Hey Reddit - Paul here. You guys probably know me from Mad About You but I've done a few other things over the years, too.

I've written a couple of books, Couplehood, Babyhood, and Familyhood; I'm in The Darkness with Kevin Bacon, which is in theaters now (hurry up)! And the Amazon Original Series, Red Oaks.

I'm doing a couple of stand up dates this summer, and you can check out my website here for details, and follow me on Twitter.

And don't forget, the Mad About You DVD Collection is on Amazon here.

Proof: https://twitter.com/PaulReiser/status/732251886989025280

PS - Volunteer moderator /u/courtiebabe420 is here with me in person helping with this AMA.

So - Ask me Anything!

They're telling me I have to go. Thank you all for writing in - hope I settled everything! See you around the campus.

Comments: 286 • Responses: 49  • Date: 

Crotchfirefly142 karma

I recently showed my girlfriend Aliens (she'd never seen it before), so it's on my mind right now.

Every time I see it, you really impress me; Burke is SUCH a slimy bastard. Did you know someone in real life that inspired the way you played him? Because I think you played him brilliantly, and that made his demise so very satisfying.

RealPaulReiser179 karma

See, it's funny: you say "slimy," I say "misunderstood."

There are so many people we all know that could be that guy, following orders and losing sight of the bigger picture. Safe to say there still ARE a lot of people like that.

BlackMetalBanjo60 karma

Did you get to keep any cool stuff from the aliens set?

RealPaulReiser283 karma

I actually have Sigourney Weaver living in my garage. (More work than you would think. Gotta feed her practically daily.)

tjsfive55 karma

Mad About You was one of my favorite shows in my late teens/early twenties. Have you considered doing another sitcom in the future?

RealPaulReiser80 karma

Actually having a great time doing Red Oaks on Amazon, which is not technically a sitcom, it's a single-camera comedy. But it's great fun to just be a hired gun and be in somebody else's show. It's a great cast and a really fun show - check it out if you get a chance!

rbevans50 karma

In an industry where marriages comes and go how have you and your wife managed to maintain a successful marriage for almost 30 years?

RealPaulReiser158 karma

The real secret is I am just a delight (no need to ask my wife, just trust me).

HilariousSpill35 karma

It seems like the 90's were a golden age for sitcoms, and Mad About You was one of the best. What current half-hour comedies do you think are worth watching?

RealPaulReiser55 karma

I love Veep, love Modern Family, Louie is great. Huh - I haven't seen a lot of traditional sitcoms lately. I know they are there, I just haven't been watching.

bnliz31 karma

Hi Paul. I adore Mad About You! And the theme song gets stuck in my head. What is your favourite episode?

RealPaulReiser117 karma

Glad you liked the song. It is kinda catchy!

So many favorite episodes. I have a particular fondness for one called The Conversation, which was in the last season. It was one continuous shot where Helen and I sit outside the door to our bedroom and try to teach our baby to sleep without us going in. It was exactly the kind of show that we had hoped to do from the very beginning - where the idea's really small and focuses really just on the dialogue between the two of us. It came out really well (directed by Helen's father Gordon Hunt, by the way).

DaveboNutpunch29 karma

Did Aliens have an adverse impact on your comedy career? I remember seeing you do standup shortly after seeing Aliens and thinking, "I'm not gonna laugh at this guy, he tried to kill Newt and Ripley!".

Of course, that only lasted about 5 minutes, then you had the audience in the palm of your hand.

RealPaulReiser53 karma

Most people are like you - smart enough to know it was just a movie (and by the way, I didn't really kill them. I just accidentally closed the door).

DaveboNutpunch29 karma

My perception is that you disappeared for a bit after Mad About You ended. Is that true? And if so, why?

(Big fan of MAY. It hit when my wife and I were first married, so of course, it really resonated. My in-laws would VCR it for us. :) )

RealPaulReiser97 karma

I did take it easy after Mad About You. It was a really intense period and when it was over, I was really wanted to stay home and take it easy. But after a few years, when one of my sons asked me, very innocently, "Daddy, what do you do?", I thought it was probably time to get out there again.

atticusdays28 karma

Did Murray really run into the wall?

