Music & Nightlife

Rob Schneider tees up Charlotte show with takes on Twitter and cellphones

Actor and comedian Rob Schneider will perform at McGlohon Theater on Sunday.
Actor and comedian Rob Schneider will perform at McGlohon Theater on Sunday. Courtesy of Rob Schneider

Rob Schneider, in town this weekend for a show at McGlohon Theater as part of the Queen City Comedy Experience, thinks it’s a great time to be doing standup comedy.

“There’s a lot going on in the world, and people are potentially upset and angry, and people are looking for unfiltered ideas,” says the 54-year-old comedian best known for movies like “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo” and “The Animal.” “Standups give them maybe a way of interpreting the world that’s not as crazy as they are being told it is.”

He does not, however, think it’s a great time to be using your cellphone at his standup comedy shows. In fact, he’s completely lost his sense of humor about this particular issue.

In our recent conversation with the busy star — who is prepping a third season of his Netflix sitcom “Real Rob” and will be a featured guest in Adam Sandler’s Netflix special (premiering Oct. 23) — Schneider explained the reasoning behind his strict new cellphone policy, while also offering his unique take on Twitter and teasing those two upcoming projects.

Q. How has doing standup changed since you first got into it in your teens and 20s?

It was a sillier time back when I first started; now I think the logic has to be very clear. There’s so much media and so much in-your-face stuff, and I think in some ways they’re looking for a moral barometer — for you to be their guide. We have to be there to entertain, that’s the thing that’s the constant. To be funny. But you can do it in a way that can touch on some things. ...

And I like the challenges that come with the fact that people are very sensitive and overly reactive. I don’t think they’re necessarily more so than they were when I first started, it’s just now they have a device in their hand that (allows them to broadcast their) outrage. But I don’t really believe it’s real. I mean, I think some people are really outraged, but most people are just, you know, going through Twitter or whatever and going, “Yeah, OK, maybe I’m outraged.” And moving on. So I call it fake outrage, because —

Q. Wait, real quick: Do you like Twitter?

I think people are finally realizing what Twitter really is: a self-immolation instrument. You can instantly light yourself on fire. But at the same time, it’s incredible, the idea that something you just blurted out, that people would interpret it like it’s a New York Times editorial piece. ...

I mean, I think people are just wanting to get attention these days, in this very crowded and loud society. They’re just looking to say something that’s outrageous, to grab as many eyeballs as they can, for as long as they can, and then they’ll move on to something else. But Twitter’s definitely dangerous. Careers have ended over a tweet.

Q. It sounds like you don’t like it.

I look at social media — not just Twitter, but Facebook, Instagram, the whole deal — I look at all of it like any new industry that has changed the world. If you look at aviation, which first started in 1903, well, 15 years in — which is roughly how long social media’s been around — 15 years into aviation, you still had biplanes. You didn’t have international travel yet. They were just figuring out how to kill people with airplanes. And they’re just figuring out how to kill people with Twitter right now.

Q. Anyway, sorry — I interrupted what you were saying about how doing standup has changed.

I also think it’s a tougher time now when everybody’s constantly distracted. It’s impossible to do a show without people on their phones. I just implemented a thing: I’m not gonna allow any cellphones at any shows I do from now on.

Q. Are you doing that thing where you make fans lock them in a bag?

Yeah, I didn’t want to. At first, I thought it was egotistical or narcissistic or whatever. But now I realize —

Q. You have to protect your material, right?

Well, it’s not even the idea of somebody videotaping you. To me it’s just, they’re addicts. People have to turn it off, and unless you get them to turn it off, they’re gonna just stare at their phone. It happened a couple times to me last week, when I was doing a show. And, you know, I get it — it’s something that they’re doing all day. But you’ve gotta turn it off. So that’s it. I came to a point last week where I said, “I’m not doing this anymore.” So if you want to come see me, you’ve got to use the bag. And I think, eventually, movie theaters will do the same thing. Eventually, Broadway will do the same thing. ... But I’m not gonna pay some company to do it. I’ll do it myself and bring some people.

Q. Oh, so you’re not using that — what’s that company that Joe Rogan has used? I think Dave Chappelle has used it, too. I can’t remember the name of it.

No, I just ordered my own bags. Why do I need some company to do that? That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.

Q. So you’re bringing those cellphone bags to Charlotte?

I don’t think I’ll have ‘em yet. It’s gonna take a few weeks. And I should say, it hasn’t been that bad. But I just don’t think it’s peaked yet. I think it’s gonna continue to get worse.

Q. I saw that you tweeted the trailer for Adam Sandler’s “100% Fresh.” They filmed some of that here in Charlotte this past spring, and you opened that show for Sandler. So will you be in the special?

It’s the worst-kept secret in standup-special news: Yeah, I’m gonna be in that. Well, not my standup. I just do a song with him. But I will say this: I think it’s the best comedy special ever made. I’ve seen it, and he’s incredible. I mean, there’ve been some really great standup specials, especially in the last few years. Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle, Louis C.K., and Sarah Silverman’s great, Whitney Cummings is great. But with Adam, it’s music, and it’s jokes, and it’s 30 years of comedy history. It’s hard to imagine a better comedy special.

Q. What’s the word on Season 3 of “Real Rob”?

We’re working on it right now. It’s all written and we’re just trying to figure out with my film schedule when we’ll have time (to shoot it). But the good thing about Netflix is they’re not rushing us. You know, I’m sorry for the fans of “Real Rob” that it’s not gonna be done this year. But we’re definitely doing it.

Q. Congratulations. I mean, even with all of the viewing choices and platforms out there, to get a third season of anything is tough.

Yeah, one season of anything is tough. We paid for that first season and did everything ourselves. Then we sold it to Netflix. It was amazing. I don’t think anyone gave us the props that we deserved for that one. And you’re right, it’s a difficult marketplace with a lot of stuff, but if you’re doing something really good, it’ll find an audience.

Q. What’s it been like working on it with your wife? (His “Real Rob” co-star is Patricia Maya Schneider, his real-life wife of more than seven years. They both play themselves.)

It’s really rewarding. It’s like a reverse “I Love Lucy.” I’m basically Lucy, she’s Ricky Ricardo. I used to watch “I Love Lucy” when I was a little kid and it was just an added little wonderful element to it that they were really married. I remember being like, “How much of this is true? How much is exaggerated?” There’s a real magic to it.

Q. You guys don’t ever drive each other crazy on the set, or maybe at home after a long day of shooting together?

Yes. Absolutely.

Q. But you’re doing it again.

Yeah. You know, why not?

Rob Schneider

When: 7 p.m. Sunday.

Where: McGlohon Theater at Spirit Square, 345 N. College St.

Tickets: $35.

Details: 704-372-1000; www.carolinatix.org.

Rob Schneider

When: 7 p.m. Sunday.

Where: McGlohon Theater at Spirit Square, 345 N. College St.

Tickets: $35.

Details: 704-372-1000; www.carolinatix.org.

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