About a year ago, actor-author-producer Paul Reiser decided to return to standup comedy. He hadn’t really done the whole comedy-club tour thing in about 20 years.
“People said, ‘Hey, it’s like riding a bike … ’ ” Reiser recalls. “And I said, ‘No, it’s like pushing a bike up a hill with your eye. Eventually, you and the bike get there, but there is a lot of pain.”
That said, Reiser sounds like he is riding downhill, no hands.
“I’ve been so surprised at how good it feels,” he says from his Los Angeles home a few days before a two-night set at the Palm Beach Improv. “I reminded myself that this is what I wanted to do from the beginning, before all the acting and the books, I was a comic.”
Reiser’s acting career, of course, began with his first real job, on Barry Levinson’s cult hit “Diner,” continued on the popular sitcom “Mad About You,” and most recently included Steven Soderbergh’s Liberace biopic for HBO, “Behind the Candelabra.” Reiser has a small role as the attorney for Liberace’s jilted companion, played by Matt Damon.
“Yes, somebody called and said, ‘Do you want to be Matt Damon’s lawyer?’ And I said, sure I’ll be right down. I’ll have him out in 20 minutes,’ ” Reiser cracks. “But it was a really fun experience.”
Reiser still marvels at the enduring appeal of "Diner," which Vanity Fair recently called "the most influential movie of the past 30 years." He finally got around to showing the comedy to his 12-year-old son, and the screening came with a warning.
"I told him, 'It's a comedy, but not funny in the way you think of a comedy. There's no Will Ferrell in a mustache,' " Reiser recalls. "I was greatly relieved that he said he liked it. His first comment was that he couldn't believe I was ever that young."
The 56-year-old New York native says his standup act is exactly what fans should expect from the mind that produced “Mad About You” and the best sellers “Couplehood,” “Babyhood” and “Familyhood.” He’s still flummoxed and fascinated by the “nooks and crannies of relationships and kids.”
But audiences may notice a more happy and relaxed Reiser.
“There’s a comfort level I don’t remember having the first time around,” he says. “Now, people come and they know me. It’s like getting together with old friends you haven’t seen in a while.”
Reiser will perform 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday and 7 and 9:45 p.m. Saturday at the Palm Beach Improv (550 S. Rosemary St., West Palm Beach). Tickets: $25. Info: 561-833-1812, PalmBeachImprov.com.
A summer tradition in downtown Fort Lauderdale for 35 years, the Bank of America Starlight Musicals will again bring free live music, picnic baskets and curious dance moves to Holiday Park (1300 E. Sunrise Blvd.) beginning Friday. The concert series, which runs 7-10 p.m. each Friday through Aug. 2, gets going with a bluesy bang: the Jeff Prine Group, featuring the great Juanita Dixon, Joey Gilmore and Rita Wilburn. For planning purposes, here’s the lineup for the rest of the summer: June 21: Beatles covers from Across the Universe; June 28: modern rock from the Edge Band; July 5: Motown blues with the Valerie Tyson Band; July 12: country from Shadow Creek; July 19: trumpet-fueled classics (Chicago, Blood Sweat and Tears) by Brass Evolution; July 26: Buffett-style tropical rock from Jimmy Stowe and the Stowaways; Aug. 2: classic rock from Weedline. Admission/parking: Free. Info: 954-828-5363, FortLauderdale.gov/Starlight.
If you want to see one of the reasons that Jacob Edgar, host of the PBS TV travelogue series “Music Voyager,” was so entranced by Hollywood on the episode that premiered on WPBT Tuesday night, check out Destination Cuenca. That’s the name of the third-Saturday event, coinciding with the monthly downtown art walk, that brings live music and conviviality to Cuenca Cigars (1250 Harrison St.). The Cuban percussion of Oriente, one of the bands featured on “Music Voyager,” will be a main draw, along with beer, wine and cigar specials. Info: 866-417-9454, Facebook.com/Cuenca.Cigars.Hollywood; VisitHollywoodFL.org/ArtWalk. Note: The “Music Voyager” profile of Hollywood will be repeated on WPBT at 10:30 p.m. July 12.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Author and screenwriter Dan Wakefield, who wrote one of my favorite books about the creative melting pot that was “New York in the Fifties,” is the Writer in Residence June 14-18 at The Betsy Hotel (1440 Ocean Drive), the stylish South Beach inn that has a room set aside for novelists, poets and other ink-stained ne’er-do-wells. At 5 p.m. Friday, Wakefield will discuss his work, including the recently published "Kurt Vonnegut Letters," based on his lifelong friendship with the novelist. Info: firstname.lastname@example.org. Meanwhile, a retrospective of New York art and politics called “The Radical Camera: New York's Photo League, 1936-1951” is up for its final weekend at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach. The show includes more than 175 images from the era’s well-known photographers, from Berenice Abbot to Weegee. Info: Norton.org.
