TBS is offering a $1 check for viewers who don't laugh at the first episode of Shore's new show.
By DERRIK J. LANG
NEW YORK -- Pauly Shore is sitting in the back of a horse-drawn carriage trotting through sun-drenched Central Park.
Some tourists from Florida in a nearby buggy spot the star of the goofball '90s movies "Encino Man," "Bio-Dome" and "Jury Duty" -- keystones to his multiple Razzie awards -- and immediately begin snapping photos.
Shore basks in the attention and mugs for the camera.
"What was your favorite Pauly Shore movie?" Shore asks the onlookers.
There's an awkward pause.
"Uh, I like the one about the farm," one of the male passengers replies.
"That's always a good one. That's 'Son-In-Law,'" Shore reminds him.
Nowadays, the 37-year-old actor-comedian is frequently reminding people who he is and what he did. But he's more focused on what he wants to do in the second half of his career. Once the curly-haired wild child of MTV with the show "Totally Pauly," Shore galloped into movies and later his own sitcom. His stoner slang catch phrases like "hey buuuddy" and "chillin' with The Weasel" were the "that's hot" and "fo' shizzle" of their day.
The Los Angeles-based Shore -- who was in town to appear on Howard Stern's radio show and hang in the Hamptons with friends -- freely accepts he's no longer riding high.
He unashamedly tells The Associated Press he hasn't had an audition in months, adding, "It's OK. I'm doing my own thing."
His "own thing" is playing up his Hollywood has-been persona. Earlier this year, he directed and starred in "Pauly Shore is Dead," an indie flick about faking his own death to regain fame. Last month, he popped up as a Playboy Mansion evictee version of himself on HBO's "Entourage."
Now, Shore's fronting the TBS show "Minding the Store," premiering 10 p.m. EDT July 17. "Store" follows Shore as he attempts to rebuild and revitalize The Comedy Store, the Los Angeles standup comedy haven owned by Shore's mother, Mitzi Shore.
"It's like where I was born and raised," Shore says. "People that know me associate me with MTV and the movies. They don't know that I grew up in this legendary place."
Comedians such as Richard Pryor, Robin Williams and Jim Carrey once graced its stage. According to Shore, who partially took over the family business three years ago, laughter at the Store is no longer booming.
Unlike a sitcom or movie, Shore says the improvisational nature of the reality genre worked for him because "10 writers aren't telling you what to say."
In the first episode, he books a "Hot Girls of Comedy" event much to his mother's dismay. The second episode sees Shore's over-the-top father, comedian Sammy Shore, appear as Pauly's opening act at a gig in Texas, though Sammy spends most of his screen time ogling young women.
"At the end of the day, it's about family," Shore says over the horse's hooves clicking below him. "Everyone's got a crazy mother or a nut father that they're embarrassed about but they love. I think people will relate to it."
In "Store," Shore plays the straight man. Most of the series' hijinks come from his parents, pals and employees. Shore even seriously tackles his sex addiction with on-camera counseling sessions with therapist Pat Allen, a plotline Shore swears is real.
"Yeah, it's true. I want to have sex with that girl right there," Shore says, pointing to a female pedestrian below. "It's not as bad anymore. Now I'm at a point that if I do find that girl, I won't go back to my old ways."
This is Pauly Shore 2.0. He's abandoning his philandering past and embracing his C-list slump. He cites Jamie Foxx, who once starred in "Booty Call," as an example of what he could become. Does that means pop goes "The Weasel"?
"You don't want to bite the hand that feeds you," he says. "That noise and that thing and whoever I was then made me millions of dollars and got me to where I'm at right now and was hugely successful. I like to look at it as a good thing."
Rather than star in "Bio-Dome 2" or simply ride off into a Hollywood sunset, Shore is most interested in a second season of "Store." TBS is heavily pushing the show -- even promising to give viewers a $1 check if they don't laugh at the first episode. The money comes with stacks of fine print: unhappy viewers must mail a self-addressed stamped envelope; their name, hometown and reason for not laughing can be used by TBS in promotion of the show; viewers outside the continental United States aren't eligible and no more than 250,000 people will receive checks.
Shore stands by the money-back guarantee but acknowledges all the money in the world won't remove "The Weasel" from pop-culture consciousness.
"What I created 10, 15 years ago was so massive, it stuck," says Shore. "It's taken me a long time to shed it and shed it and shed it. Like normal life, it takes awhile to grow up."