Open main menu

Paul Reiser (born March 30, 1956)[1] is an American comedian, actor, writer, and musician. He is known for his roles as Michael Taylor in the 1980s sitcom My Two Dads, Paul Buchman in the NBC sitcom Mad About You, Modell in the 1982 films Diner, Carter Burke in the 1986 film Aliens, and more recently as Jim Neiman in the 2014 film Whiplash and Doug Getty in the Amazon Video series Red Oaks'.

Paul Reiser
Paul Reiser by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Born (1956-03-30) March 30, 1956 (age 63)
EducationEast Side Hebrew Institute
Stuyvesant High School
Alma materBinghamton University
OccupationComedian, actor, television writer, musician
Years active1982–present
OrganizationHinman Production Company
Nuance Productions
Paula Ravets (m. 1988)
RelativesWill Reiser (cousin)
Richard Epstein (first cousin)

Reiser is ranked 77th on Comedy Central's 2004 list of the "100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time".[2] The name of Reiser's production company, Nuance Productions, is inspired by one of his lines in the film Diner, in which his character explains his discomfort with the word "nuance".

Reiser also stars in the Netflix supernatural-horror series Stranger Things as Dr. Sam Owens.

Early lifeEdit

Reiser was born in New York City in 1956, the son of Helen (born 1919), a homemaker, and Sam Reiser, a wholesale health food distributor.[3] His family is of Romanian-Jewish descent; he has three sisters. Reiser attended the East Side Hebrew Institute and graduated from Stuyvesant High School.[4] He earned his bachelor's degree at Binghamton University, where he majored in music (piano, composition).

During his university years, Reiser was active in student theater productions at the Hinman Little Theater, an on-campus community theater organization located in Hinman College, Reiser's dorm community.[5] It was later renamed the Hinman Production Company.[6] He found his calling as a comedian while performing in New York clubs during university summer breaks.


After developing his skills as a stand-up comedian, Reiser had a breakout film role in 1982 when he appeared in Diner, a coming-of-age film directed by Barry Levinson. Reiser's character, Modell, a closet stand-up comedian, effectively brought Reiser's abilities to the attention of Hollywood. He followed this success by playing a detective in Beverly Hills Cop (1984), a role he reprised in its sequel, Beverly Hills Cop II (1987). Reiser also had roles in James Cameron's Aliens (1986), in which he played the villainous Carter Burke; The Marrying Man (1991) and Bye Bye Love (1995).

Reiser starred as one of two possible fathers of a teenage girl in the TV sitcom My Two Dads (1987–90), and later came to prominence in North America as Paul Buchman in Mad About You (1992–99), a comedy series he co-created, in which Helen Hunt co-starred as his on-screen wife. He was also the co-composer of the show's theme song, "The Final Frontier" (with Don Was), and performed the piano for the theme's recording.[7] Reiser's role in Mad About You earned him nominations for an Emmy, a Golden Globe, an American Comedy Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award. For the show's final season, Reiser and Hunt received $1 million ($1.5 million today) per episode.[8] After signing onto a Mad About You revival in 2018,[9] it was picked up as a 12-episode limited series by Spectrum Originals in March 2019.[10]

In 2001, Reiser played a dramatic role as a man desperate to locate his biological mother, after learning he has a serious illness, in the British TV film My Beautiful Son. In 2002, Reiser made a guest appearance as himself on Larry David's HBO sitcom, Curb Your Enthusiasm.[11] In the TV comedy film Atlanta (2007), Reiser appears as one half of a couple who, after meeting at a funeral, are unable to stay away from each other.[12] In 2010, Reiser collaborated with the singer Julia Fordham to create a CD album titled Unusual Suspects, which includes the song "UnSung Hero", dedicated to American soldiers serving in Afghanistan. The two embarked on an acoustic tour after its release.[13] Reiser also co-wrote the song, "No There There" with Melissa Manchester for her 2015 album, You Gotta Love the Life.[14] Early in his career, Reiser was the opening act for Manchester, she warned him that music audiences can be rough on comedians and that the last comedian that opened for her, left the stage in tears. Reiser reflects about this warning and on how he then bombed at the Concord Hotel. The story is detailed the chapter, "Don't Worry if They Suck", by Paul Reiser, in I Killed: True Stories of the Road from America's Top Comics (2010), By Ritch Shydner, Mark Schiff.[15]

