Comedian Rob Schneider is happy to be spending his weekends with some funny familiar faces from his days as a favorite cast member on NBC's "Saturday Night Live."
"This touring idea as an 'SNL' trio sharing the same stage is fairly new, just started last year," said Schneider, talking by telephone during a taping break last Friday from the set of his new television series "Real Rob."
"It's three guys on stage sharing a mix of comedy and old war stories from the same show that put us where we are today: still working."
Billed as "The Veterans of Saturday Night Live," Schneider joins Tim Meadows and Jon Lovitz for a trek to the Hoosier state this weekend for one exclusive show at the Stardust Event Center at Blue Chip Casino, Hotel & Spa in Michigan City.
"When we go out on tour, we like to mix it up for audiences," Schneider said.
"Sometimes I'm doing this show with Kevin Nealon and Chris Kattan. This time, I'm paired up with Meadows and Lovitz. Just seeing Lovitz make a face makes me bust into laughter. These are all great funny guys who've shared some very funny moments with TV audiences."
When Schneider was hired at "Saturday Night Live" in 1988, it was after he was booked as an opening comic for fellow "SNL" pal Dennis Miller, which earned him a spot for a quick appearance for an HBO comedy special. Originally hired as a writer for "SNL," he soon earned billing as a featured player which eventually became a full cast member during his "SNL" stay from 1990 to 1994.
Prized for his celebrity impersonations, one of Schneider's recurring skits was playing "Tiny Elvis," a pocket-sized Presley with extra attitude and plenty of anger when called "cute" or faced with his diminutive size by his "TCB" (Taking Care of Business) entourage.
But most fans still associate Schneider as Richard Laymer aka "Rich the Office Photo Copier Guy," a popular character and simple, silly sketch series he dreamed-up one day after being inspired by his own confined office space at 30 Rockefeller Center, where "Saturday Night" is taped.
"When I was a writer at 'SNL,' I had to share a tiny office and my side was right next to the wall where the heat came from and usually it was boiling hot," Schneider said.
"I'd do anything to have a reason to get out of there and near the photocopier area, there was a work space area where I would end up working. And as the people kept walking past time and time again during the course of the day, that's when it occurred to me how awkward it is to have to keep coming up with something new and fresh to say when forced to address the same people multiple times in an attempt to be socially polite. That's when I thought it would be funny to just slightly keep changing people's names with inspired nickname variations as a way to be friendly."
As featured in the now infamous sketch moments, Schneider as "Rich," a character working in the accounting department but situated so his desk was hopelessly next to the office photocopier, sported an ear-to-ear sly grin while addressing the co-workers who crossed his path with a litany of hip name creations. Sandy, for example became Sandstra and The Sandster. (In a sketch themed about his company's at-office holiday party, Rich becomes alarmed for his Xeroxing best friend after tipsy co-workers get silly and decide to make photocopies of their rear-ends by sitting on glass of his plugged-in office equipment pal. His co-workers make it up to him by giving him a bow-wrapped extra copy of the photocopier operations manual.)
During his four seasons at "SNL," Schneider was nominated for three Emmys and a Peabody Award. Among his many film credits, are writing and starring roles in "Deuce Bigalow," "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo," "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo," "The Hot Chick," "The Animal," "Shark Bait," "The Waterboy" and "Big Daddy." His collaboration with Adam Sandler's Happy Madison production company resulted in starring roles in "50 First Dates," "The Longest Yard" and "You Don't Mess with the Zohan."
Meadows also established himself as a versatile performer on "SNL" in the early '90s, with recurring characters like The Ladies Man and a variety of impersonations, including Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey. Lovitz, who was on "SNL" from 1985 to 1990, brought to life an array of memorable sketch characters like "Tommy Flanagan, The Pathological Liar" who used the old catchphrase, "Yeah! That's the ticket!" as he, after visible effort, finally finished constructing his latest lie. He also morphed into the identities of skit favorites like "Master Thespian," "Tonto the Indian" and "Hanukkah Harry."
Schneider said like all of the "SNL" cast members, he worked hard to prove his comic versatility to the show's producer Lorne Michaels.
"When Charlton Heston was the guest host one week, I did an impersonation of Edward G. Robinson for a sketch and I think I surprised a lot of people that I could pull it off," Schneider said.
"And sometimes, I think I was too good. I remember one time I had a good shot at being cast in one of Woody Allen's projects. It seemed like a done-deal. Then, I appeared in an 'SNL' skit as his daughter Soon-Yi and I never heard from him again."
Schneider, who turned 50 last year, has been busy producing, financing and starring in his new television series, which he says has already been sold for distribution deals and is airing in markets around the world.
After his most recent network series "Rob," based on his own life of ups and downs and premiering on CBS in January 2012 as a mid-season replacement for "Rules of Engagement," ended in May 2012, he decided to re-imagine the series and continue it backed by his own finances.
He scrapped the cast of actors and actresses hired to play his family and friends, including Claudia Bassols as his wife and Cheech Marin as his father, and decided to use his real wife, Mexican writer-producer Patricia Azarcoya Schneider and his friend, comedian Jamie Lissow.
"It's even funnier and a better fit for me, because everything is real," Schneider said.
"You don't get that in Hollywood very often."