On the Scene: What’s in ‘Store’ for Pauly Shore? Maybe a career turnaround with his new TBS reality series

Bankrupt with ideas to keep your business busy? Need someone who earned an MBA in moxie, bravura and arrogance to turn it around rather than inside out?

Who better to mind the store than Pauly Shore?

Uh … Alan Greenspan?

But with Greenspan otherwise occupied, Shore, whose sense of humor some claim has never matched the inflation index, is taking stock of his life after some have called him the laughing stock of slapstick comedy.

Get real, he tells those who gainsay his gains in the business. Which is really why he is starring in a new Sunday night reality series, "Minding the Store," on TBS.

And that store is not just any mom-and-pop operation. Well, actually, it is – his father, Sammy, and mom, Mitzi, founded the legendary L.A. Comedy Store, where thousands of up-and-coming and there-they-go-to-the-top comics have played. The biz eventually passed on to Mitzi, as part of a divorce settlement.

Now, can the star of "Pauly Shore Is Dead" revive the institution? Can an actor known as the Weasel snake his way through the Hollywood maze, and amaze one and all?

Will he be the last comic standing?

Sorry … that was on another network.

But not so sorrowful is the acid trip of a triumph this smart-ass comic has made out of a reality series … really. Who knew "Minding the Store" would be so mind-bending funny?

No, the Comedy Store is no drugstore – although its post-performance parties of the '70s were infamous for comics tripping the light fantastic without lamp shades on their heads.

Some 33 years after its founding, the Comedy Store has entered a more sedate middle age, with middling success. Indeed, as depicted on screen, an attempt by Pauly to ratchet up the roar meter with a "Jewish Comic Night" meets with an apathy not even a Jewish mother could love.

With a posse of poseurs and impossibly laid-back slackers, Shore is sure to shore up TBS ratings this summer with his attempt to put the "comeback" back into the Comedy Store.

And, more than anything, the man who graced "The Encino Man" and set back biology with "Bio-dome" on the big screen is – just ask his mother; and she's a voice to be reckoned with in this series – a nice Jewish boy.

"I need some kreplach here!" he yells in mock regal mien entering a room, where chocolate-chip cookies will have to suffice.

"Where is the matzah-ball soup?"

For a comic once known as a matzah ball who had the kreplach kicked out of him by critics, Shore, 37, is not about to coast now, not when the success of his parents' legendary laugh shop is on the line. From punchlines to his new line of work: "I'm a real estate mogul now."

Really? "This is definitely the business part of me."

Trump trump? Not likely. The series wears a cast – with enough space allowing the middle finger some wiggle room – made up of "businessmen" and "advisors" more akin to comedian casualwear than gray-flannel suits.

Which suits Shore – and the show – just fine. How can you take life seriously when born with a silver gag-line in your mouth?

C'mon, says the comic. Would he be driving an $80,000 Mercedes and be wearing a thousand-buck suit now if he were the goofball critics loved to goof on?

"I produced my own movie early on," he says, stressing his seriousness.

"Have a cookie; there's marijuana in it."

High-five to an actor/comic who chips away at any preconceived notion that he was born to slack off – which is what made him so much money in the first place with theater lines teeming with teen fans reveling in his comic karma and mishugana mantras.

"Pauly just want to have fun," says the Cyndi Lauper nonlookalike, explaining those early years in which "I got a little crazy, but so did everyone in their 20s."

Is it really such a far cry – and laugh – from those days? He warmed to the idea of a "Hot Female Comic" night at the club to attract audiences – much to the chagrin of his more conservative Mom. And, by the way, why not a "Hot Jewish Female Comic" night at the club?

"Because there are none," he says, quickly correcting himself. "Hmmm, there is Sara Silverman, but she's … "

And, suddenly, a reporter rediscovers why X can still mark the spot that Shore stands on and for.

Not that the bad boy of bad-ass banter is anything but benign. "I'm just a little corrupted," he says of competing for the title of "good Jewish boy."

"But I have a huge heart, and I care about my Mom."

His dad needs some tending to, too, given how he acts on the series. What makes Sammy run? Hitting on waitresses way too young to remember his heyday as a hilarious comic decades ago.

Is this series a serious – albeit rockingly comic one – attempt by Shore to show how to succeed in business without really trying? Has the brotherhood of man taken on the devil's advocate?

"I've dabbled in the devil's work," cracks the comic, "but I'm a good person."

With some addictive attributes. Gone are the days of sex, booze and rock 'n' roll. Well, sex still rocks his world, as is evidenced by Shore's on-air talks with a sex therapist. "My whole thing is girls, that's my passion," says the star.

Passion of the Cretin? He is no Mel Gibson, but Shore sure has had a bevy of beauties to keep him company over the years.

As for that onscreen therapist … "We're not seeing each other right now."

What he is seeing is an opportunity to break out of the brat mold of blue cheesiness that's encased him in a career that's gone from clubs to movies to recordings.

But Shore has a good sense of humor about himself. Moody? Not even when his real name of Paul Montgomery Shore offers the initial shock that he can afford to be temperamental at least once a month.

For a comic not apt to sweat life, he swears that sweating out is great therapy. "Going to the Russian schvitz," which he does with his dad on the series, "makes me feel better."

You know what else would make him feel good?

Figuring out how to offer food at the Comedy Store for an audience of 300 people on a budget of $1,500.

Sushi didn't work … how about some nice lean corned beef?

He nods in approval.

"L'Chaim!" says the star of "Pauly Shore Is Dead" very much alive and kicking – and kibitzing.



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