Long-time actor, author, musician and comedian Paul Reiser performed his latest stand-up comedy show at the Staller Center for the Arts on Feb. 6.
Nearly every seat was full as folk musician Vance Gilbert strode into the spotlight as Reiser’s musical opening act. Gilbert joked that he was the love child of Reiser and Reiser’s “Mad About You” co-star, Helen Hunt. He performed a number of folk songs, including many of his own hits.
Gilbert left the stage and the hushed crowd awaited the arrival of Reiser. As he walked onto the stage the last few late comers scooted to their seats.
Reiser applied to Stony Brook University but didn’t make the cut and decided to attend SUNY Binghamton. He went on to co-create and star in “Mad About You,” an NBC sitcom that ran from 1992 to 1999. After “Mad About You,” Reiser began to cultivate a following.
“I remember him from the old TV show,” Anthony Tesoriero, attendee and father of a Stony Brook student, said. “He was always funny.”
Reiser held many other roles in critically acclaimed movies and shows. He played a supporting role in “Whiplash,” a Golden Globe winning movie with Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons in which Reiser plays the father of a talented jazz drummer. Reiser also held a role in “Behind the Candelabra,” an eleven-time primetime Emmy award winning HBO movie about famous pianist Liberace.
Now as the star of his comedy show, Reiser’s act centers around his classic comedic theme: marriage and family. He joked about growing older and living with his kids and wife. Age emerged as a common theme and one that related to his audience.
“I know my audience,” Reiser said. “We enjoy entertainment but we’d like to get home at a reasonable hour.”
He spoke about aiming for his “ideal weight,” cleaning up his list of friends and the quirky stories of his 28-year marriage to actress Paula Ravets.
“We can relate as married people,” Kathleen Grossman, an attendee, said.
The rest of the audience packed into the Staller Center seemed to relate as well. There was a constant teetering between roaring laughter and dead silence as the audience eagerly awaited the next punchline.
Reiser brought the night of laughs to an end with questions from the audience. The curious queries ranged from things like “How do I stay sane while raising teenagers?” to “Have you kept in touch with Helen Hunt?” To those of you who have wondered the same, Reiser said to get out of the house and that he had lunch with her a couple weeks ago.
“I loved everything about it,” Jim Templeton, attendee and Staller Center regular, said. “He was terrific!”
Though Reiser did not make it to Stony Brook as a student, he made his own mark in laughter 40 years later as a stand-up comedian.