Nealon gets back to standup roots

Kev­in Ne­alon as Doug Wilson (Sea­son 4) - Photo: Sheryl Nields/Show­time - Photo ID: weed­s_gal4_­beach-kn_077

Kev­in Ne­alon, an act­or and comedi­an prob­ably best known as a cast mem­ber on Sat­urday Night Live, and more re­cently the hit series Weeds, will be at the He­li­um Com­edy Club on Sansom Street Aug. 4 to 6.

Ac­cord­ing to Ne­alon, no mat­ter how well-known he may be­come for his TV ap­pear­ances, he will al­ways need to come back to the stage to per­form his stan­dup in front of a live audi­ence.

“Today, do­ing Weeds makes me ex­tremely happy,“ Ne­alon said. “I’m now in my sev­enth year and it’s all been a great ex­per­i­ence for me. I ori­gin­ally au­di­tioned for the show just as a guest star, but I got picked up and even­tu­ally be­came a reg­u­lar. But I nev­er thought the show would con­tin­ue this long. I’m amazed and grate­ful at the same time. It’s a really fun show to do.”

But Ne­alon nev­er will for­get his be­gin­nings as a stan­dup, still one of his fa­vor­ite things to do.

“Stan­dup is an art form that really needs to be oiled. It’s also a great way to break out of a stand­ard routine and open your mind up to new areas,” he said.

But it’s all been good and opened up his mind. Look­ing back, he said he’s en­joyed every part of his ca­reer — from his be­gin­nings at all those open-mike nights that led to his suc­cesses, and even the part-time jobs that helped sup­port him.

“When I found that New York City was too in­tim­id­at­ing for me, I moved out to Los Angeles and got a lot of part-time jobs dur­ing the day so I could do stan­dup at night. I gave my­self two years to see some pro­gress and, if not, I’d find something else to do.”

Even­tu­ally, Ne­alon landed a job as a bar­tender at the fam­ous com­edy club The Im­prov, which he said was a great job be­cause if a com­ic didn’t show up, he got to go on. And soon, everything seemed to work out — es­pe­cially when he landed on the To­night Show Star­ring Johnny Car­son.

“That was in Au­gust of 1984, and I think it was the true turn­ing point in my ca­reer,” Ne­alon said.

“It was the hot­test show ever, and for a com­ic, the show val­id­ated you. It was like be­ing a law­yer and passing the bar ex­am.”

The fol­low­ing year, Sat­urday Night Live re­cruited Ne­alon’s friend, Dana Carvey, and Carvey in turn re­com­men­ded Ne­alon. Both joined the cast that year, and Ne­alon be­came a full-time per­former, re­main­ing for nine sea­sons.

Some of his mem­or­able SNL char­ac­ters in­cluded Mr. Sub­lim­in­al (or Sub­lim­in­al Mes­sage Man), Franz (of Hans and Franz), Mr. No Depth Per­cep­tion, the an­chor of Week­end Up­date and oth­ers.

Ne­alon, 58, has also ap­peared in such films as Happy Gilmore, An­ger Man­age­ment and Little Nicky. But it seems stan­dup con­tin­ues to ap­peal to this per­former.

With a young son of his own, he tries to sched­ule his time wisely. “I try to bal­ance everything,” he said. “That’s one of the biggest obstacles in my life since there nev­er seems to be enough time to do it all. But I do make my son my pri­or­ity, tak­ing him with me when I can, or lim­it­ing the amount of time I spend on the road.”

Today, seem­ing to en­joy it all, Ne­alon said per­haps the best part of his ca­reer was at the very be­gin­ning.

“I’ve en­joyed it all, es­pe­cially the be­gin­ning do­ing all those open-mike nights, stand­ing in lines and fol­low­ing my dream,” he said. “Part of that is in­com­par­able to any­thing else. You’re fresh, you’re young, and it’s ex­cit­ing, and you get to have that ad­ren­aline rush be­cause you don’t know what lies ahead of you. It’s something I’ll nev­er for­get.” ••

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