"Very proud to be Jewish”

Jeremy Piven in Australia to perform stand-up comedy

Piven tells the AJN about his stand-up and how his new movie “The Performance” is his best work yet.

Jeremy Piven
Jeremy Piven

American actor and comedian Jeremy Piven became a household name for his performance of fast-talking Hollywood agent “Ari Gold” in the series Entourage for which he won a Golden Globe and three Emmys. He has also starred in MrSelfridge, and has appeared in successful films, including Sweetwater, 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.

This is Piven’s first time in Australia and he is here to film the movie “Numbered Lives” in Adelaide and is also performing stand-up comedy in Melbourne on April 2 and Sydney on April 4.

Regarding what the audience can expect from his stand-up comedy, Piven told the AJN, “My stand-up is not derivative of anyone else’s. I think it’s because I’ve been on stage since I was a child, and I’ve done sketch comedy, and films, and TV and plays and everything else. I just like to get up there and tell stories, have fun, do impressions, observational humour… I’m all over the map.”

Piven said his comedy also includes some Jewish references, “I do Jewish material. I talk about my bar mitzvah. I talk about the fact that an Irish goodbye is when the Irish leave without saying goodbye and the Jews say goodbye, and they never leave… a lot of a Jewish humour. I have a lot of fun with it. I’m very proud to be Jewish.”

Jeremy Piven

It also reflects on playing the iconic character Ari Gold, “I talk about what it’s like running lines with my mother; she’s been my acting teacher since I was a child, and everything I said as Ari Gold I said to her face, which is amazing for some people to hear because that character is so incredibly abrasive and sometimes offensive, but an equal opportunity offender; and she’s a pro and she knows it’s a work of fiction, so I never flinch. This is the type of stuff that I will unpack on stage, I’ve great stories about that.”

His parents’ Joyce and her late husband Byrne were both accomplished actors and directors and founded the Piven Theatre Workshop.  His sister Shira is also a successful actor and director, and directed her brother in the movie ‘The Performance’ which is currently being released at film festivals.  It was reportedly his mother’s idea that they create this movie, and now that it has been made by her children, she must be kvelling with naches.

Discussing this movie Pivin said, “The Performance is a piece that I purchased from a short story from the New Yorker that Arthur Miller wrote, the Pulitzer winning brilliant Jewish playwright who is married to Marilyn Monroe, and I got the rights from his daughter.”

“I play a Jewish tap dancer in 1937 that hides his identity for momentum in his career, and dances for Hitler. It’s the best work of my life, and I can’t wait for everyone to see it. We’re in the process of selling it now, it next premieres at the Miami Film Festival on April 11. My sister Shira directed me, and it was great, because we both grew up in the work, and it everything we did it was like shorthand. We worked really well together. She’s a great, great Director. I’ve done 80 movies and I think she might be the best actor’s Director I’ve ever worked with. In another words, she really knows how to give a note to an actor, to give a new perspective and enhance the performance.”

The Performance is a serious movie with a timely message.  It had its world premiere on October 28 at the Roma Cinema Fest.  Its lead producer Daniel Finkelman commented, “The film couldn’t come out at a better time.  Because now it’s more relevant than ever.  It’s all about making choices.  Choices on your identity, and choosing between which side you are on – the side of evil or the side of good?”

Piven has played many roles since Ari Gold, but it still remains a much loved character, asked why he believes that’s the case, he said, “That’s a great question, and I don’t know the answer to that. I know that I think I played him authentically. Ari Emanuel, who the character is based on, was my agent. He is Mark Wahlberg‘s agent. He is a very specific character, and so that character really exists, and it’s not me. So if you’re looking for Ari Gold, his name is Ari Emanuel, and he’s out there. It was an honour to play him, and ironically wherever I go, people miss that character. They scream out ‘Let’s hug it out bitch’, or ‘Llyod!’.

And even while I’m on stage they’ll scream that, it’s adorable. And then I say, ‘You guys okay, do you have Tourette’s, what’s going on.’”

“I think the character was real, and people miss it. Wherever I go, people want to see more because I think we’re living in times where… you definitely can’t create on your highest level if you’re operating out of fear: fear of offending in anyway, so a character like that, you know, how would he navigate today’s climate? That could be really fun to even explore that. He was very abrasive and real, and loving, and a monogamous husband, and cared about the people around him, and gave them a lot of tough love, and we miss him, I miss him.”

Jeremy Piven is in Australia filming the movie titled ‘Numbered Lives’, and is here for his Australian live stand-up comedy shows at:

Palais Theatre: on Tuesday April 2

State Theatre: on Thursday April 4

To book tickets visit: https://www.ablivetouring.com.au

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