RealPaulReiser56 karma

No, but Helen Hunt did.

stolidarling27 karma

Hi Paul! Do you have any interesting/cool stories from Aliens? Thanks, love your work!

RealPaulReiser77 karma

I remember watching all of the other actors go through training with their cool weapons and stuff, and as the corporate guy, all I had was a notebook and a pencil. I remember the first day I shot, James Cameron pulled me aside and said "Think really carefully if you want to take the book with you - cuz you're gonna have to hold it for the whole movie."

He was right - but I needed something to hold in case I was attacked.

PS - It didn't help!

suaveitguy24 karma

What did you think when you saw your nephew's 50/50?

RealPaulReiser56 karma

Will Reiser is actually my cousin not my nephew. I thought it was a great film and he's a really talented writer, and a nice guy.

2big_2fail23 karma

You were sooo easy to hate in Aliens... Do you ever encounter people who forget you're not the characters you portray?

RealPaulReiser24 karma

Thankfully, no.

suaveitguy23 karma

Do you remember the comedy boom going bust in and around 1990? Did that impact you? What caused it, in your opinion?

RealPaulReiser43 karma

You're not blaming me, are you?

I think it's like anything: things get big until they get too big and then they start to get small. And when there were too many clubs, it became overload and had to go the other way. So the good ones last and the rest don't.

Jean-Luc_Kenobi21 karma

Whatever happened to my other dad?

RealPaulReiser63 karma

I don't even know what happened to your first dad. I know very little about you.

suaveitguy20 karma

Behind the Candelabra and Whiplash were two (great) and interesting projects. Would you rather fill a year with 6 of those supporting roles, or 1 leading role?

RealPaulReiser33 karma

I'm always looking for fun projects to be involved with. The size of the role has never mattered. Candelabra, I think I worked one day, but getting to sit in a room and play with Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, Dan Aykroyd and Steven Soderbergh is a great thing.

essentially20 karma

At your core, do you consider yourself a stand-up or an actor?

RealPaulReiser35 karma

I always thought of myself as a stand-up, which is why it's really been fun to finally get back out on the road and do it.

suaveitguy19 karma

Do you remember watching Punchline for the first time? What did you think of it's portrayal of your world at the time? Generally, comics talk about how impossible it is for an actor to come across genuinely as a standup without actually doing it for years. Do you know what makes the difference?

RealPaulReiser37 karma

It's funny. Tom Hanks is one of the few people who actually was able to pull it off. I remember him going into the clubs at that time and working on that role. He was totally believable because he is a naturally funny guy. What I remember about that script is - I read it - was that there would be single lines saying things like "Here he does 5 minutes of killer material." And I would think - "Really? You write it. Easier said than done."

DrunkRedditStory18 karma

Hello Paul! With your background in comedy and music, what was it like for you as an actor when you were cast in Aliens. Was it odd working on a sci/fi action film or more of a I'm here to do a job mindset?

RealPaulReiser27 karma

It was one of those rare scripts, that when you read it you know it was going to be a big, fat hit. So I was happy to just jump in and be a part of it.

neonvisual17 karma

Have you watched the show Decker? They shout you out extensively in season 2. It's on YouTube.

RealPaulReiser19 karma

Never heard that. Now I'm curious. Good shout outs or bad?

TheDandyWarhol16 karma

Hi Paul,

I casually watched Mad About You, I wasn't target audience age when it was on, early teens. But what I did watch I did enjoy. Mostly because of Helen Hunt. Is she as gorgeous in person as she is on TV/film? Please say yes.

RealPaulReiser47 karma

Yes and taller in person than she appears on your TV! On your TV, she's probably at most 40 inches high.

burtonmadness16 karma

Would you be up for a Beverly Hills Cop 5?

Where you finally get to keep the Ferrari?

RealPaulReiser26 karma

Sure, I'll sit by the phone - call me when it's ready!

Vighy16 karma

Hi Paul! Thanks for doing this AMA. How do you feel about being one degree from Kevin Bacon? Also, what attracted you to be in The Darkness? Thank you!

