Provenza at the 2013 WonderCon.
July 31, 1957 |
Bronx, New York City, New York, USA
|Notable works and roles||The Aristocrats, The Green Room with Paul Provenza, ¡Satiristas!|
Life and career
Provenza was born and grew up in the Pelham Parkway section of the Bronx, New York City, and graduated in 1975 from the Bronx High School of Science. In high school, he started performing stand-up comedy, making his stage debut at age 17 at the original The Improv in Manhattan. He continued performing while attending the University of Pennsylvania, taking a year's leave of absence to study in London at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. While at RADA, he joined a classical repertory theatre group, becoming one of few Americans to perform the role of Romeo on the London stage. He graduated in 1979 from the University of Pennsylvania, the year it awarded its first Theatre Arts degree. At Penn, he wrote for the Pennsylvania Punch Bowl and was a cast member of the Mask and Wig Club, where he has returned numerous times to perform in the annual Intercollegiate Comedy Festival.
Provenza hosted a short-lived Nickelodeon TV show from 1988 until 1989 called Kids Court.
Stand up, radio and film work
While working as a standup, Provenza also found work in both theatre and television, appearing on TV shows including Northern Exposure and Empty Nest. He received critical acclaim for his work on stage, with his performance in the Off-Broadway play Only Kidding! being nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Best Actor and winning the Theater World Award for Best Actor in a Play. He was the stand-up comedian opening act for Diana Ross for three years or more. He was honored with a caricature by the legendary Al Hirschfeld. He also is a frequent panelist on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me on National Public Radio
Provenza appeared on WTF with Marc Maron Episode 92 on July 22, 2010. Provenza appeared on The Longshot Podcast Episode 634 on June 6, 2013. Provenza appeared on Ken Reid (comedian)'s TV Guidance Counselor Podcast on February 25, 2015.
After decades as a stand-up comic and actor, Provenza found a new calling as an interviewer of other stand-ups, culminating in his 2005 directorial debut, The Aristocrats (made with Penn Jillette). At the 2006 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Provenza held a nightly show at the Underbelly, Talk of the Fest. Held at 11pm each night of the festival, the set up was described by Provenza as that of a "green room for the whole festival". Guests included Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park. The show was reprised by Provenza at the 2007 Just for Laughs comedy festival in Montreal, where guests included Billy Connolly, Eddie Izzard, and members of The Kids in the Hall. In 2010, Showtime picked up the show and on June 12, 2010, The Green Room with Paul Provenza debuted with many of the same festival guest line-ups.
In 2011, Provenza began developing a new show called Set List - Stand-Up Without A Net. The show was originally devised by Troy Conrad and features stand-up comedians who are made to improvise their sets based on suggestions they receive. After successful appearances at worldwide comedy festivals including Just For Laughs, the Melbourne Comedy Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe, it was picked up for television by UK broadcaster Sky Atlantic. The series included performers Robin Williams, Drew Carey and Frank Skinner and was also broadcast in Australia on ABC2
In May, 2010, Provenza's book, ¡Satiristas!, with photography by Dan Dion was released by Harper-Collins. It features in-depth interviews with Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher, George Carlin, Marc Maron, among others.
- Pursuit of Happiness - David Hanley (1987–88)
- The Facts of Life - Casey Clark (1987–88)
- Kids Court - Host (1988)
- Comics Only - Host (1991)
- Empty Nest - Patrick (1992-1993)
- Northern Exposure - Dr. Phillip Capra (1994)
- Phobophilia: The Love of Fear (1995)
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch -Ethan (1996)
- Beggars and Choosers - Parker Meridian (1999-2000)
- The West Wing - Steve Onorato (2000)
- Fixing Frank - Jonathan Baldwin (2002)
- The Aristocrats - producer, director, editor (2005)
- The Green Room with Paul Provenza - Host (2010–11)
- "Paul Provenza at Comedians USA".
- Paul Provenza (17 August 2011). (audio). Interview with The SGU Team. The Skeptics' Guide To The Universe http://www.theskepticsguide.org/archive/podcastinfo.aspx?mid=1&pid=318. Retrieved 22 August 2011. Missing or empty
- "Paul Provenza". Comedians USA. 2011. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
- "Paul Provenza Bio". Patterson and Associates. 31 May 2000. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
- "The Green Room 1.1 - Drew Carey, Eddie Izzard, Reginald D. Hunter, Larry Miller". Retrieved 2012-04-01.
- British Comedy Guire. "Circuit Training 42: The Aristocratic Paul Provenza".
- Agence France-Presse (25 March 2012). "Thousands of US atheists turn out for 'Reason Rally'". GMA News. Retrieved 25 March 2012.
- Satiristas website
- Paul Provenza at the Internet Movie Database
- Interview on the 7th Avenue Project radio show, discussing the book Satiristas
- Satiristas: Comedians, Contrarians, Raconteurs & Vulgarians - For Good Reason (audio interview)