Pee-Wee Herman is back, and he talks with our Ben Fong-Torres.
I hate to be a name-dropper. Diana Ross told me it was gauche. But Ive got to drop at least one on youactually, two: Pee-Wee Herman and the guy who created and played him, Paul Reubens.
He was honored by SF Sketchfest, an annual celebration of sketch comedy, and the organizers asked me to conduct the interview, in the theater at the Palace of Fine Arts. I accepted immediately. Way back in 1983, hed brought his Pee Wees Playhouse act to a nightclub in North Beach, and Dianne and I were immediate fans of his quirky character. Next came the movie, Pee-Wees Big Adventure, followed by CBS putting him on Saturday mornings for kids (and the young and goofy at heart). In 1988, he had his second film, Big Top Pee-Wee.
And then came his arrest in an adult theater in his hometown, Sarasota, Florida, and a couple of years away from the spotlight. He has since appeared in numerous films and TV shows, from Batman Returns and Mystery Men to, currently, 30 Rock and Reno 911. And, after years of pointedly not doing his Pee-Wee character, even as the shows were being rerun and distributed on DVD, hes working on two films centering on that beloved character.
Before our interview, he made it clear that he didnt want to rehash his arrest. He had nothing to worry about. This, after all, was a tribute, a celebration of his work. And with as rich a career as his, I was barely finished with questions about the Pee-Wee projects when it...