As a last minute addition to the Hall H schedule on Thursday, Paul Reub- no, Pee Wee Herman showed up to field fan questions, talk up his future projects, and lend a little insight to how he feels "this time" is going so far. Pee Wee's responses were a combination of Paul Reuben's frankness and honesty, with Pee Wee's playful and ribbing tone towards the audience.
After starting with a brief clip of Pee Wee's broadway show, out came Quint from Ain't it Cool News to moderate. He attempted to give a little background into his own Pee Wee's Playhouse fandom, but then relented because he said "no one's here to listen to me". Out came Pee Wee to an almost packed Hall H full of applause and shouts of "we love you Pee Wee!"
Herman's career has been frought with ups and downs, but his most recent comeback feels like his most salient. It is Pee Wee being Pee Wee but with the tenor and experience of a veteran actor; Paul Reubens brings a little more humanity to his character.
"First time ever!" Pee Wee exclaimed "I must be on top of the world!" He then talked a little about his broadway show but then followed "you haven't seen it until you watch it on HBO HEH HEH!" In response to the multitude of photos being snapped of him, Herman chortled "Thirty bucks each buddy."
Then the questions started coming from the crowd. Pee Wee "ooooh"-ed at the spotlight when it was directed towards the microphone in the audience.
Someone exclaimed how the Christmas special was their favorite episode and Reubens said how much fun he had working with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, whom he originally met on set in "Back to the Beach".
Talk then switched to his new movie project with Judd Apatow, which the crowd was ravenous for new information. Reubens was coy about any details, but said how nice it was to have an "ace in the hole" like Apatow working with him on the film. Pee Wee seemed ecstatic to even be around so many celebrities, claiming that he "missed the Twilight guys by three seconds."
Reubens did confirm that the Judd Apatow helmed film would be similar in spirit to "Pee Wee's Big Adventure", that it would be a road movie, and that today would be the final call on whether Paramount would move ahead with it. When asked what it was like to work with Apatow, Reubens replied "Judd just corrects [them]. He comes back with notes saying 'this is wrong. This, and this, this, this' and we go okay!" That got a big laugh from the audience.
Pee Wee did confirm that he had over 600 grey suits. The factual nature of this statement has not been confirmed.
One fan was confused as how they got away with so much on "Pee Wee's Playhouse". On the issue of censorship from CBS, Reubens said "they didn't do anything." He went on to explain one time CBS said "you can't stick a pencils in potatoes" and when Reubens questioned them on it they had no reasonable idea why, so CBS just said okay.
There was a humorous anecdote about Reuben's voice talent on the Star Tours ride in Disneyland. When Reubens did the gig, he got passes for him and three guests in perpetuity to the park. When his voice was pulled from the ride, his privledges were taken away. Reubens said "I cared more about the park pass." He was later called personally by a park representative at Disney who apologized about taking his pass and reinstated it. Reubens said it was one of the nicest calls he ever got.
Reubens said he "wish he could remember" working with Cheech and Chong on a couple of their movies, but admitted that most of the scenes were completely improvised with actors from The Groundlings.
Soon Quint and Pee Wee got the dreaded wrap-up sign and the crowd was noticably disappointed that a scant half hour was all the time Pee Wee had. When asked if he was going to stick around the convention he said "yes" but after he visits the Alamo, where he was asked to make an appearance on the tv show "Top Chef".
Reubens ended the panel with a surprisingly honest and touching moment stating that "this time around" he's doing things differently.
"I was so busy I was never out and about" Reubens was referring to the first half of his success before getting in trouble with the law. He said it was difficult to accept that people liked him, that people actually cared about what he was doing. But Reubens said that being here at Comic Con and having this second chance he's "never felt so much love, such an eye opener."
The crowd in Hall H let Pee Wee know their appreciation, and for a brief half hour, it felt like The Playhouse again.