Pee Wee Herman Returns!

The iconic comedian talks about his new HBO special and movie plans.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

I wish I had known that Pee Wee Herman was going to meet the Television Critics Association in character. I would have prepared much better questions for the fictional character. I was surprised that the satellite feed from his Broadway performance was not Paul Reubens, but a fully costumed Pee Wee Herman. I still thought on my feet and adapted my questions to Pee Wee.

CraveOnline: It’s great to see The Pee Wee Herman Show is back. What sort of movie offers are you entertaining now that you’re back in the spotlight? 

Pee-Wee Herman: Oh yeah, yes, I’m so glad you asked that question… Dad. Because I’m working on a film right now for Judd Apatow. You may have heard of him. He’s the current king of comedy in Hollywood and internationally. He’s producing the next Pee-Wee movie, which is absolutely incredible. We’ve been working with a writer. Me and a writer named Paul Rust have been working with Judd for about the last maybe four, five, six months. We just turned the first act of it in about three weeks before Christmas. Then, we’ve taken a little break to complete the show and film it for Home Box Office, also known as HBO to you guys. They modernized it recently I understand, like KFC and stuff like that. Does that answer your question?


CraveOnline: Yes, and will Judd direct your new movie? 

Pee-Wee Herman: Judd has not decided. I guess he’s waiting to read the script which is not completed yet. So he’s just producing so far and I don’t know who will direct it. Maybe Mr. [Todd] Haynes could use a little change of pace, shake it up from Mildred Pierece.


CraveOnline: That would be awesome. 

Pee-Wee Herman: Yeah, it would be more like the Velvet Goldmine kind of, a little more like that.


CraveOnline: I first saw the original Pee-Wee Herman Show on HBO. If we were to watch that and the new special back to back, what would we notice? 

Pee-Wee Herman: Well, I think you’d probably notice I got way older, heh heh. There’s a lot of similarities. The new show is really inspired 100 percent by the old show. What happened in between is I originally did the stage show at the Roxy Theatre, which is where we filmed it for Home Box Office mramramramra years ago. Then from there I had a CBS television series that was greatly inspired by that stage production. When I went to rewrite the show, I added all the characters from the CBS show. So the original production that Home Box Office aired did not include Chariy, my talking chair, and Globey, my talking globe and all the inanimate objects that talk. Everything ends with an EE. So I added a lot of the characters like that but the plot is the same. There’s a love story and I have a wish to fly in the show and that’s pretty much the plot. The New York Times said it was thin on plot and they were right, but plot’s not all it’s cracked up to be. It really isn’t, unless you’re doing a five part miniseries. Then you need a plot, but a 90 minute comedy special… And you know, people have come backstage every single performance. All the stuff I’m reading on Twitter and Facebook about the show, I was trending internationally last night by the way on Twitter. But all the stuff that people have been saying is just like their face hurts when they leave the theater and that kind of stuff. It’s a very, very funny show. I mean, you’re the television critics. You can be the judge of that, but I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised and I think all of your faces will hurt when I’m done.


CraveOnline: In the L.A. show you added some topical jokes about gay marriage and social issues. Have you gotten more topical in the recent months? 

Pee-Wee Herman: We added The Situation and a Derek Jeter joke and a Papaya King. Those ewere the three Manhattan kind of flavors that we added to the show but I didn’t really want to make it too topical. I didn’t want to make it about New York.


CraveOnline: So no opinion on WikiLeaks? 

Pee-Wee Herman: Who are you, Anderson Cooper? I guess I’m on the fence about WikiLeaks. Maybe they should patch it up or something if it’s leaking.


Check out the official trailer for Pee Wee Herman on Broadway. 

The Pee-wee Herman Show airs March 19 at 10ET/PT, on HBO.