Hilarious in scenes from “Rock of Ages” filmed at Revolution Live, but less so during the downward spiral of his marriage to Katy Perry, Russell Brand remains an acquired taste. But taste him we probably will when he brings his Messiah Complex Tour to Coral Springs Center for the Arts on Sept. 22. The show, as indicated in the title, takes issue with “the importance of heroes in this age of atheistic disposability.” Says Brand in a press blurb: “I dedicate this Messiah Complex tour to the four men that are its subject, Che Guevara, Gandhi, Malcolm X and Jesus — I know this is what they would have wanted. If this is the end of the world, I am going out laughing with an erection.” Tickets are on sale at 10 a.m. Friday at CoralSpringsCenterForTheArts.com and LiveNation.com.
REZNOR NAILS IT
Hard to say what is haunting Trent Reznor now, but we are happy for his turmoil. Nine Inch Nails, which went on what looked like a permanent hiatus with the band’s 2009 Wave Goodbye Tour, this week announced a tour in support of an album Reznor says he’s been secretly recording for the past year, “Hesitation Marks,” due out Sept. 3. The touring lineup for NIN is Reznor, Robin Finck, Alessandro Cortini, Ilan Rubin and Josh Eustis. Ace guitarist Adrian Belew (King Crimson) last week walked away from the NIN tour, according to our friends at the Los Angeles Times. Our loss. News of the tour, which includes an Oct. 30 stop at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, came with the release of a new single, “Came Back Haunted,” a dark and dirty anthem that reminds us what dance music can be in the proper hands. “I am not who I used to be!” Reznor bellows. “I said goodbye, but I had to try. I came back haunted!” Nine Inch Nails tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. June 28 at LiveNation.com. Price: $35.50-$95.25. Advance tickets will be available June 27 if you register at NIN.com.
GOOD SOUNDS, GOOD ROOMS
Two of our favorite local bands this weekend play rooms that best show off their unique energy: On Friday, the pedal-steel-driven blues and gospel of the Lee Boys will rattle the walls at the Bamboo Room (25 S. J St., Lake Worth). Tickets cost $10/$12. Info: 561-585-2583, BambooRoomBlues.com. On Saturday, the Spam Allstars unleash their Latin Grammy-nominated “electronic descarga” at The Stage (170 NE 38th St., Miami). But get this: On the bill with the Allstars? The Lee Boys. Tickets: $10/$15. Info: 305-576-9577, TheStageMiami.com.
Some favorite local rock acts of the past few decades get together for a two-day benefit concert for compatriot John Tovar at Tobacco Road (626 S. Miami Ave., Miami) Friday and Saturday night. Nuclear Valdez, Charlie Pickett, Dyslexic Postcards, Black Janet, John and Jim Camacho, Forget the Name and DJ Alan Trueba will be among the performers raising money for Tovar, the influential manager of the Spooky Kids, Marilyn Manson and the Mavericks, who recently lost his mother after lengthy illness. Tickets: $10, $15 for two-day pass. Info: 305-374-1198, Tobacco-Road.com.
More uniquely local music will be heard when influential Miccosukee rocker Lee Tiger and his band Tiger Tiger perform a free show of material from the new album “New Era” on Saturday in the Green Room (109 SW Second Ave., Fort Lauderdale). Tiger Tiger, one of the most-prolific bands in the Native American Rock Music movement in the 1970s, has kept a low profile since the death of founding member Stephen, Lee’s brother, after a fall in 2006. Tiger Tiger (including guitarist Raiford Starke, Jon Gabriel on bass and John Morello on drums) will perform beginning at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free. First 10 fans in the door get a free copy of “New Era.” Info: 954-370-3900, TigerTigerMusic.com.
GOD BLESS ARMENIA
Finding a good Armenian restaurant was not at the top of my weekend to-do list, until I talked to the Miami-based singer Egine, who is attractive even through the phone. Egine was born in Yerevan to Armenian parents who moved to Moscow, where she spent most of her youth. When she moved to Miami five years ago, it took her some time to find an Armenian restaurant that has food prepared the way she remembers from home. But she did: the Hollywood Grill (905 N. Broadwalk), which specializes in “Armenian and Russian Fine Cuisine.” “It’s the one place that has what I like,” Egine says. By which she means? “Probably the meat. I love meat. And salads. Everything about Armenian food is different. It’s hard to find,” she says. Indeed, the Hollywood Grill does tout its grilled steak, called “khorovats.” I’m not saying that you’ll see Egine if you go to the Hollywood Grill, but who knows? You’ll definitely remember it. Info: 954-272-2525, Hollywood-Grill.net.