Kevin Nealon to perform at Funnybone
By J.T. Ryder
Beginning his professional career by appearing on the Johnny Carson Show in 1984 was probably the most ambitious way to start a profession. Shortly thereafter, Kevin Nealon was picked up by Saturday Night Live where he remained a fixture as the longest-running cast member in the show’s history. He has since been seen in various television and movie roles, such as the gold pro, Potter, in Happy Gilmore to Doug Wilson in the Showtime series Weeds, as well as doing voiceover work and penning the book, “Yes, You’re Pregnant, But What About Me?” Kevin Nealon’s sublime humor and keen ability to craft memorable characters has made him an incredibly well-rounded actor and comedian.
You’ve said that appearing on the Johnny Carson Show was the high point of your career because your first love is stand-up comedy. When you perform stand-up now, is it kind of like going back to your roots?
Well, I never really stopped doing stand-up comedy. I kept up with stand-up comedy through all my Saturday Night Live days and through all of the Weeds years, so it’s kind of my forte and my passion, and something that I continue to do all the time. [Kevin Nealon]
You’ve done just about everything from sketch comedy to acting and writing. Is there a way to apply all facets of that into your stand-up act?
Yeah, I think there is. I think that that covers the gamut right there. The great thing about doing comedy writing and acting and stand-up is that you never get tired of doing just one of them. It’s just a nice cross section and variety for me, and it does all funnel down into stand-up comedy because you can act out certain scenarios in your set and you could turn things into a sketch if you wanted to, so it’s all been really helpful. [KN]
You are known for so many memorable characters, both in movies as well as on Saturday Night Live; which ones are your favorite to portray?
I think one of my favorite characters to do, lately, has been Doug Wilson from Weeds because he’s such a … [long pause] … a narcissistic, carefree character. He just does what he wants to do and doesn’t really think about the repercussions. It’s nice kind of living through him vicariously. [KN]
I could definitely see that. Now, I haven’t seen Bucky Larson yet. How large is the role you play as Gary in that?
Oh, not large. It’s more of a cameo role. I play Bucky Larson’s abusive roommate. I’m always yelling at him for stuff and he just puts up with it. [KN]
What is the predominant portion of your stand-up act? Is it mostly drawn from real life?
Yeah! I think comics are kind of like blues musicians: they have to live life a little bit to tell their story and their viewpoint. So, my stand-up is based on truth that’s embellished and exaggerated a little bit, but is basically my viewpoint. A lot of it comes from the enormity of life, fear and death a little bit … just things that are going through my head right now. [KN]
Do you think that the older you get, these thoughts are becoming more of a dominant portion of your processes?
I think so, sometimes. I’m not trying to make it all about getting older. I know there are a lot of comics that do that. I’m trying to be more unique and original and to stand out, so my whole act is not about getting old. I might do one or two jokes about getting older and then move on. You go through different experiences in life as you get older. [KN]
How much of being a father comprises your stand-up routine?
Well, I don’t use that much of it because I know some people don’t have kids, and so it’s not really anything that they can relate to. I do a little bit here and there. Like, right now, we are trying to find a school for our son and my wife is leaning more towards a private school. I’m more about a public school with its diversity, and different income levels and ethnicities and all that, so he can see what the real world is like. But, if we end up sending him to a private school, like some rich, white kid school, I’m going to make him join a gang on the side … preferably an Asian (gang) at least. [KN]
Kevin Nealon will be performing at the Dayton Funnybone, located at 88 Plum St. at The Greene, on September 23 and 24 at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. each night. Tickets are $25 per person. For more information call (937) 429-5233 or go online to www.daytonfunnybone.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer J.T. Ryder at JTRyder@DaytonCityPaper.com.