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Pauly Shore Weighs In On Comedy's Evolution And A Bill Hicks Story - Exclusive

Looper spoke with Pauly Shore about his new comedy Guest House, a movie that's something of a throwback to the raunchy Gen X comedies long associated with his name. In the spirit of that throwback, we asked him about how comedy has changed since his days in the Comedy Store. "I don't think it's really comedy, I think it's the world," Shore muses. "I think when we go out in public nowadays, everyone's really more self-aware. You go out and have some beers with a bunch of friends. There's somewhat of an angst in the air a little bit because everyone's got these phones and no one trusts everyone. And, 'Oh my God, what are these people doing?'"

Don't chalk this up to "Cell Phone Bad" boomer speak — it's a little more nuanced than that. "Back in the '70s, '80s, and '90s, people weren't doing things that were anything different than they are now," he continues. "People are still having fun but I think there was more of an innocence when you go out, you're high fiving people, you're having a good time." 

As Shore puts it, there's more trepidation now: "People are more, I don't know, they had the guards less up... Because everyone's so nervous about, 'Oh, if I do something or say something that's not right...' Back in the day, it wasn't like that. So it wasn't just comedy, it was the world."

Growing up in the comedy store and the Bill Hicks rumor

When asked why the traditional "Pauly Shore role" is so outlandish, the man himself has a simple enough answer: "I was raised by comedians, so what do you expect?" This is something of an understatement. His father Sammy worked as a comedian for seven decades, opening for legends and doing the odd movie role. He, along with his wife Mitzi, co-founded the Comedy Store in Los Angeles in 1972. Mitzi became the sole owner of the Comedy Store in 1974, going on to act as a sort of den mother to almost every major comedian of the mid-to-late 20th century — Robin Williams, David Letterman, George Carlin, and countless more were influenced by her. Getting a spot on stage meant appeasing Mitzi, and if she liked someone she'd offer odd jobs — manning the door, parking cars, answering phones — to get them comfortable. Pauly told the New York Times that Yakov Smirnoff worked as a carpenter around both the club and the Shore household.

This fed into a longstanding internet legend we had to ask about: that Bill Hicks drove a young Shore to school. It's hard to pinpoint the origin of this rumor, though was mentioned as far back as a 1994 GQ profile of Hicks. When asked about this rumor point blank, Shore denies it. "That's not true," he says, before deadpanning, "No, he drove me to my drug dealer's house." He quickly reveals he was kidding about that. "Bill Hicks I'd known for a long time back in the day, but... [he] wasn't really around the Comedy Store a lot." Considered a decades-old rumor squashed.

Guest House is now available on VOD, Blu-ray, and DVD.