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Rob Schneider: “The best art comes from cultures in decline. Look at Euripides.”

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Rob Schneider describes his standup comedy as being about his life and the things going on in our society, particularly those related to the economy. “I’ve had fantastic responses so far,” he says. “The best art comes from cultures in decline. Look at Euripides.”

He adds that the economic woes the nation has found itself in in recent years was a boon to the comedy industry. “It’s no coincidence that comedy is doing really good at the box office, and they’re filling the comedy clubs. And it’s also great to be performing in front of a live audience again.” It’s something he began doing only a few years ago, having been plucked by Saturday Night Live as a young comic who had only, by his estimation, 30 minutes of material.

Schneider has always been interested in socioeconomic issues, something that might be belied by his roles in comedies such as Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, Hot Chick, and The Animal. However, he is an avid follower of current events and how they impact everyone’s daily lives. Off stage, he’s happy to talk about things like foreign policy, unions, and healthcare. “I don’t get into those things in detail onstage because it’s a comedy show, but I do touch on everything. You’re there to entertain people, that’s the main part.”

A longtime supporter of worker’s right, for example, Schneider has been known to show up at rallies across the country. However, he understands the complexities involved. “I think unions are just seven percent of the population, and that’s for a reason," he says. "I’m a union guy and I’m in a union. But like anything, you get too much power you can abuse it.”

However, we still need unions Schneider insists. “Unions are the last conscience of big business. People forget why unions were put into place. Children were dying in coal mines. Look at OSHA, which protects worker safety. People had to fight for that protection and win it. There’s a reason you need to protect workers.”

Similarly, we have unions to thank for the 40-hour work week. “The 40-hour work week wasn’t put into place because Henry Ford thought his workers only needed to work 40 hours,” Schneider points out. “It was fought for and people died to gain these victories.”

Schneider does recognize that there may be a problem with some things unions are currently trying to resolve, particularly those of state workers and their pensions. “If you’re a state worker, and you worked your whole life and you retire and were promised money from the state, they should pay you. But if the state is impoverished and is going to go bankrupt that doesn’t help either.”

He feels that there perhaps needs to be sliding scale put in place in order to deal with state pension funds. “If you’re close to retirement we don’t take as much from you, but if you’re in your 40s, we might have to scale back a bit, because there’s not an endless amount of money the state can pour into entitlement programs. There’s going to have to be some sacrifice on all sides.”

Schneider is also invested in other issues, and likes to consult a variety of news sources, something that can be tricky. “I try to educate myself,” he states, “but if you just look at the mainstream media you’re not going to get the whole story. You have to look at mainstream media as businesses making business decisions about what they want people to know.”

He feels the news media in the U.S. have created an odd environment. “This is why propaganda is more insidious in a democracy than in a place like the former Soviet Union. Everybody in the Soviet Union knew [national newspaper] Pravda was propaganda and BS. People in America believe the New York Times and the Los Angles Times because they are independent news sources, and they are, but decisions are being made as to what’s being covered and, more importantly, what’s not being covered.”

And speaking of decisions, Schneider feels there should be a simple metric for any political decision. “At the end of the day does it improve the human condition, increase employment opportunities, and make the planet better?”

IF YOU GO:

Rob Schneider

Rick Bronson's House of Comedy

408 East Broadway, Bloomington, Level 4 in The Mall of America

7:30 and 9:45 p.m. Friday; 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday; 7 p.m. Sunday

$36.95

Call 952-858-8558 for more info or visit houseofcomedy.net