Ari Gold—er, Jeremy Piven—comes to Raleigh
“I didn’t know you were that funny” is a comment Jeremy Piven has been getting a lot lately. And while he was taken aback by it at first, it’s something the actor says now makes him feel really good to hear. Following a 40-year career acting for film and television, Piven—probably best known for his role as Ari Gold on HBO’s “Entourage”—has decided to add “stand-up comedian” to his bio. “The transition is not easy, but at the same time, I feel like I have something to offer because of my background,” Piven says. Piven has been performing on stage since he was 8 years old, starting with a role in Chekov’s “The Seagull” produced by his actor-drama teacher parents at his family’s Piven Theatre. In that production, Piven and the actor John Cusack, a longtime friend, alternated nights playing the role of a little boy. Since then, Piven has starred in more than 90 films and TV shows, including “Wisdom of the Crowd,” “Mr. Selfridge” and, of course, the ever-popular “Entourage” in which he played Gold, the loud, slightly manic but fiercely loyal and hilarious talent agent. “It was a great thrill to play that character,” Piven says.
Piven says he always knew he wanted to continue to learn and grow and perform, but it wasn’t until he got on stage with comedian Russell Peters for a charity event at a California Laugh Factory that he really got hooked on stand-up. During the event, Piven wrote and performed his first bits and realized just how much he enjoyed making people laugh. “Doing that in front of a live audience is completely addictive,” Piven says. “I had been on stage before but hadn’t had that feeling of writing material, preparing it and then connecting with [an audience] in real time comedically, and that was incredible to me.” Although he plans to continue acting, for the last two years Piven has been on the road performing stand-up across the country. Piven says his routine is wholly original—he uses his own voice, life’s journey and observations to make people laugh, with impressions peppered in to make the storytelling all the more funny. “I’m just trying to connect with the audience as best as I can,” Piven says. “A very wise man once said to me, ‘It’s not a presentation, it’s a conversation.’ So I’m basically just going to have a conversation with the audience. It’ll be like a terrible date where I do all the talking.”
For tickets to Piven’s stand-up show, go to jeremy-piven.com.