Like him or not, comedian Pauly Shore was a Gen X pop icon. From his early days as an MTV VJ to his starring roles in a string of early 90s comedies, Shore set himself apart with his one-of-a-kind surfer schtick. But the persona only took him so far—by the end of the decade, the dude known as The Weasel slipped into obscurity.
Now he’s staging a return to the spotlight. Find out what Pauly Shore is working on these days, and how his hiatus has led to a new perspective on being a celebrity.
Who Is Pauly Shore?
Actor and comedian Pauly Shore is best known for his days as a fresh-faced VJ on his namesake MTV show Totally Pauly. A fixture on the music channel from 1989 to 1994, he introduced a national audience to “The Weasel,” his silly surfer alter ego. The character was such a hit that Shore parlayed it into a modest film career. Throughout the early 90s, he played some variation on a lewd dude in a number of cult classic comedies (Encino Man, Son In Law, Bio-Dome).
Mentored by the late comedian Sam Kinison, Shore invented The Weasel in the late 1980s. His stoner-surfer parlance perfectly captured the spirit of the times. It also attracted the attention of MTV execs, who hoped to capitalize on his persona.
“MTV saw me… and asked me to come to Spring Break,” Shore explained to the Daily Beast. “It didn’t go so hot. I was pretty nervous and green. I think I was 19 or 20. And then I just went back to the drawing board and started writing my stand-up and working my act and getting my confidence up. And then we did a show called Comic Strip Live. We sent that to MTV and then they said, he’s ready now. And then it just kind of snowballed into the biggest thing of my career, which was Totally Pauly.”
Shore became an overnight star, but in many ways, it’s no surprise that he chose a career in show business. His dad was the late Sammy Shore, a comic who opened for Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. And his mom, Mitzi Shore, was the legendary owner of The Comedy Store in LA. Shore’s childhood was an unconventional one that gave him direct access to stand-up legends.
“My mom had afterparties at our house, but I was a light sleeper,” Shore told the New York Times. “From the third grade through junior high, I would wake up in the middle of the night and everyone would be in the living room: Mom, Richard Belzer, Robin Williams, Richard Pryor, David Tyree, other randoms. She’d bring champagne from the Store and there’d be lots of joints.”
Mitzi died in 2018. According to her will, Pauly was appointed as the manager of The Comedy Store and was required to be paid “a decent salary.” Her other son Peter was left in charge of the estate and will manage the family’s production company. Mitzi’s third son, Scott, was named a property manager for all assets controlled by her estate.
In an interview with Vulture, Mike Binder, director of a five-part docuseries on The Comedy Store, revealed that family in-fighting led to some rearrangements. “They went through a long fight,” said Binder. “They’ve worked it out. It’s done. It’s just business. It’s just money. Peter runs it. Pauly is a comedian.”
Pauly Shore Is The Voice of “Bobby” From The Goofy Movie
Believe it or not, Shore isn’t just a self-described “stony crusty dude” known for hosting raucous Spring Break specials. He’s also worked on family-friendly projects. In 1994 he voiced Robert “Bobby” Zimuruski in Disney’s A Goofy Movie. He reprised the role in the 2000 sequel An Extremely Goofy Movie.
Bobby was a G-rated version of The Weasel, playing a surfer dude sidekick to Goofy’s son Max. His obsession with Cheddar Whizzy led to a role packed with puns (“Max look! It’s the leaning tower of cheeza!”)
In 1997, Shore suffered a huge blow to his career. Pauly, his own Fox sitcom, was pulled off the air after only five episodes. In hindsight, he told the Daily Beast that signing on was a rushed decision.
“Instead of going, wait a minute, maybe I should stop while I’m ahead and not do this and leave them wanting more, I figured I’d make it work in the writers’ room,” said Shore. “I’d cast it right. But the problem was, it was just wrong. The concept was wrong, everything was wrong about it. But I didn’t see it at the time because I was blinded by the fact that I was going to try to make it work. So I should have probably passed, but I wanted to work.”
Co-star Charlotte Ross told TV Guide that the show’s failure was an unfortunate death knell for Shore. “All of the interviews that I did for that show, I spent the first 10 minutes defending Pauly,” she said. “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.”
What Pauly Shore Is Up To Today
After more than three decades since he first unleashed The Weasel on the world, Pauly Shore is making a comeback. In 2015, he launched The Pauly Shore Podcast. Guests ranged from fellow 90s throwbacks Tia Carrere, Fred Durst) to modern comedy stars (Judd Apatow, Nick Kroll.) The concept has since been rebranded as Pauly Shore’s Random Rants and can be seen on the comedian’s YouTube channel.
Following his mother’s death, Shore left Los Angeles and resettled in Las Vegas. He still makes media appearances (The Joe Rogan Experience, Ridiculousness) and reveals flashes of his former persona.
He’s also busy working on multiple projects. In September 2020 he starred in the Netflix comedy Guest House, and in the following month, he appeared in Mike Binder’s The Comedy Store, a documentary of Mitzi’s life.
Shore seems more content in this next chapter of his career. “Instead of being hurt [by losing fame], I should have been patting myself on the back and going, ‘Wow you had an awesome run. Now let’s take some time off,’” he told People. “My journey made me realize, ‘You need to look at what you have…not what you don’t have.’”
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