GREAT BARRINGTON — Paul Reiser is still mad about stand-up comedy. After a 20-year hiatus, the legendary comic, screen and songwriter, producer returned to the one-night-act scene in 2011, missing the immediate audience reaction to his funny material about everyday life.
How well has Reiser been received by his fans, old and new? "Not a single laugh yet. I hope Great Barrington breaks the streak," he quipped in an Eagle phone interview from his Los Angeles home.
Following a mid-week stop in Oklahoma, the New York City native probably best known for his 1990s half-hour television sitcom "Mad About You," treads the stage at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center on Saturday night at 8. The 59-year-old is this year's featured performer for Fairview Hospital's annual gala.
Ten years into his career of hitting the comedy club circuit and acting in such iconic '80s films as "Diner," "Aliens" and "Beverly Hills Cop" I and II, Reiser co-created "Mad About You," co-starring Helen Hunt, about a young married couple starting a new life in The Big Apple. The show ran from 1992-1999 and helped launch Hunt's film career and put Reiser on the map.
In a recent Eagle interview, veteran entertainer John Davidson said television makes you famous so you can do other things.
Reiser believes the small screen did the same for him.
"It puts you in people's living rooms," he said. "You can perform in a theater, but TV gives you 15 million viewers."
During and after "Mad About You," Reiser continued to appear in films, most recently, "Whiplash" and "Concussion" with four new films in the queue.
His successes also include books: "Couplehood," which sold over two million copies and reached the number one spot on the New York Times best-seller list, as well as his follow up bestsellers "Babyhood" and "Familyhood." His fourth book "How to Get to Carnegie Hall" recalls his relationship with Hollywood legends and the advice they gave him to become a better perfomer and person.
Reiser has written songs, including one for Melissa Manchester and in 2005 his first original screenplay "The Thing About My Folks" starred Peter Falk and Olympia Dukakis.
But five years ago, Reiser — as many comics do after a multifaceted career — returned to his roots.
"It wasn't difficult returning to stand-up, although the muscles were rusty," he said. "It took a good year to get the muscle going again."
Reiser's routine remains about everyday life, without leaning on vulgar language or content that would warrant an R-rating.
He likens himself to the late George Carlin's ability to make people laugh at a seemingly mundane or take-for-granted daily activity, event or occupation.
"George Carlin used to call it 'Ooh-yeah' comedy. He would say something and the audience would go 'Ooh-yeah,'" he noted.
Who: Paul Reiser
What: Fairview Hospital 2016 Gala
When: Saturday evening at 8
Where: Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, 14 Castle St., Great Barrington
Tickets: Dinner and show package — 413-854-9609; show only, $53 (balcony) — 413-528-0100