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Paul Mann: Master Comedian Kevin Nealon Talks About His Career, Tour

He hits the road with all-new stand-up material, with a stop Jan. 25 at Santa Barbara's Lobero Theatre

During the past 30 years, Kevin Nealon has been one of the hardest-working comedians in show business. He has appeared in countless television shows and Hollywood movies, has done voiceovers, written a book and hosted documentaries, and now has come full circle returning to his roots as a stand-up performer.

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Kevin Nealon

On the heels of his special last year on Showtime, he has hit the road again to bring new material to comedy fans across the country. We chatted about his long and illustrious career and his upcoming stand-up tour with a stop at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara on Jan. 25.

Paul Mann: Was your appearance on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, in 1984, your first big break in show business?

Kevin Nealon: Well, I had appeared on television before, like on David Letterman, but yes, that appearance helped launch my career.

PM: You performed on Saturday Night Live for almost a decade, from 1986-95. How did you get that job?

KN: I was living next door to Dana Carvey, in Hollywood, at the time who was a friend of mine. He called me up one day and said, “Guess where I am? I am at Lorne Michaels’ (producer of Saturday Night Live) house. Guess who’s here? Chevy Chase and Paul Simon working on a skit. They want to see your demo reel. Really, come on over.” From there I got an interview with Lorne, and first I was hired as a writer and then became a full-time cast member. It was a great time working with so many talented comedians like Dana developing characters like Hanz and Franz.

PM: Are there any plans to revive your old Saturday Night characters like Hanz and Franz?

KN: No, but there was a movie script written based on those characters, in the early ‘90s, written by Dana and myself, Conan O’Brien and Robert Smigel. It was going to be a musical starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, but he got cold feet and the project was shelved.

PM: In the ‘90s, you were in no less than six Hollywood films. Do you have any favorites from that period, or do you prefer some of the more recent movies that you have been in?

KN: Well, the first film I appeared in was in 1986, playing the drunk guy in Steve Martin’s Roxanne. I loved working on Happy Gilmore because I love to travel to new places and we got to go to British Columbia. Any Adam Sandler film is fun to work on because it is a reunion of the boys club of guys who have worked together in the past. I really enjoyed working on the 2009 film Aliens in the Attic because it was shot in New Zealand and I got to visit there for the first time.

PM: You have done a considerable amount of documentary work, including the 13-part Amazing America series for the Discovery Channel. Is that also because you like to travel?

KN: Yes, I just love to explore new cultures and meet new people.

PM: Most people today might recognize you from your ongoing role as Dr. Mark Crest on the television series Weeds. How does making a TV series compare to a Hollywood film?

KN: Yes, it’s funny that many people today think of me as this pot-smoking guy from the TV series. Television is different than filmmaking, but there are also a lot of similarities. You spend a lot of time waiting around in your trailer until they call you to do filming, but television is more like a regular job.

PM: You wrote a book in 2008. Could you talk about the inspiration for that?

KN: Well, I got an offer to write a book but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about. Then my wife got pregnant and I decided to write a book called Yes You’re Pregnant. But What About Me? When you discover that you are going to have a child, it stirs up memories of your own childhood. So the book is sort of an insight into my memoirs. I am going to try and bring a few copes to sign for people at the Lobero show.

PM: Is your new show going to be like your Showtime stand-up special last year? What can fans expect at the Lobero show?

KN: Well no, I am actually working on an all-new show for Showtime this year. I still need about 45 minutes of material, and I am out on the road to try out new things. Anybody who knows my sense of humor knows what to expect, but anyone who likes comedy should have a great time also. I wonder, who was the first comedian to play the Lobero Theatre?

Nealon will perform at the Lobero on Jan. 25. A few tickets are still available. The Lobero is California’s oldest continuously operating theater, originally founded in 1873. Does anyone know who might have been the first comedian to perform there?

— L. Paul Mann is a Noozhawk contributing writer. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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