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Comedian, actor, television writer, author and musician Paul Reiser is one of Hollywood’s most prolific creatives—and he shows no signs of slowing down.
Reiser is starring in two hit shows for Netflix: Stranger Things as Dr. Sam Owens, in a role created by the Duffer Brothers specifically for Reiser, and Chuck Lorre’s The Kominsky Method, for which he received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. Reiser received rave reviews for the latter, where he delivered a moving soliloquy on life and loss in a scene that MediaPost says “will stand… as one of the finest moments seen anywhere on television.” Reiser returned for the third and final season of The Kominsky Method, streaming now on Netflix. The multi-faceted actor also revived one of his most iconic roles in the highly-anticipated return of Mad About You, the long-running hit 90s comedy Reiser co-created and starred in with Helen Hunt. The Emmy, Peabody and Golden Globe-winning comedy ended in May 1999 and premiered 20 years later as a limited series on Spectrum Originals. All seven seasons of the original Mad About You and the reboot are available for streaming on Amazon Prime.
Reiser was also seen on Amazon’s Red Oaks for three seasons in a role singled out as “one of his absolute finest, not just of late, but of ever”—and in Mad Men creator Matt Weiner’s limited Amazon series The Romanoffs alongside Christina Hendricks and Isabelle Huppert. Additionally, Reiser joined Sam Rockwell, Michelle Williams and producers Lin-Manuel Miranda and Tommy Kale in FX’s Emmy-nominated Fosse/Verdon.
Throughout his prolific career, Reiser has worked with both independent and mainstream filmmakers. Reiser earned acclaim for his supporting roles in the Academy Award-winning film Whiplash, John McDonagh’s War on Everyone and frequent collaborator Jeff Baena’s The Little Hours and Horse Girl, which premiered at Sundance 2020 and is the fourth film the pair has worked on together. The veteran actor has garnered praise for notable performances in films such as Diner, Bye Bye Love, Aliens, One Night At McCool’s, Beverly Hills Cop I/II and The Thing About My Folks, which Reiser wrote for his co-star Peter Falk. Recently, Reiser starred alongside Kevin Hart in the touching comedy Fatherhood, out now on Netflix.
Reiser is a fixture behind the camera as well. He co-created and co-produced There’s Johnny!, a seven-episode series which originally streamed on Hulu and now streams on Peacock. The show, co-created with filmmaker David Steven Simon and co-produced with David Gordon Green in conjunction with The Carson Company, premiered to critical praise, with Decider saying There’s Johnny! is “a television experience unlike any I’ve seen on TV in recent years” and “unfolds like a dream, a memory fondly recalled.”
Reiser’s first book, Couplehood, sold over two million copies and reached the number one spot on The New York Times best sellers list. His subsequent books, Babyhood and Familyhood, were best sellers as well. Reiser regularly performs standup at sold-out venues nationwide and was voted one of the “Top 100 Comedians of All Time” by Comedy Central.
Reiser, a SUNY Binghamton graduate in the prestigious music program, co-wrote the theme song from Mad About You, “The Final Frontier,” with Grammy-winning producer Don Was. He released an album of original songs with British singer-songwriter Julia Fordham called Unusual Suspects. Over the course of his career, Reiser has received multiple Emmy, Golden Globe, American Comedy Award and Screen Actors Guild nominations.
Reiser and his family reside in Los Angeles.
“If Joni Mitchell and Richie Havens had a love child, with Rodney Dangerfield as the midwife, the results might have been something close to the great Vance Gilbert.” As the above quote from Richmond magazine suggests, Vance Gilbert defies stereotypes. It’s little wonder then that he also exceeds expectations. In this case, those two qualities go hand in hand. “I’m black, I sing, I play an acoustic guitar, and I don’t play the blues,” Gilbert insists. That may be a broad statement, but it rings with truth.
What he does do is make memorable music, as evidenced by the 13 albums he’s released so far, as well as the mark he’s made on the folk and acoustic music scenes in general. Over the course of a prolific career that extends back to the early ’90s, he’s recorded with his good friend Ellis Paul and shared stages worldwide with Aretha Franklin, Shawn Colvin, Arlo Guthrie, the Milk Carton Kids, George Carlin (150+ shows), Anita Baker, the Subdudes, Paul Reiser and any number of others.
He’s also made a prominent presence at some of the world’s most prestigious gatherings, among them the Newport, Winnipeg, Rocky Mountain, Calgary, Ottawa, and Falcon Ridge folk festivals, the Kate Wolf Music Festival, and Australia’s Woodford Folk Festival and Mullum Music Festival. “There was also that one nude festival in Maryland,” Gilbert recalls. “I don’t recall the name of that one, but I have to admit that the name wasn’t the first thing I would remember.”
Naturally, Gilbert can be forgiven for that minor oversight, given the amount of praise he’s received from the pundits. His remarkable rapport with his audiences and his free spirited performances inspired one critic to hail him as “a folkie trapped in a vaudevillian body,” with “a voice that could have been on the opera stage, a wit that could have been on a comedy stage and a songwriting talent that’s thrust him on the folk stage for decades.”
Those descriptive phrases come to full fruition on Gilbert’s current album, the appropriately named Good, Good Man. Recorded with an A-list support cast that includes bluesman and singer/songwriter Chris Smither, Al Green’s organist Stacey Wade, Tommy Malone of the Subdudes on guitars, Mike Posner on backing vocals, and Celtic harpist and vocalist Aine Minough, it sums up the strengths that Gilbert’s always had at his command — that is, a gift for compelling melodies, insightful lyrics, a witty and whimsical point of view, and the ability to maintain an inherent humanity that translates to his connection with his audiences.