"She said, 'It was not lost on me that the King of Cartoons was a black man, and that had a big meaning for me.' It doesn't cost anything to be nice to somebody versus being ugly," Reubens says, turning introspective. "This is where Pee-wee and me may not be relevant anymore, seriously." I posit that kindness, pluralism, and fun with tape might be just the balm for what ails us today. Pee-wee won't be our savior, Reubens says. "I can't be that, because that doesn't work for comedy." But isn't the resuscitation of this eighties-era Peter Pan itself a quixotic rescue mission? The question prompts a duh-Dottie-don't-you-know rejoinder that sounds more like Pee-wee than Paul Reubens: "You can't save the world."

READ MORE:
Joel McHale is the funniest man on TV
Jason Bateman: Not all former child stars are felons
The child stars from Gen-X are all grown up