They can
wish you well," he says of
his folks, "but they need
that pUblic affirmation to
know you're successful."
Reiser found that affirma-
tion in the hands of others —
the applause meter
registered Reiser as a
success story during his first
appearance on the Johnny
Carson show.
Suddenly, Reiser says with
a smile, his businessman
dad could point with pride to
the progeny busy making a
name for himself on TV:
"Look, he's on Carson."
Reiser was — and con-
tinues to be — on a roll.

Since graduation from col-
lege, he has graduated to
film roles, debuting in Diner
(1982) as Modell the mooch,
and then appearing in Bever-
ly Hills Cop (1984) and its
1987 sequel, as well as
Aliens (1986), as well as club
dates. Reiser will appear in
the upcoming movie Crazy
People, with Dudley Moore.
"We're talking to Dudley
about him doing our show,"
Reiser says of "My Two
Dads."
Certainly that would be a
coup — Moore has never ap-
peared on a TV sitcom
before.
"Dads" has survived
despite its apparent status
as a network stepchild.
"We've been moved around"
(the time and day slots), says
Reiser. Finding a home on
Sunday night is a homecom-
ing for the show, which
started series life on that
night in 1987. But home is
where the heart is, and
homelife is certainly at the
heart of this sitcom about
two desperate dads raising a
daughter.
If the series' premise
seems farfetched, focusing as
it does on two former friends
whose intimacy with the
same woman produced a
daughter whose paternity
the woman, since deceased,
never revealed, Reiser
doesn't seem to mind.
"Most shows have absurd

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