For people outside of the US, Pauly Shore is a name that people will either connect with immediately - usually Encino Man or Bio-Dome - or it becomes a vague recollection. Others might recall his time as MTV's in-house comedian and VJ, with shows such as Totally Pauly.
More recently, however, people will recall his stint as a reality TV contestant on shows such as Hell's Kitchen or cameos in the likes of Entourage, Workaholics or Adam Sandler films such as Sandy Wexler and Bucky Larson: Born To Be A Star. Yet, for all these seemingly low-brow comedies, Shore was born into a highly-respected showbiz family. Shore's mother, Mitzi Shore, was the owner of the famous Comedy Store in Los Angeles - the birthplace of such comedy acts like George Carlin, Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy, Garry Shandling, Jerry Seinfeld and Janeane Garofalo. Shore's father, Sammy Shore, was an old-school cabaret comedian who opened for the likes of Frank Sinatra during his heyday.
Shore began standup work at the age of 17, and was mentored by Comedy Store alumni Sam Kinison. Shore's work centred on a comedic character called The Weasel, which would form the basis of most of his work. Drenched in Californian surfer-speak and loaded with catchphrases, Shore soon became a VJ for MTV at the age of 21. Whilst on MTV, Shore would further embed himself into popular culture with his comedy stylings - often involving him interviewing celebrity friends or college students and the like.
Clip from MTV's Totally Pauly
Encino Man was Shore's first widely-released film and, with a modest budget of $7,000,000, the film returned a healthy profit of $40 million at the US box office. Shore starred alongside Brendan Fraser as a hippy teenager who befriends Fraser's awoken caveman. Like his work on MTV, the film was loaded with topical references to youth culture and Shore's dialogue was loaded with catchphrases pulled from Totally Pauly, his hit show on MTV.
Reviews were withering. Pete Travers ended his review of Encino Man with, "God help us all." Time Out called it "depressingly witless", whilst Hal Hinson of the Washington Post said it was "the kind of movie that gives evolution a bad name." Yet, for all these poor reviews, Encino Man tapped into popular culture and became something of a cult film in the years after. 1994's In The Army Now saw Shore paired with Andy Dick, in a film where they played unlikely soldiers who are sent to Africa as water-purification specialists. The film borrowed heavily from Ivan Reitman's Stripes, but had none of its charms and the reviews bore this out. Box office returns diminished already with In The Army Now, going from $40 million with Encino Man and Son In Law with $36.4 million, to just $28.8 million with In The Army Now.
For all the poor reviews and box office results, Shore seemed unfazed by any of it. In a 1992 interview with Rolling Stone, Shore explained his ethos. "If I let the people who hate me get to me, I'd sit at home and never do anything. Most people who can't appreciate me are bitter and jealous people. What I'm doing has never been done before – going out and talking to the camera like it's America."
By 1997, Shore had landed his own TV show on Fox. Pauly, however, lasted a total of five episodes before it was cancelled. Two episodes remained unaired. The show was universally trounced and effectively ended the comedic character that Shore had been working with successfully for eight years. After the monumental failure that was Pauly, he cropped up in a number of TV shows - often cameoing himself or in an animated role throughout the '00s.
Shore at the premiere of Pauly Shore Is Dead
Around 2003, Shore wrote and directed Pauly Shore Is Dead, a mockumentary in which the comedian faked his own death as a means of achieving popularity again and selling more merchandise and DVDs. The film remains, to date, his best-reviewed work with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 57%. The film starred Paris Hilton, Adam Sandler, Bill Maher, Charlie Sheen and Fred Durst.
Although he doesn't lead comedy films as he did in the '90s, he's returned to stand-up comedy and now regularly tours. He also hosts his own podcast show. In an interview with Variety in 2014, Shore mused on his own celebrity and his dealings with it.
"I think it’s great that I made it and that people know who I am, but it’s also bad being just known for one thing. I think Robin Williams went through it as well. A lot of people come up with their own thing and then they try to get away from their own thing. You always want to be remembered for your last thing, not something you did a long time ago."