Funny, confident, and on his way up, Paul Provenza has been on the cutting edge of comedy for the past decade. An accomplished comedian and actor, Provenza has scored successes on television, the stage, and virtually every comedy venue in America. Provenza stand-up comedy has been critically acclaimed as bright, edgy, and honest by journalists from coast to coast.
Born and raised in New York City, he attended the prestigious Bronx High School of Science. While still in high school, he started performing stand-up comedy, and at a mere 17 years of age, made a memorable debut at the original Improvisation in Manhattan. Provenza continued performing while attending the Ivy League's University of Pennsylvania, taking a year's leave of absence to study in London at the renowned Roya Academy of Dramatic Arts. While at R.A.D.A., he joined a classical repertory theater company, becoming one of few Americans to perform the role of "Romeo" on the London stage.
Paul Provenza graduated from Penn with the first B.A. degree in Theater Arts ever awarded by the University, while at the same time writing and performing original comedy revues and commuting to New York to perform his stand-up comedy at the Improv, Catch A Rising Star, and the Comic Strip.
While still at Penn, Provenza was "discovered" by a talent scout for CBS TV. Soon, his writing and performance became part of a CBS late-night comedy special. Later that same year, he was again spotted at the Improv and asked to star in a series pilot for ABC TV. Soon, NBC was next in line, offering him a development contract which finally brought Paul to Hollywood.
Once in Los Angeles, comic success came quickly for Provenza who has since appeared on virtually every major talk show, including regular appearances on "Late Night with David Letterman" and "The Tonight Show" , where he has become a favorite. On concert tours, Provenza has opened for such diverse headliners as Diana Ross, Air Supply, Sheena Easton, Paul Anka, and others. Equally at home on stages of all sizes, he recently performed for an audience of over 80,000 at the University of Florida's Homecoming "Gator Growl."
At the same time , Provenza acting career has flourished as well. After starring in several network pilots , he made his dramatic acting debut opposite Andy Griffiths and Keanu Reeves in the highly acclaimed CBS movie-of-the-week "Under The Influence" for which he received rave notices as the struggling son of an alcoholic father. Guest starring roles on countless television comedy series followed, as well as "Miami Vice" and "Dynasty."
In between his busy television schedule and stand-up appearances, Provenza also co-starred in the HBO feature "Odd Jobs" with Paul Reiser , Robert Townsend and Richard Dean Anderson ; starred in the action-adventure feature "Survival Quest" with Dermot Mulroney and Lance Henriksen ; hosted the award winning children 's show "Kids' Court" for Nickelodeon; and frequently served as a guest VJ on MTV.
Provenza then starred in his own sitcom for ABC, "The Pursuit of Happiness," co-starring Brian Keith. During the same season, he was simultaneously appearing in a recurring role on "The Facts of Life" playing Blair's boyfriend.
Going back to the legitimate theater the following year, Provenza was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for "Best Actor" and won the the Theater World Award for "Best Actor in a Play" for his performance in the hit Off-Broadway play, AOnly Kidding!" Subsequently, he was honored with a caricature by the legendary Al Hirschfeld.
Provenza then wrote and starred in his own special for Showtime, "The Incredible Man-Boy," which received outstanding revues all around the country.
Currently, as writer, producer, and host of Comedy Central's innovative talk show "Comics Only," Provenza uses his keen sense of comic timing to interview today's hottest comedians and to perform some outrageous and bold TV comedy of his own. The show appears every weeknight, three times a day around the country, and was recently honored with two nominations for the prestigious ACE (Award for Cable Excellence) Award: one for Best Standup Comedy Series, and one for Paul's work on the show as Best Entertainment Host.
While working on "Comics Only," Provenza also spent the past year and a half starring in the hit NBC series, "Empty Nest."