Another Saturday Night Live alumnus to make a bid for big screen stardom, Rob Schneider got his first chance to carry a film with Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo (2000), a mistaken identity comedy that was as commercially popular as it was critically eviscerated. The diminutive Schneider, who was born to a Filipino mother and Jewish father in San Francisco on October 31, 1963, got his start in comedy in high school. He began writing sketches when he was 15 and also began appearing at local comedy venues. Inspired by such comics as Richard Pryor, Gene Wilder, Peter Sellars, and Monty Python, Schneider decided to try to make a career out of stand-up.
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Following high school graduation, the fledgling comedian set off for Europe, where he traveled for a few months until he was robbed in Paris. Scraping together enough cash to make it back to the U.S., Schneider returned to San Francisco and renewed his determination to make it as a comedian. He quickly became active on the comedy circuit, opening for such luminaries as Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, and Dana Carvey. Schneider got his big break in 1990, when he was discovered by SNL producer Lorne Michaels while performing on an HBO comedy special. He was hired on as a writer for SNL in 1991, but he soon began performing his own material as well as writing it. He earned great popularity and lasting fame for his characterizations of "Richard "the Richmeister" Laymer" and "The Sensitive Naked Man," as well as various celebrity impersonations. Schneider stayed with the show until the end of the 1993-1994 season, when he decided to quit in order to pursue his film career.
Following his departure from SNL, Schneider had a sizable supporting role in the Sylvester Stallone vehicle Judge Dredd (1995), but his subsequent film work was limited almost solely to forgettable comedies. In 1996, the comedian returned to television as one of the stars of the short-lived sitcom Men Behaving Badly, but he continued to focus much of his energy on a film career. After appearing in The Waterboy (1998) and Big Daddy (1999), two wildly successful comedies starring fellow-SNL alum Adam Sandler, Schneider starred as the titular hero of Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, a fish tank cleaner who assumes the identity of a high-living gigolo. Panned by critics as immature and vulgar, Deuce Bigalow nevertheless did decent business in theaters and found a niche after it's subsequent release on home video, prompting Schneider to prepare a sophmore effort, The Animal. Co-starring Survivor contestant turned thespian Colleen Haskell, Schneider's tale of a car accident victim imbued with superhuman powers after being pieced back together with animal organs kept the low-brow rolling while marking his territory among the ranks of the more successful transitions from SNL player to big screen star.
Later, in the 2000s, Schneider frequently alternated between starring in his own films (The Hot Chick, Duece Bigalow: European Gigolo), and supporting his old pal Sandler (The Longest Yard, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry), with few on either side truly managing to ignite the box office or his career momentum. Though 2012 found Schneider attempting to break back into television with Rob, a CBS sitcom centering on an OCD landscape architect who marries into a jovial Mexican-American family, the network cancelled the series after just one season. ~ Rebecca Flint Marx, Rovi