October 3, 2014 by Speakers' Spotlight
For Kevin Nealon, Longevity Just Means More Laughs
From “Saturday Night Live” through two Showtime specials and the “Weeds” series, with movie roles along the way, Kevin Nealon has built a formidable body of laughs.
Younger fans may known him primarily as the obnoxious lecher on “Weeds,” which ran for eight seasons ending in 2012 — but he is also known as Mr. Subliminal or Hanz of Hanz and Franz in SNL, which he left in 1995.
His standup act is a reflection of his life, with spin and exaggeration along with years of experience, he said.
“It’s like being a blues musician; you live your life a little bit, and you have more to draw from,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for a long time, so I have a lot to draw from.”
As a standup comedian, Nealon is always in pursuit of new material, some of which he’ll perform Sunday at the Gillioz Theatre.
While new material comes from living, Nealon said he has no formula for developing it. Sometimes it’s just a matter of cultivating bits that have been lying around for a while.
“It’s kind of like my 7-year-old going into his play room, and his Legos are on the floor from other projects, putting them together and building something,” he said. “It doesn’t all come together at once. Sometimes he has to deconstruct it and rebuild it.”
Nealon’s standup act, which is thoroughly adult in nature but not profane, extends before and after his two television successes. The “Weeds” role led him into a decidedly coarser style of humor.
“The character I played was a real misfit, self-centered, and it was great to play that. It was kind of like a release to live vicariously through that character,” he said.
With that role, he realized his hopes for a TV opportunity that might rival the richness of SNL. At SNL, he did sketch comedy and wrote for the show. In contrast, “Weeds” was a continuing series, and he played the same character throughout.
“ ‘Weeds’ was a little bit easier because I didn’t have to do all the writing, and it wasn’t live. But it wasn’t as exciting as SNL — live audience, topical things,” he said. “If I had to be on any kind of scripted show, ‘Weeds’ would be the one. I got really lucky on that.”
Nealon has two new projects, an ongoing Web series for AOL with Ellen DeGeneres and a sitcom in development with his wife about a divorced couple that runs a wedding chapel in Las Vegas.
In the Web series, “Kevin Nealon’s Life Lessons,” a different guest comedian each week tries to teach young children how to be funny. Guests have included David Spade, Chelsea Handler, Adam Sandler and Joe Silverman.
“We thought it would be a good idea to teach kids comedy to get them out of difficult situations in life as they grow older,” Nealon said.