Comedian Kevin Nealon is one of those guys that everyone just feels like they know. Even in spots like grocery stores, Nealon said, people will approach him trying to figure out where they recognize him from.
“(People) come up to me racking their brains. ‘Do you come to this store or restaurant often?’ or ‘I’ve seen you before’ when I’m at an airport or somewhere,” Nealon said. “I can see it drives them crazy.”
This may be because of Nealon’s approachable demeanor – he just seems like an overall nice guy, even in a world of cynical comedy. Or maybe it is because he has had small but memorable roles in a variety of films and television shows – “Happy Gilmore,” “The Wedding Singer,” “Joe Dirt,” “Just Go with It,” the Emmy Award-nominated Showtime series “Weeds” and, of course, his nine-year stint as a cast member on “Saturday Night Live” (1986-1995).
His personable nature has recently led him to do a popular web series, “Hiking with Nealon,” in which he goes on hikes with big-name celebrities – Brad Paisley, Matthew Modine and Howie Mandel have been featured on his hiking chats. He currently has several projects on his plate, including a stand-up show at the Coach House on Saturday, Aug. 26, which he said will be his first time at the San Juan Capistrano venue, and he’s looking forward to presenting his new material.
“I’ve been working on a lot of new comedy lately and I’m coming with Kirk Fox, who’s a headliner himself and very funny, so it’ll be an overall fun show,” Nealon said. “I think people who know me know the tone that I bring with me, and I hope my new stuff will fit their expectations and not disappoint.”
That tone, he said, involves observational comedy based on Nealon’s life experiences, with a little spin of exaggeration to it, including his adventures in parenthood, marriage and Los Angeles living. Nealon became a father at the age of 53, and chronicles his comical views on pregnancy both on stage and in his 2008 book “Yes, You’re Pregnant, But What About Me?”
Missouri-born Nealon entered the standup world somewhat later than most. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Sacred Heart University in Connecticut in 1975, he did some traveling throughout Europe before eventually moving to Los Angeles to pursue a comedy career around the age of 25.
“I kind of putted around feeling out what I wanted to do, but I always knew stand-up was my passion,” said Nealon, “Comedy is what has always interested me the most out of any other pursuits, so I left to L.A. and started doing open mic nights.”
Nealon finally got his big break when he landed a stand-up routine spot on “The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson” in 1985, when he was 32.
“My favorite moment has always been doing ‘The Tonight with Johnny Carson’… seriously to this day, it’s always been such a thrill for me, above all the shows and movies I’ve done,” said Nealon, who added it was this television appearance that opened later doors to his comedy career.
As one of the longest running cast members on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” Nealon created some of the show’s most memorable characters, including “Subliminal Man,” “Hans and Franz” (with Dana Carvey) and his reoccurring role as an anchor on “Weekend Update.”
Today, he is working on the CBS sitcom “Man with a Plan,” as the brother role of starring actor Matt LeBlanc. He is also focused on his stand-up career, which he said is influenced by comedians Steve Martin, Albert Brooks and Andy Kaufman.
“My friends always tell me my comedy sneaks up on them, and I like that uniqueness or individuality-type comedy,” said Nealon, “I always try to maintain that thing where I keep my audiences guessing what I’m going to say next and also add audience interaction, so we all enjoy our time together.”
By Jackie Moe
Published in OC Register
Photo credit: Mike Carano