Comedian Pauly Shore has defended the comedy club hoax that suggested he'd been beaten up onstage, insisting he was merely poking fun at audience members who pretend to be members of the paparazzi. Shore staged the prank at a club in Odessa, Texas and asked members of his audience to shoot footage on cellphone cameras. One fan aired the footage of what appeared to be Shore getting thumped by a cowboy heckler on the internet and the grainy film created a cyberspace sensation. The comic let the footage run for days on various websites and then confessed it was all a set-up, and the internet fuss proved his point that audiences at all shows now turn up looking for something they can capture on their cell phone and post online. But many critics blasted Shore for his insensitivity - the prank was staged in the days following comedian Michael Richards' controversial race rant during a stand-up show in Los Angeles. Shore appeared on news show ACCESS HOLLYWOOD last night (18DEC06) in an effort to explain himself: "I said (to audience members), 'We're gonna stage a thing where I get punched...' They all laughed. They thought it was really funny. "It's almost like the audience is the paparazzi now, so I wanted to make fun of the whole situation." Shore now fears there will be repercussions: "I just hope that at one point I don't get punched for real and then, like, you're gonna think it's faked."