TV viewers remember Paul as one of the stars of CBS's critically acclaimed "Northern Exposure," replacing Rob Morrow as the new doctor adjusting to life in the small town of Cicely, Alaska. The series, a unique blend of comedy and drama, was a perfect combination for Provenza's background.
Born and raised in New York City, Provenza attended the prestigious Bronx High School of Science. At 16, he was already writing and performing standup comedy. Before long, Paul was heading for the stage of the original Improv comedy club. Waiting to go on at 3:00 AM his first night there, he begged the MC for a spot on stage. The MC (himself a struggling unknown) laughed and replied, "Sure, kid", and intoduced young Paul to the 3:00 AM audience. Years later, Paul was on the panel of the "Tonight Show" reminding that very same MC - Jay Leno - of that night he gave Paul his first shot at standup comedy.
After graduating from high school, Paul continued performing standup comedy while attending the University of Pennsylvania, graduating with the first Theatre Arts degree in the history of the University. He then studied in London with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, and joined a classical repertory theatre company where he became one of the few Americans privilged to play "Romeo" on the British stage.
Since then, Paul has gone back and forth between acting and standup in every medium from TV to theatre to film. He has written, produced and starred in several comedy specials, including his own one-man show "The Incredible Man-Boy" for Showtime, which critics hailed as "flawlessly written and performed," and "the best half hour of comedy as you are likely to find anywhere." The special was named in several "ten best TV shows" lists in newspapers around the country that year.
Exploring the boundaries of TV comedy, Paul wrote and starred in the experimental "Pulp Comics" for Comedy Central. His uncompromising social commentary on that show earned a New York Times review comparing his work to Lenny Bruce.
Also for Comedy Central, Paul wrote, produced and starred in the unique comedy talk show series "Comics Only." A favorite of critics for its originality and offbeat sensibility, the show was honored by two Cable Ace Award nominations - Best Entertainment Host (Paul Provenza) and Best Comedy Series.
In yet another comedic experiment, Paul developed and starred in an unusual comedy/documentary hybrid, "Elvis USA" for TBS, in which he travelled across the United States probing the lives of people obsessed with "the King."
Among other innumerable TV appearances, Paul was a series regular on the NBC hit "Empty Nest," starred in his own ABC series, "The Pursuit of Happiness" with Brian Keith, played a recurring role on "The Facts of Life", and co-starred with Keanu Reeves and Andy Griffith in the critically acclaimed CBS drama "Under the Influence," for which he received rave notices for his performance as the struggling son of an alcoholic father.
As a comedian, Paul has been a guest on every major talk show from "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" to "The Tonight Show Starring Jay Leno," "The Late Show with David Letterman," and "Late Night with Conan O'Brien." He has even become a favorite on "Live with Regis & Kathy Lee." He has appeared on every major television show featuring standup comedians and his bright, quick and spontaneous wit has made him a favorite on "Politically Incorrect." Equally at home on stages of all sizes, he performed for an audience of over 80,000 at the University of Florida's Homecoming (The Gator Bowl) and has toured the country opening for music superstars and playing venues from Las Vegas to college campuses. He has appeared in Montreal's "Just For Laughs" Festival live and on Showtime, and at the "Aspen Comedy Arts Festival."
Among his experiences in theatre aside from his current title role in Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Paul Provenza starred in the Off-Broadway hit, Only Kidding! for which he received a Theater World Award as Best Actor and unanimous critical acclaim for his "virtuoso performance." In Los Angeles, Paul starred in the Chicago Conspiracy Trial, earning rave reviews in his role as the fierce and funny Abby Hoffman.
Paul has also recently completed several soon-to-be-released independent feature films.