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Center Stage

Schneider returns to his comedic roots

1/13/2016

What really gets actor/comedian Rob Schneider excited is talking about Des Moines. The Funny Bone is once again hosting the comic Jan. 15-16 — his third visit in five years — and to hear him talk about it, you’d think the star of “Deuce Bigalow” was getting his first big break.

Rob Schneider. The Funny Bone, West Glen Town Center. www.desmoinesfunnybone.com. Friday - Saturday, Jan. 15 -16, 7:30 and 9:45 p.m.

Rob Schneider. The Funny Bone, West Glen Town Center. www.desmoinesfunnybone.com. Friday – Saturday, Jan. 15 -16, 7:30 and 9:45 p.m.

“They get such amazing people,” gushes Schneider, referring to the Funny Bone. “I mean, the place has been around so long; it’s a gig everybody wants.”

The club indeed goes back more than 25 years. In 2007, it moved to West Glen after developers invited the Funny Bone (part of a country-wide network of comedy venues) to become an “anchor” for the new Town Center. Schneider first arrived three years later.

“I was just getting back into standup, and the place helped me realize that nothing else gives you that kind of high,” he explains.

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The Des Moines Funny Bone can handle up to 300 customers, all in three-tier table seating where everyone has a great view of the performer and vice versa.

“It’s so intimate,” Schneider says. “People are moving around, they’re getting drinks, and you learn fast that you get maybe five minutes for your reputation. After that, you’ve got to work for it.”

Adding to the pleasure, he says, is “the exciting comedy scene happening now all over the country.”  In Des Moines, certainly, the Funny Bone offers everything a comic needs, such as state-of-the-art technology. Even the menu gets into the act, with eats that include “Standing Os” and cocktails like the “Rubber Chicken.”

The kick Schneider gets from the challenge might seem surprising. After all, the “Saturday Night Live” bits like “The Orgasm Guy” are more than 20 years old. Since then, the comic has enjoyed hit TV shows and a slew of successful movies, most with his good friend Adam Sandler — “the comedy Elvis,” says Schneider. Their latest collaboration, “The Ridiculous 6,” is already an online hit internationally, and at the same time Schneider has launched his own Netflix show, “Real Rob.”

The series, now in its second season, raises merry hell with Schneider’s life while featuring his wife, kids and a number of younger comedians who Schneider also invites to open for him. After all, “Real Rob” shows its star doing standup.

“It’s terrifically liberating,” he claims. “I get to spend a few minutes just telling jokes.”

Schneider credits Chris Rock, who worked with him on another Sandler movie, with prompting him to “get back out there.” At that point, he hadn’t worked live in 20 years. But after many years in the movie business, he needed a way to keep things fresh.

“Listen,” he says, “the first standing ovation I got in my life? That came when I went back to standup.”

Overheard in the Lobby: Des Moines will have two caucus-themed shows this month, one each at Tallgrass and the Stoner.  CV

John Domini is a published local author who has lived on both coasts and abroad and enjoyed theater everywhere. See www.johndomini.com.

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