Rob Schneider had some small guest roles in TV comedies before he gained stardom on "Saturday Night Live" in the early 1990s. He's gone on to star in such silly movies as "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo" and on a couple of short-lived sitcoms. He also known for public feuds with critics, especially the late Roger Ebert.
He's now devoting himself primarily to stand-up comedy, and he's coming to McCurdy's Comedy Theatre for four shows this weekend. He called from his Los Angeles home to talk about entertainment and Ebert.
Q: You're known in sketch comedy, sitcoms and movies. Have you been doing stand-up all along?
A: I started out doing stand-up. I stopped for 20 years. Stand-up is not something you can put in a box and take out every once in a while.
You have to do it a lot. I hate to say this, but you almost have to do it every night if you want to be good at it, if you want to be the best at it.
Q: So how long have you been concentrating on stand-up?
A: About three-and-a-half years, and I've been doing it full-time.
This isn't some celebrity ego thing. I want to be the best stand-up comedian in America. Otherwise why do it?
Q: Why the switch when you were successful in films?
A: I felt inspired to do it. And I think the film business is in trouble. I think the interesting stuff is on television. The film industry just wants to make comic-book movies to sell merchandise. That's not what I got into it for.
Q: You think movies are in trouble. What about stand-up?
A: There's never been a better time for stand-up. There are a lot of great stand-up comedians, not just in the United States but all over the world. Daniel Tosh isn't a good comedian, he's a great comedian. Sarah Silverman is a great comedienne. Amy Shumer I think is great. Chris Rock, of course.
Q: Is your stand-up act in the same vein as your movie and sketch comedy work?
A: It has nothing to do with my movies. That was 20 years ago. People who are my age, who are in their 40s, I think will relate to my material. And those that aren't, will still think it's good comedy. That's a great thing, I get people from all age groups. I get people of all age groups, from their 40s down to their 20s.
Q: So your stand-up is not like your movies. Would you call it topical?
A: It's about one-third topical and about two-thirds about my life.
Q: Your feud with Roger Ebert was public, but my impression is that you didn't like each other professionally but liked or at least respected each other personally. Is that about right?
A: I think we both had a mean streak in our humor. He named his book after his review of one of my movies, "Your Movie Sucks."
But, listen, at the end of the day, I didn't just like Roger Ebert, I loved Roger Ebert. I got into foreign films because of him and Gene Siskel. There'll never be another one like him and I don't think there'll ever be another film critic that you can say that about. He couldn't be bought.
He single-handedly made Charlize Theron into an Oscar candidate, and she ended up winning the Oscar for "Monster," this little movie that they filmed in 11 days. He made that happen. And you know, I don't think Charlize Theron sent him flowers while he was sick in the hospital. But I did. I thanked him while he was alive. And I feel good about that.
Details: May 24-25, McCurdy's Comedy Theatre. 3333 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Show times: 7 and 9 :15 p.m. Friday, 7:30 and 9:45 p.m. Saturday. Tickets: $29-$33. Information: 941-925-3869, www.mucurdyscomedyclub.com