RealPaulReiser25 karma

Working with Kevin was what attracted me to be in The Darkness. We have been friends since Diner but hadn't worked together since then, which was over 30 years ago. So that was great fun.

klsi83215 karma

Can you explain how your character from Mad About You was in an episode of Seinfeld, and then George and Susan watch Mad About You together a few seasons later??

RealPaulReiser37 karma

I wasn't in a episode of Seinfeld. However, Kramer was in a episode of Mad About You. He played the guy that sublet my bachelor apartment. It was kind of weird, but actually made sense - hypothetically.

suaveitguy14 karma

What is some good advice to get a crowd back on your side, when you feel yourself losing them?

RealPaulReiser28 karma

Jump in your car and drive away! Always works for me.

suaveitguy13 karma

With hindsight, could you say missing out on Full House was a blessing? How did it feel at the time?

RealPaulReiser24 karma

It's literally something I've never thought about - ever. I'm not even sure that I was offered that part. I've read it so many times that I don't know if it's even true.

Prologic911 karma

How do you feel about your experience with My Two Dads? It's arguably your first big success, and arguably not a great show. Did it feel that way at the time?

And did it have any impact on Mad About You, which came shortly after?

RealPaulReiser15 karma

It was a very productive experience for me in that it helped me clarify what kind of TV show I want to be on, and what kind I wouldn't. Which helped me focus on the idea of Mad About You which was, as I said before, very low concept and much more based in reality.

davelandry10 karma

Love your work Paul.

Any funny stories of mistaken identity? Have you ever been confused for someone else?

RealPaulReiser39 karma

I get mistaken for Joe Montana sometimes. A guy came up to me in LA, told me what a big fan he was, and that it was because of me that his son plays football. It wasn't til hours later I realized he probably didn't know who I was. To my knowledge, very few kids played football because of me (unless they were so disturbed at seeing my comedy, they decided to go the other direction).

suaveitguy10 karma

Are you friends with Richard Lewis?

RealPaulReiser20 karma

Friendly. A very funny guy and a brilliant comic.

suaveitguy10 karma

What makes a 'comedian's comedian'? Who would you say are classic examples?

RealPaulReiser27 karma

That's a really interesting question. I think it's just that they are operating on deeper level. Sometimes they use that phrase to describe somebody that the audience isn't laughing at, but comedians still think are funny. So it can be a mixed blessing.

suaveitguy10 karma

Who were the earliest comics you got to see regularly when you were just starting out at Catch or the Improv in NYC? Did you see Andy Kaufman or others like that?

RealPaulReiser17 karma

When I started, the people who were just breaking were Andy, Richard Lewis, Elayne Boosler, Richard Belzer... It was a very fun, fertile time.

suaveitguy9 karma

Do you remember seeing comics in the 80s that were still getting away with doing the same 20 minutes for decades? That fell away as acceptable pretty hard by the early 90s? Was it sad or gratifying watching their short sets run out of steam?

RealPaulReiser17 karma

You could always tell what comics were going to be around for the long haul. The ability to keep writing material and growing is always what mattered. In Vaudeville, apparently acts could do the same 12 minutes for 40 years, but that's certainly not the way it works now.

Frajer8 karma

What was it like working on Married ?

RealPaulReiser17 karma

It was a great show with some great actors and great writing, and I'm sorry that FX didn't promote it more cuz it would have been fun to make some more.

Donkey__Xote7 karma

You've played characters ranging from heroes to villains, which do you enjoy more, compensation not withstanding?

RealPaulReiser15 karma

It doesn't really make a difference - what's fun is finding a great script and a great group of actors to work with. That's always what makes it a good experience.

malcontented7 karma

Is this the best line of your career or is this the best line of your career?

This is why you are so nervous all the time. You have like chunks of roast beef in your heart!

RealPaulReiser4 karma

Glad it tickled you!

PeaceAndLove7896 karma

What was your favorite project to work on, and what would you like to do that you haven't done yet?

RealPaulReiser11 karma

Best time I ever had making a movie was a little film I wrote for Peter Falk called The Thing About My Folks. He was a hero of mine and getting to work with him was a dream come true.

