Rob Schneider is one of those comedic actors and performers who isn't known for just one thing.
Fans of Schneider's days on Saturday Night Live in the early '90s might remember him "makin' copies" as office worker Richard Laymer. Others know him as the world's most unlikely escort in the Deuce Bigalow films. Then, there's his almost ubiquitous "You can do it" line dropper who has popped up in buddy Adam Sandler's various hit comedies.
Now, Schneider, 49, wants to be known as a stand-up comedian.
He got his big break doing stand-up but stepped away for almost two decades to concentrate on his acting career. In his last major film, 2010's Grown Ups, it took one of Schneider's co-stars saying "you can do it" for him to give it another go.
"I never felt like I ever got stand-up to where I had a monster hour," Schneider said. Grown Ups co-star Chris Rock "kind of challenged me to do it."
Rock did more than challenge Schneider; the two spent time together writing jokes. Naturally, when Schneider started popping up again on comedy stages, he had some rust to knock off.
"I sucked when I first started again. When I did my first 45 minutes, I gave people their money back. I have no problem admitting that," he said.
Schneider said he found his "stage legs" while crafting a stand-up set that he describes as two parts personal, one part topical. He finally got that hour of material he was shooting for, which you can see when his first stand-up special, Soy Sauce and the Holocaust, comes to Netflix this month.
He said he has been able to be more nakedly honest about himself and discuss the joys and challenges that come with being a new father later in life. (His first child, a girl, was born in November.)
Schneider does not fashion himself a political comedian, but he does think there are some current topics and events that are too good not to joke about.
"In my opinion, it's kind of a dark time in America. People want to hear what other people think about it," he said. "Comedy is a very subversive and powerful art form. I want to be a good manipulator, kind of convert them and pervert them to my point of view."
Although stand-up has become Schneider's main focus, he has other things in the works. He is working on a TV series that will focus on his real life, a cross between Louie and Curb Your Enthusiasm that he's shopping around to networks.
In the meantime, Schneider has been getting standing ovations in comedy clubs as he works out the kinks for his second hourlong set. He has had to leave a few of his previous comedic tendencies behind as he strives to become one of the country's premier stand-ups, but he's confident audiences won't be any less entertained.
"I'm not the person I was 10 years ago. I couldn't make another Deuce Bigalow if I wanted to," he said. "I think people will enjoy the stand-up. It's still funny. It's a different part of the same tree."
IF YOU GO
Opening acts: Stewart Huff and Scott Wilson
When: 8 and 10:30 p.m. Aug. 2; 6, 8:30 and 11 p.m. Aug. 3; 7:15 p.m. Aug. 4
Where: Comedy Off Broadway, The Mall at Lexington Green, 161 Lexington Green Cir.
Tickets: $30 all shows. Available at (859) 271-5653 or Comedyoffbroadway.com.
Blake Hannon is a Mount Sterling-based writer.