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Paul Reubens, Jimmy Kimmel
Screenshot: Jimmy Kimmel Live

While it’s technically accurate to say that Paul Reubens appeared as himself on last night’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, it’s more accurate to note that Reubens’ famous alter ego tagged along in spirit. There to promote his sold out stage show commemorating the 35th anniversary of his most famous creation’s big screen debut, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Reubens, indeed, kicked things off more or less as himself, reminiscing with Kimmel about that time the two wound up sharing a meal at a Phoenix pizza joint by chance. Then, the ghost of Pee-wee crept in on oversized platform shoes, as their conversation turned to flashbacks of Pee-wee’s previous appearances on Kimmel’s show—and beyond.

They remembered that time when Kimmel’s staff inserted Pee-wee into an old “educational film” seemingly funded by the Big Banana, kicked off by a Pee-wee’s Playhouse vintage harp-and-wave-wipe flashback effect. Then the pair flashed back to a Sharon Osbourne-era America’s Got Talent bit, where Pee-wee expertly showed off his knife-throwing skills on a trio of happily gurgling babies. Kimmel then brought up that time that he congratulated Reubens on the 35th anniversary of Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, and, even though that had happened mere minutes ago, cue the flashback effects, and a warm shared chuckle of reminiscence back in the studio. Reubens then asked if Kimmel remembered the time Reubens chopped off Kimmel sidekick Guillermo Rodriguez’s tie, which stumped Kimmel before Reubens reminded his host that it hadn’t happened yet.


The now 67-year-old Reubens was there to promote his 20-city-touring stage show (starting on Valentine’s Day in Portland, Oregon) commemorating the big anniversary of his first, best, and forever-classic movie (suitably titled The Pee-wee’s Big Adventure 35th Anniversary Tour with Paul Reubens). After the shenanigans, he then returned to sort-of reality, telling Kimmel that show-goers can be assured not only a big screen showing of the Tim Burton-directed film (his feature debut), but also a Q&A with Reubens/Pee-wee, and some site-specific guest co-stars. He teased us with the Pee-wee and Dottie super-spy team of Morgan Fairchild and James Brolin, although if Mark Holton’s Francis doesn’t show up somewhere along the line, we’re gonna steal somebody’s bike in protest. (Sadly, co-writer Phil Hartman and infuriatingly chipper Alamo tour guide Jan Hooks are no longer with us, but Miss Yvonne is still enchanting men as Charlie’s mom on It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.) Bragging gleefully that the entire tour is sold out, Reubens taunted Kimmel’s audience with the promise of delights they’ll never get to see, such as never before told behind-the-scenes stories (which he refused to tell to Kimmel), and lots more. Such as his emergency understudy, one Matthew Broderick, who, Reubens said, doesn’t know anything about Pee-wee, but seems like a nice enough kid.

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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