Have lunch!

silvergun_superman6 karma

What was your experience filming Beverly Hills Cop 2? It's been reported that Eddie had become difficult to work with at this point in his career. Were you surprised that the 3rd one did so poorly?

RealPaulReiser20 karma

I was already friends with Eddie from the comedy clubs, so it was really fun and easy and he was a delight.

I never saw the 3rd one, so I don't know what to tell ya (wait a second - I wasn't in that one, maybe that explains the drop off!).

suaveitguy6 karma

When did you start standup? What were your earliest gigs? Were you working at the Comedy Store in L.A. during those early strike days?

RealPaulReiser16 karma

I actually started on the East Coast. First time I ever went up was audition night at Catch a Rising Star in 1974. I was a freshman in college. I did 5 minutes at like 1 in the morning and got maybe 3 laughs. And those were sympathy laughs. But I still knew from that, that that was what I wanted to do.

suaveitguy6 karma

How do you create sitcom characters that will stay interesting for 3-10 years? Knowing what you know now, anything you would have done differently when setting up the Mad About You universe?

RealPaulReiser15 karma

I think the key is to keep the characters growing, so that you're never locked in. I can honestly say that everything we hoped to achieve with Mad About You when we set out, we actually got to do. So that was very gratifying.

exwasstalking6 karma

What do you think of the bombshell revelation that Brad Pitt suffers from face blindness?

RealPaulReiser18 karma

Is that a thing? I see people all the time that I don't recognize - I just thought it's cuz I forgot. I'd be so happy to know it's actually a thing! (if you don't recognize somebody walking away, is that Ass Blindness? Look into that for me.)

Ration_Pack_75 karma

As someone that isn't familiar with your work, what do you think about our current strategy in combating the spread of Islamic terrorism and in particular the spread of ISIS in the Middle East and Arab world? Do you think we should be working hand in hand with the Russians or do you think we our current strategy is working?

RealPaulReiser13 karma

So glad you asked! Let me think about it.

BuzzLiteBeers4 karma

What happens when you die?

RealPaulReiser14 karma

I'll call ya!

lula24884 karma

Whats the worst way an alien race could screw with humanity?

RealPaulReiser15 karma

To be honest, we're doing a pretty good job ourselves - I don't think we need their help.

witchdrstudios4 karma

How was the original concept for 'Mad About You' described to you? Or what was the Situation that provided the comedy?

Was it just about being newlyweds? (Thats what wikipedia says. I was too young to notice any concept at the time, and it almost seemed like there wasn't an overarching theme. That's not a negative. I'm just curious, when every other show had such a deeply obvious setup situation --- think Mr. Belvedere).

Thanks in advance!

RealPaulReiser19 karma

It wasn't described to me, I described it to them. When I pitched it, I just said it's "like 30-Something, just shorter and funnier." They seemed to get it.

It was deliberately not a high concept. It was about as low a concept as there could be: what it's like for 2 people to be committed for the long haul.

There was no shortage of stories that came out of that.

suaveitguy4 karma

Who mentored you when you first started doing stand-up?

RealPaulReiser10 karma

I don't know that I had a mentor, but comedians are very supportive group. And all of us would always help each other. It's interesting because I think a lot of people presume comics would be very competitive. But in truth, we all felt like we were in it together.

dontcallmediane3 karma

still alive eh?

RealPaulReiser23 karma

See above.

lemming093 karma

My buddy Chris is your biggest fan. Are you as big a fan of him as he is of you?

RealPaulReiser11 karma

Always been a huge fan. Tell me what he does.

pipsdontsqueak3 karma

Hi Paul, what's the funniest joke you know?

RealPaulReiser8 karma

Too dirty to tell ya!

PeaceAndLove7892 karma

Which comedians did you look up in the industry while you were coming up?

RealPaulReiser9 karma

I was a huge fan of George Carlin and Robert Klein and also David Brenner. All different and all great.

Spodie1 karma


RealPaulReiser6 karma

I grew up in Stuyvesant Town and went to Stuyvesant High School which is different than Bed-Sty. Named after the same guy, but different neighborhoods. Bed-Sty was in Brooklyn.

I'd say take Chris' word for it.