Don't miss JEREMY PIVEN's comedy tour to the Sondheim. He is known for his roles as "Ari Gold" in the comedy series Entourage, for which he won a Golden Globe Award and three consecutive Emmy Awards, CBS Wisdom of the Crowd, and as Spence Kovak on Ellen DeGeneres' sitcom Ellen. He also starred in the British period drama Mr. Selfridge, which tells the story of the man who created the luxury English department store chain Selfridges.
Beginning in 2004, Piven achieved significant success playing the fast-talking, acerbic Hollywood agent Ari Gold in the HBO series Entourage. He received Emmy nominations for Best Supporting Actor four straight years, from 2005 to 2008, and won the award in 2006, 2007, and 2008: 2009 was the first year in which he did not receive an Emmy Award nomination for his work on the show. He also received Golden Globe nominations from 2005-2010 for the role, and win in 2008.
Piven has appeared in numerous successful films, including Lucas, Grosse Pointe Blank, Singles, Very Bad Things, The Family Man, Black Hawk Down, The Kingdom, Heat, PCU, Old School, Rock N Rolla, Serendipity, Smokin' Aces, and Runaway Jury. He has also made cameo appearances in Rush Hour 2 and the US release of Cars.
In 2007, Piven appeared in the video for "Drivin' Me Wild", the third single from the rapper Common's seventh album, Finding Forever. The two were co-stars in Smokin' Aces and appeared together when Piven hosted Saturday Night Live in January, 2007.
From A.D. Amorisi, PhillyVoice Contributor
Jeremy Piven is touring around as a stand-up comic, a switch from his usual job as an actor of renown in series such as "Entourage" (for which he won several Emmys playing the notoriously sleazy Hollywood agent, "Ari Gold"), and films like the upcoming "All-Star Weekend," with Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr. So, of course, there is some skepticism: When Piven hits Punch Line Philly's comedy club this weekend, for five shows between Friday and Sunday, can he pull it off?
For those who question his ability to make an audience laugh as a solo stand-up, check the evidence of Piven's jokes-making debut, as 2008's Just For Laughs fest in Montreal, where he seemed as comfortable as a Seinfeld, and as solid as a Rock.
"And that would be 1,000% false," said Piven from his Los Angeles home office.
"I'm telling you something I never told anyone. My buddy - an actual comic - came with me for moral support, as I didn't realize the magnitude of what I'd gotten myself into in Montreal. The night before we took a look at the venue, and it is enormous. So he suggested we find out what was expected of me from the bookers, as my agent never told me. The bookers said, 'The usual, straight 20 minutes, with a five-minute wraparound before each additional comedian.' My buddy stopped and went white."
"So he told me to just remember, 'Tell a story.' He knew I could do that. Then he planted himself in the audience to make several distractions. He told me to use the stories as my through line, and to help me, as an actor, to perform in front of that audience. One cannot learn to do stand-up in one night. Thank God ignorance is bliss, so that the green me just went for it."
So, then, is the key to great stand-up acting as a great stand-up?
"What I know is that I was lucky enough to crawl on stage with my family at the Piven Theater in Chicago doing Chekov at age 8," he said.
"I did scene study, sketch, improvisation and all forms of theater. My first job out of college was touring with Second City. I've acted my whole life, and feel as if all roads in my life have led to stand-up. I wouldn't dare do it if I couldn't do it right. I have too much respect for it."
One thing that is helping Piven to do stand-up is that, as an actor, he's used to working the stage's deepest elements as one would a muscle.
"I've been exercising that muscle for decades, so that when friends do give me notes, I assimilate them quickly. Comedians that I know and love believe that I will take their notes seriously. It is incredible to learn. It's ego death, and that's great."
Piven now spends as much time at Los Angeles comedy hangouts such as The Dive and the Laugh Factory as he does film sets, and hones his craft doing jokes about his life, his family, and his time in Hollywood. For him, these unbilled appearances are like going to the gym, where he is often humbled by those with more experience, lifting heavier weights.
"Comedy is about addressing your truth...showing an audience who I am, and taking them on a journey."
"And, yet, you never stop working out."
Mention there are audience member who only think of him as "Ari Gold," and he laughs. Mention, too, that we live in a world of news reports that find him accused of sexual harassment (which he has vehemently denied, and had lie detector tests that claimed to have proven him innocent), and Piven grows serious.
"Smooth sailing does not make good sailors," he said.
Either way, he is a changed man.
"When it comes to hearing 'Ari Gold' when out - look, I have been in your living room for eight seasons, and one movie, as that character. That's nearly a decade of being with you guys, and I address that confusion. Comedy is about addressing your truth...showing an audience who I am, and taking them on a journey."