He soon joined the Los Angeles-based improvisational comedy team The Groundlings and remained a member for six years, working with Bob Mc Clurg, John Paragon, Susan Barnes, and Phil Hartman.
In July 1991, after deciding to take a couple of years' sabbatical from Pee-wee, Reubens was arrested for indecent exposure in an adult theater in Sarasota, Florida.
The arrest set off a chain reaction of national media attention that changed the general public's view of Reubens and Pee-wee.
He was turned down by several schools including Juilliard and twice by Carnegie-Mellon before being accepted at the California Institute of the Arts and moving to California where he started working in restaurant kitchens and as a Fuller Brush salesman.
In the 1970s, Reubens performed at local comedy clubs and made four guest appearances on The Gong Show as part of a boy-girl act he had developed with Charlotte Mc Ginnis called The Hilarious Betty and Eddie.
The arrest postponed Reubens' engagement in big projects until 1999, when he appeared in the big-budget Mystery Men and Blow, and started giving interviews as himself rather than as Pee-wee.
Since 2006, Reubens has been making cameos and guest appearances in numerous projects, such as Reno 911! Since the 1990s, he has worked on two possible Pee-wee films — one dark and adult, dubbed The Pee-wee Herman Story, and one a family-friendly epic adventure called Pee-wee's Playhouse: The Movie.
Amazingly, by way of a mutual friend of his son Christian, I learned that even Marlon Brando thought Pee-wee was a real person!
He couldn't believe I was an actor who had created that persona-which is maybe the highest benediction.
During the mid 1980s, Reubens traveled the United States with a whole new The Pee-wee Herman Show, playing notably at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Caroline's in New York City and, in 1984, in front of a full Carnegie Hall.
The success of The Pee-wee Herman Show prompted Warner Bros.
Pee-wee's voice originated in 1970 when Reubens appeared in a production of Life With Father, where he was cast as one of the most obnoxious characters in the play, for which Reubens adopted a cartoon-like way of speaking that would become Pee-wee's.