Rob Schneider rubs people the funny way

Nathalie Tomada (The Philippine Star) - October 29, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - There’s no question on how hilarious a man Rob Schneider is. The Hollywood actor-comedian is not just a riot on screen but also off it.

At a presscon yesterday, the media had a sample of his stand-up comedy act — which he is touring around the world and made its Manila stop yesterday evening at the Solaire Resort and Casino — not letting up on jokes and quips. 

And the big bonus? He’s around Filipinos.

The L.A.-based Rob, whose mother is Filipino, said there’s nothing like making Filipinos laugh. “I’m telling you, the best laughing people in the world are Filipinos, man. Nothing makes you feel better than Filipinos laughing.”

During the presscon, Rob poked fun at a lot of things, starting with himself. “I grew up just south of Daly City, which they call, you know, Little Manila. More Filipino people than anybody else. So, I never consider myself short as I was always surrounded by Filipino people. I always considered myself as a basketball player or something till I was in high school, when both my friends were about a foot taller than me that I realized I was short (laughs).”

He didn’t spare his Filipino roots and relatives: “I have a lot of relatives coming in from Baguio, the Hamadas, then the Formosos from here in Manila… They’re coming in, ‘Robert, can we have 55 hundred tickets for the show tonight, we’re coming, we’re bringing a few friends, we’re bringing in 55,522 people from Baguio. It took us six days to get here.’”

And he joked about trademark Pinoy quirks — like saying “excuse me, excuse me,” every time a reporter navigates the chairs for a turn at the mic — or telling a local stand-up comedian who was hosting his show: You better be funny.

Rob, who co-wrote and starred in such hit comedies Deuce Bigalow movies, The Hot Chick and The Animal, said that not only does he owe his sense of humor to his genes, but his training ground was his home amidst encouraging and supportive Filipino relatives.  

“My mom being Filipino and my dad being Jewish, it was a good mix. So, we had good laughing people. When you’re Filipino, as soon as you’re done eating, you’re laughing. Usually, they’re laughing while they’re eating. It was a great place to practice.

“(As a stand-up comedian) you have to have confidence to get on stage and perform for other people. My relatives were so warm and supportive of me that I felt if I could make everybody there laugh, then I have a chance of making other people laugh. I couldn’t wait for any holiday or something because it was great, you’d be around all of them, laughing and the good food, lumpia, pancit, adobo….

“I mean, the only reason I became successful is because I had a lot of support when I was a kid. I felt the love from them. You know, I can deal with rejection; you can deal with rejection as long as you know you got some love behind you. If everything fails, I can go home and make them laugh, and I know I can get some good food (laughs).”

A good Filipino trait that he particularly learned from his mother’s side is being hard-working.

“I’ve traveled all over the world, and one thing constant — hard-working Filipino people. Everywhere. I was just in Singapore, so many people working and laughing over there are Filipinos. You better be nice to Filipinos because you might end up in the hospital one day and they’re running the place (laughs). You better respect Filipinos ‘coz you’re gonna need them one day. They’re caretakers. My family in New Jersey, the Lapids also from Baguio, they have nursing homes. They take care of people and it’s the best because they do it with love. There’s nothing better than that.”

Rob said his mother taught him to expect more from himself. “I would get A’s and B’s in my report card, and she goes, ‘So, what? You’re not an idiot. You’re expected to get that. You’re smart. When you get something special, then we’ll talk.’ My whole childhood was like that. She pushed me to be overly successful. My mother, she went to college, she put herself through school, she worked hard. That’s why she expected a lot (from me). She set a good example.”

He continued, “I used to love hearing all her stories about the war, the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. My mother found money that the Japanese buried in a cave. Her mother washed it and that’s what they went to school with. She never had a father (who was an American soldier who just left). They also found these ‘valuable’ things that they thought were metal pineapples but it turned out they were hand grenades (laughs). That’s a true story… My life is never gonna be as hard as that. So my mom instilled in me, you gotta work and you’ll be successful, and don’t let anything stop you. That’s a beautiful trait and that’s a Filipino trait.”

Rob is a new father with his Mexican TV producer wife. He said this new chapter in his life is giving him new comedy ideas. “I feel like I can do something that is a little more mature as it was before. I couldn’t do Deuce Bigalow again even if I had to. If I had to dress up like a teenage girl right now, I’d probably get arrested although Hot Chick was a good movie.”

When asked how does a funny guy like him win over the ladies (like his wife), he said, “I try to make them laugh, I cook a mean adobo. But right now, the best way to win my wife’s heart is an American Express Black Card that doesn’t have a limit. She likes that. But she doesn’t go too crazy with buying stuff.”

 As for plans to do a movie again, Rob revealed that there  is one in the pipeline with frequent collaborator, Adam Sandler, whose movies like Bedtime Stories, You Don’t Mess with The Zohan, 50 First Dates, among many others, he appeared in. “Adam Sandler wants to do one next summer a Western titled the Ridiculous Six instead of the (’60s movie) Magnificent Seven.”

He also wants to produce a movie, like the story of Journey singer Arnel Pineda. On TV, he will work on a new one next month, which will be eight episodes and to be titled Real Rob.

But his focus at the moment is his stand-up comedy. Not many people know that Rob started out as a stand-up comic. That’s how he got into showbiz. He made his major TV debut in 1987 in The David Letterman Show and then became a mainstay in Saturday Night Live. For the last 20 years, however, he’s been doing movies and television.

Rob did over 200 stand-up comedy shows last year, mostly in the US, and  just came from sold-out shows in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.

He said, “I’m not messing around. I want to be the best at this thing. And to do that you only have to do this and not make it a side job. There are really great comics right now like Chris Rock is going out; he’s the one who talked me into doing this thing four years ago.”

After his one-night-only show here, he plans on returning with his wife and daughter for a vacation to Cebu and Baguio (places he first went to in the ‘70s as a child) and mounting an Asian Comedy International Festival to discover and drumbeat Asian talents in the comedy circuit. 

“Things are starting to open up for Asians in Hollywood. It’s time for it.”

Rob is turning 50 on Thursday, Oct. 31 — during the presscon, he was given a surprise advance birthday cake — but still doesn’t look his age. He said, “(Well) thank God, I’m Filipino!”


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