Reiser scripted and starred in the semi-autobiographical comedy series The Paul Reiser Show, which aired on NBC as a mid-season replacement during the 2010–11 TV season.[16] "This is nice", commented Reiser on the Stephanie Miller radio program, "because you get to sit around and root for other shows to fail." However, due to the lack of lead time and promotion by NBC prior to its debut (as well as poor scheduling),[17][18] the low-rated show was canceled on April 22, 2011, with only two episodes aired.[19][20][21] He co-created (but did not star in) the 2017 dramedy There's... Johnny!, set backstage at The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1972. Originally created for Seeso, the seven-episode season was released on Hulu after Seeso's collapse.[22]

Reiser has written three books: Couplehood, about the ups and downs of being in a committed relationship; Babyhood, about his experiences as a first-time father; and Familyhood (released in May 2011), a collection of humorous essays. Couplehood is unique in that it starts on page 145; Reiser explained this as his method of giving the reader a false sense of accomplishment. In 1996, Reiser appeared on Late Show with David Letterman in the middle of writing Babyhood. Since he had not yet decided on a title, he presented a prop book, titled simply "Book" and with the same cover as that of Couplehood.

Personal lifeEdit

Reiser married Paula Ravets on August 21, 1988. They have two sons: Ezra Samuel (born 1995) and Leon (born 2000). He is the cousin of screenwriter and producer Will Reiser,[23] who is known for writing the semi-autobiographical comedy-drama film 50/50 (2011).

Reiser's first cousin is the legal scholar Richard Epstein.[24]



Year Title Role Notes
1982 Diner Modell
1984 Beverly Hills Cop Det. Jeffrey Friedman
1986 Odd Jobs Max
Aliens Carter Burke
1987 Beverly Hills Cop II Det. Jeffrey Friedman
Cross My Heart Bruce Gaynor
1990 Crazy People Stephen Bachman
1991 The Marrying Man Phil Golden
1992 3½ Blocks from Home Himself
1993 Family Prayers Dan Linder
1994 Mr. Write Charlie Fisher
1995 Bye Bye Love Donny
1999 Get Bruce Unknown
The Story of Us Dave Uncredited
Pros & Cons Prison Man #1
2001 One Night at McCool's Carl
2002 Purpose Ben Fisher
2005 The Thing About My Folks Ben Kleinman
The Aristocrats Himself
2009 Funny People
2014 Whiplash Jim Neiman
Life After Beth Noah Orfman
2015 Concussion Dr. Elliot Pellman
2016 Joshy Steve
Miles Lloyd Bryant
War on Everyone Lt. Gerry Stanton
The Book of Love Wendell
The Darkness Simon Richards
2017 The Little Hours Ilario
I Do... Until I Don't Harvey Burger
2018 The Spy Who Dumped Me Arnie Freeman
2020 Horse Girl Post-production
Fatherhood Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1982 Remington Steele Ivan Turbell Episode: "A Good Night's Steele"
1987 Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color Dexter Bunche Episode: "You Ruined My Life"
1987–90 My Two Dads Michael Taylor 60 episodes
1992–1999, 2019 Mad About You Paul Buchman 164 episodes
Viewers for Quality Television Award for Best Actor in a Quality Comedy Series
Nominated—American Comedy Award for Funniest Male Performer in a Television Series
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy (1995–98)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series (1994–97)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (1994–99)
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series (1995–96)
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (1995–98)
Nominated—Viewers for Quality Television Award for Best Actor in a Quality Comedy Series
1993 The Tower Tony Minot Television movie
1995 37th Annual Grammy Awards Himself (host) TV special
Saturday Night Live Himself (host) Episode: "Paul Reiser/Annie Lennox"
2001 My Beautiful Son Jerry Lipman Television movie; AKA Strange Relations
2002 Curb Your Enthusiasm Paul Reiser Episode: "The Terrorist Attack"
Women vs. Men Bruce Television movie
2011 The Paul Reiser Show Paul Reiser 7 episodes (5 unaired)
2013 Behind the Candelabra Mr. Felder Television movie
2014–16 TripTank Gary (voice) 10 episodes
2014–15 Married Shep 10 episodes
2014–17 Red Oaks Doug Getty 23 episodes
2017–present Stranger Things Dr. Sam Owens 9 episodes

Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series

2018 The Romanoffs Bob Isaacson Episode: "House of Special Purpose"
2019 Fosse/Verdon Cy Feuer 2 episodes
The Kominsky Method Martin 6 episodes


  1. ^ "Paul Reiser Then and Now". Stanton Daily. Retrieved March 30, 2018.
  2. ^ "Paul Reiser | 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time". Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  3. ^ "Paul Reiser Biography (1957–)". Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  4. ^ Lyman, Rick (September 5, 1997). "Be It Ever So Urban, It's Green". The New York Times. Retrieved November 1, 2007.
  5. ^ "Binghamton University - Magazine: Comic relief". Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  6. ^ "26, 2009+00:01:09". Archived from the original on October 19, 2009. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
  7. ^ "Final Frontier by Andrew Gold Songfacts". Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  8. ^ Carter, Bill (March 24, 1998). "THE MEDIA BUSINESS; NBC Signs Deal to Keep 'Mad About You' for Another Season". The New York Times. Retrieved March 24, 2008.
  9. ^ Hibberd, James (April 12, 2018). "Mad About You: Paul Reiser, Helen Hunt close deals for series revival". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
  10. ^ Ausiello, Michael (March 6, 2019). "Mad About You Revival With Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt (Finally) Finds a Home". TVLine.
  11. ^ "Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 3, Episode 5 : The Terrorist Attack". Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  12. ^ "Prinze Braves Atlanta for CBS". Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  13. ^ Friedman, Roger (September 20, 2010). "Paul Reiser, Musician: TV Comic Joins Famed Singer in Song for Soldiers". Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  14. ^ Shapiro, Gregg (2015). "Melissa Manchester Loving the life: an interview with Melissa Manchester". Retrieved July 24, 2015. Manchester: I didn't know that Paul's a musician. I went to a concert and it turned out that he had co-written several of the lovely songs that the artist was doing. He was there and I asked him if he would like to write (with me) and he said, "Sure." I went to his home and we knocked it out.
  15. ^ Ritch Shydner; Mark Schiff (January 21, 2009). I Killed: True Stories of the Road from America's Top Comics. Crown/Archetype. p. 98. ISBN 9780307496041. Retrieved July 25, 2015.
  16. ^ "NBC Unveils 2010–11 Primetime Schedule Accented by Five New Comedies, Seven New Dramas and New Alternative Program". The Futon Critic. May 16, 2010. Retrieved May 31, 2010.
  17. ^ "Paul Reiser Speaks Out About NBC on 'The Tonight Show'". Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  18. ^ "Amy Landecker moves on after Paul Reiser Show". April 27, 2011. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  19. ^ Seidman, Robert (April 22, 2011). "NBC Cancels The Paul Reiser Show". The Futon Critic. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  20. ^ Seidman, Robert (April 22, 2011). "The Paul Reiser Show Cancelled After Two Episodes – Ratings | TVbytheNumbers". Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  21. ^ "Paul Reiser Show canceled". TV Series Finale. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  22. ^ Tim Goodman (November 16, 2017). "'There's ... Johnny!': TV Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
  23. ^ "I am Paul Reiser - Actor, Comedian, Author, and Musician. Ask Me Anything! • /r/IAmA". Retrieved October 23, 2016.
  24. ^ "The Chicken or The Egg?". February 13, 2014. Retrieved April 1, 2015.

External linksEdit