Considering his movie roles (“Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo,” anyone?), you might not expect Rob Schneider to talk intelligently about politics. But he can. (Don’t get him started on defense spending.)
Schneider, 46, started out as a stand-up comic but was quickly snatched up by “Saturday Night Live’s” Lorne Michaels, who hired him as a writer before putting him on TV. Depending on your age or your affinity for Adam Sandler movies, seeing Schneider’s mug probably evokes either his “Steve, the Stevester, making copies” skits on “SNL” in the early ‘90s or his famous utterance “You can do it!” from Sandler’s “The Waterboy.”
Schneider will soon be seen in “Grown Ups,” kind of a comedy version of “The Big Chill,” about a group of guys 30 years out from junior high. It stars fellow “SNL” alums Sandler, Chris Rock and David Spade (as well as Kevin James).
The set of “Grown Ups” was where Schneider hatched plans — 17 years after the last time he did stand-up — for his current tour. Another former “SNL”-er opens: Jeff Richards, best known for his “Drunk Girl” character.
We talked to Schneider from Los Angeles.
Q. When I was Googling you, some phrases came up. One was “rob schneider is a stapler.” Do you know what that’s about?
A. Yeah.(Laughs.) That was a parody of my movies on “South Park.” “Rob Schneider is ‘The Animal’!” “Rob Schneider is a woman!” “Rob Schneider is a gigolo!” “Rob Schneider is a stapler!” My friends who write for “The Simpsons” thought they were too nice to me.
Q. You’re doing topical stuff in your act. What’s an example?
A. “We borrowed all this money from other countries. I’ll tell you how bad things are now: The Chinese are adopting American babies!”
Q. Funny. Where do you lean politically?
A. I’m humanist. If you look at the Democratic Party, it resembles America. You got women, black people, Latinos. If you look at the Republican Party, it’s white people wanting to live in fenced-off communities. I think the Democratic Party speaks for most Americans. If (only) we made all our decisions as a family, as a community, as a country and as a species (by asking) ... Does this improve the human condition or not?
Q. Were you shocked that no Republicans voted for health care reform?
A. No, because I thought (President Barack) Obama blew it when he had a chance (early on) to reach over to the Republicans, and he didn’t do it. Even at the inauguration, if he would have at least given Bush some credit for his comprehensive and very generous AIDS program in Africa, or credit for making sure we weren’t attacked a second time (after 9-11). ... The Republicans don’t like the health system the way it is, either.
Q. Conan O’Brien recently announced his new show on TBS. And I know you go way back with Jay Leno — you opened for him in clubs. Are you a Leno loyalist?
A. Jay Leno worked, and he was working great. So what was the problem, NBC? They couldn’t leave good enough alone. For Jay to stick around (NBC) and say, “Put me on at 10, let’s try that and see if that works,” that’s incredible. He could have easily gone someplace else.
If anything, I thought Conan O’Brien was not very gracious in his letter, when he didn’t mention Jay Leno but he mentioned Fallon and Letterman and Carson.
If Conan had gotten big ratings, he’d still be there. If anything, he should have stepped back half an hour and sucked it up. I think (his show) works better later at night.
Q. The idea for your comedy tour originated on the set of “Grown Ups”?
A. Well, Adam has been telling me for 10 years to do it, but Chris Rock really got into my head about it. Whatever was in the newspaper, I would go to the set that day and (Rock) would have an interesting take on it. And then I would have another take on it, and we would argue about this thing, in a comedic way ... I find people are really ready to laugh and wanting to laugh.
Q. Would you ever go on “Dancing With the Stars”?
A. They’ve offered it to me. But to be honest, they should put a question mark after the “Stars.” I don’t know who half these people are. It’s like “Celebrity Rehab” — I don’t know any of those people! One of the girls on there was holding up a suitcase from “Deal or No Deal.” I mean, what kind of talent does that take?
(But) I like dancing. I’m taking salsa lessons with my new, beautiful fiancee, who’s from Mexico. But I want to be famous for what I do. If you do too much, people get sick of you.
Q. Your tour is even going overseas. You’re big in Norway?
A. Norway, Amsterdam, we’re trying to figure out South Africa. Yeah, my movies are all over the world. Don’t act so surprised.
Q. I didn’t say anything!
A. (At a screening of “Grown Ups”), there were kids playing us at the beginning, and people were laughing. And it made me realize these kids (in the audience) grew up watching our movies. It was kind of an awesome thing to think about.
Q. A few years down the road, we’ll be seeing Rob Schneider films on Turner Classic Movies?
A. Maybe one or two. Yeah, why not?